Skip the Pizza and Serve HomeCooked for Dinner Tonight
Busy parents, your prayers have been answered: Claire Guarino has the answer to the "what's for dinner?" question.
Claire Guarino knows how busy we all are, and how tough making dinner can feel after a long day of working, caring for kids, and ferrying everyone around. As a mother of two, and a veteran of the pressure-cooker corporate world, she totally gets why your children are eating boxed mac and cheese again.
Making dinner less of a chore — and more of a time for families to connect — is Guarino’s favorite thing about running HomeCooked, which offers ready-to-cook meals for anyone who’s too busy to do it themselves. If it wasn’t her business, she’d be a client.
“I love making it easier for families to get together at meal-time even when life is busy,” she said. “I know first-hand how challenging dinner time can be, and I know how much better I feel as a Mom when I’m serving a meal I feel good about versus calling the pizza shop.
“The benefits of families sitting together for dinner go far beyond nutrition.”
The idea HomeCooked dates back to when Guarino and her now-husband were living in Los Angeles, and she was working in corporate marketing. While they loved to cook, they found themselves too worn out after work to do anything but order takeout.
“We were desperate for better food options,” she said. “We discovered a business outside Los Angeles similar to what HomeCooked is now and fell in love with it.
“We went from eating takeout much too often to eating healthy food that was delicious and easy to prep on weeknights!”
When they moved back to the East Coast — Guarino grew up in Lancaster and went to college in New York — the business idea blossomed. Now, HomeCooked offers pick up and delivery, holiday meals, and a variety of cooking parties and camps for kids.
“We’ve evolved a lot over the years, but the main concept — providing meals that you could feel good about serving your family without all the shopping, slicing, and dicing — has remained the same,” Guarino said.
HomeCooked is different from services that deliver the ingredients and then you put the meal together. Guarino’s meals are all ready to cook, from pretzel-crusted chicken tenders (a kid favorite) to cioppino-style seafood stew. The menus change monthly and what’s available to grab and go in the store, just steps from the Paoli train station, varies, too.
At holiday time or when you head to the Shore, take the stress out of cooking and order ahead for entrees, sides, or desserts. That way you can spend your time enjoying yourself instead of cooking away in the kitchen. Want to help a sick friend or a family with a new baby? Order for them and HomeCooked will deliver.
“Our meals allow folks to focus on more important tasks at hand and I feel great about that,” Guarino said. “We’ve had many clients come in and say how our meals were such a help when they were sick, or had a new baby, and now they’re here to get meals for someone else going through a challenging time.”
Guarino’s happiest surprise, after more than a decade in business, may be her kids’ camps and parties. At HomeCooked’s summer and day-off camps, kids bring home an entree and dessert for the family each day. Guarino’s special holiday baking session sends kids and a parent home with five different cookie doughs, ready to bake at home.
“I love seeing the sense of pride and confidence in our campers’ faces when they leave with a dinner for their family that they prepared,” Guarino said.
Photographs by Ivory Tree Portraits.