The Oxford Eagle Article
Sunday, July 26, 2015
No Time 2 Cook takes off for busy mom
Oxford woman’s home-cooked meals now in Kroger
BY REID POSEY
After 10 years of teaching in the Louisiana college system, Karen Kurr walked away from education and shifted her focus on the homestead as she started to have children.
As a home economics student at Mississippi University for Women with a graduate degree from Southern Miss in child development and family living, Kurr found herself struggling to both keep up with her children and find time to put fresh meals on the table every night.
Kurr decided that her best course of action was to cook recipes over the weekend that she could freeze and then pull out over the course of the next week for a low-hassle solution to dinner. As the years passed and her children grew older, Kurr decided that it was time to find a career for herself once more, and she drew on her experiences as a mother to formulate a business plan based out of her own kitchen — a plan that would become Oxford’s No Time 2 Cook.
Kurr entered the industry by way of local farmer’s markets, bringing many of the same recipes she had been cooking for her own family — dishes like chicken and dumplings, tamale pie, crab and mushroom penne, chicken pie, chicken tetrazzini and seafood gumbo — and selling them to local customers. No Time 2 Cook was an immediate hit with families, which jumped at the opportunity to purchase high-quality meals that could save themselves the stress of putting a fresh meal on the table at the end of their busy days.
“I knew what it was like to be a busy mom and not have time to cook, and I thought maybe I might have something to offer other busy people that didn’t want to cook,” Kurr said.
From farmer’s markets, Kurr began expanding her reach into antique stores and small mom and pop businesses across north Mississippi to accommodate more customers. After about five years, No Time 2 Cook’s expanding customer base outgrew the capacities of Kurr’s home kitchen, and she moved into a small USDA plant, where she continues to oversee operations.
Today, No Time 2 Cook is still churning out dishes culled from Kurr’s personal stock of recipes, accrued from friends and family over the years and tweaked to perfection by Kurr, taking the face-to-face interaction she received through her early days at farmer’s markets and using this personalized feedback to cater to her clientele to the best of her abilities.
Major milestoneIn 2014, No Time 2 Cook hit a major milestone by being added to Kroger shelves all over the store’s Mississippi Delta division. After performing well in that market, Kroger executives decided to expand Kurr’s business to reach markets in the Houston and Dallas areas, effectively placing her product in over 300 Kroger stores. Breaking into the grocery giant’s rotation was no easy task, however, according to Kurr.
“A lot of us being in Kroger was being at the right place at the right time, meeting the right people at the right time, having the right contacts, but mostly having a great product that Kroger is looking for.”
As her company has continued to experience tremendous growth over the years, the main challenge has become to fill increasingly large orders, while maintaining the high quality of their product. Kurr credits their success in part to low staff turnover, saying that many of the same employees from her days in her home kitchen are still with her today. However, the main thing she takes pride in is the company’s refusal to sacrifice the quality of ingredients.
“We have been very true to the recipe, very true to our premium, high-quality ingredients. We haven’t given in on the quality of the ingredients that we use. I refuse to cut our quality because that’s not who we are.”
The fact remained, however, that the company needed to find a way to cut costs and offer its products for a more affordable price in Kroger stores. Kurr found her solution through the integration of more automated technology to increase output and decrease some excess labor costs. Kurr said that, with the combination of her employees’ efforts and the efficiency of the technology in her plant, No Time 2 Cook is able to produce about 950 units per day, with each unit constituting between three and four entrée portions.
Looking toward the future, Kurr says that growth will hopefully be centered on expanding within the Kroger market, adding that there are plenty of opportunities for her business within the Kroger brand alone. In the meantime, she does not plan on forgetting her roots anytime soon, still delivering to small mom and pop stores all across Mississippi, allowing them to serve customers that may not have access to Kroger in their communities.
In addition to the Kroger on University Avenue, No Time 2 Cook’s products are also sold at the Depot Antique Mall on North Lamar Boulevard. Originally selling her product at the Mustard Seed before moving back across town, Kurr mentioned that the Depot’s shopping center is, interestingly enough, the same lot on which she began selling her recipes at local farmer’s markets all those years ago, and she always will be thankful for the support she receives from the Oxford community.
“Oxford has been really good for our business. In building a business, it’s been important to us to have our local backing, our local branding, and our local support, and I’m really appreciative for my Oxford customers because they’ve been really loyal to us.”
For more information on No Time 2 Cook and to search for the nearest location where its products are sold, visit www.notime2cook.com.
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