Every Saturday night, Jerry’s Foods sends email subscribers a Meals in Minutes recipe and appetizing food photo, along with a link to its weekly sales ad that starts the next day. On Monday, the recipe is the first post on its Facebook page. Each Meals in Minutes recipe includes three main ingredients and three sides or toppings that are on sale that week. “The real purpose is just having an easy, hearty meal for the week to feed the family,” says Elizabeth Kriel, Jerry’s Foods digital marketing and promotional manager.
The magic behind the scenes happens when Kriel goes home on the weekends with a few bags of groceries and the sale ad. She personally prepares and photographs the company’s weekly Meals in Minutes. For two years, this busy mom-on-the-go of a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old has been creating recipes for Jerry’s customers right in her own kitchen.
“I have the sale ad about two weeks in advance, so I work ahead. I develop the recipe, prepare the recipe, photograph the recipe and then I send it to our designer for our email template,” says Kriel. For inspiration, she browses other recipes on social media platforms like Pinterest, in cookbooks and from meals she’s made before. Then Kriel creates new recipes in conjunction with the ad and seasonal ingredients.
“I’m first and foremost looking at what items are in the ad. I start with the main ingredient like meat or produce, then for big ‘nugget’ items I think that may be popular or seasonal. If I can gear the recipe around whatever holiday or time of year is coming up, then I do,” she says.
Not a trained chef, this mom and marketing professional gears Meals in Minutes recipes toward people like herself. “We really are trying to gear these meals toward busy people and there’s no one busier than myself. I think to myself, ‘If I can figure it out and I can prepare it and I can feed it to my family and they enjoy it, then anybody can do it,’” she shares.
There’s no fancy photography studio here. Kriel takes advantage of a food photographer’s best friend—natural daylight—to snap 20 or so pictures of each recipe as they come out of the oven, or off the stove or grill. Some of the meals are conducive to cutting and then plating. Some look best right in the casserole dish. She tries to mix it up each week. She says, “I’ll shoot some in the dish the meal was prepared in and then transfer a portion of it to a plate and take a beauty shot. My favorite time to do this is when I’m cooking in a cast iron skillet. There’s just something about that pan that makes everything look good.”
Working with everyday pots, pans and plates from her own kitchen cupboards, Jerry’s marketing manager isn’t subbing in butter for ice cream or brushing on oil to make things shiny. This food is edible, sit-at-the-table ready because her hungry kids are in kitchen with forks in hand saying, “Are you cooking your Jerry’s recipe?” Once meal preparation is complete and the photographs are taken, Kriel’s family sits down to taste test each recipe.
Although the ingredients that inspire the recipes are only on sale for one week, the recipes are archived on the store’s website. With more than 200 recipes and growing, Jerry’s Foods is revamping its website and will soon be launching a more robust, mobile friendly online recipe section.
Elizabeth Kriel shares some of her favorite warming recipes for fall. And the best part? All of them can be made in your slow cooker.
Easy Slow Cooker Ravioli
1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 cups fresh spinach
16 oz. bowtie pasta, cooked and drained
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
Brown beef in frying pan with onion and garlic. Add beef, sauce, tomatoes and seasonings to slow cooker.
Cook for 4-5 hours on low.
Add remaining ingredients during last 30 minutes of cooking; mix well.
Add a sprinkle of shredded mozzarella to top before serving.
Slow Cooker Beef and Tomato Stew
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 onion diced
28 oz diced tomatoes,
28 oz stewed tomatoes
1 tsp miced garlic
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
6 cups beef broth
3 cups cooked
In a skillet, brown ground beef and onion.
Drain grease and transfer to slow cooker.
Add remaining ingredients, except pasta, to slow cooker.
Stir to combine and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
Add cooked macaroni and allow to heat for 15 minutes.
Simple Apple Pork Chops
2 large/jumbo apples
1 medium onion
4 thick cut pork chops
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup water
Thinly slice apples and onions; toss to combine. Spread evenly in the base of the slow cooker bowl.
Place the chops on top of the apple and onion mixture, spacing them out evenly. In a bowl, whisk together the barbecue sauce and water.
Pour sauce over the pork chops, making sure each one is coated.
Cover and cook on high for 2 hours or until the juices run clear.
Visit Jerry’s Foods’ website for Meals in Minutes recipes and be sure to like them on Facebook.