McHenry has become a superstar with the Mason jar on the local culinary scene.
She’s marketing her handmade, healthy, convenient and affordable layered salads through her 10-month-old business named Car’s Jars. Not only that, she delivers.
A graduate of Chico State with a degree in exercise physiology, McHenry was working locally with autistic children. The homemade salads she’d bring for herself and others at work were just so good that friends convinced her to take it to the next level.
And she did, with a lot of patience, effort and more than just a little fine-tuning.
First, McHenry needed to find the proper container.
“I started out with Tupperware, but it wasn’t lasting long, so I moved to Mason jars,” she said.
Then she had to find a kitchen to operate out of, since her home didn’t qualify under the guidelines for operating a cottage industry.
“I have a twin sister whose roommate worked with a catering company,” McHenry said. “I went out there and walked into his huge kitchen and just couldn’t believe my eyes. They offered to rent it out to me, and it wasn’t a bad price.”
Product development came next and had to be grappled with — and mastered.
“That was the longest phase, test marketing, which took about five or six months,” McHenry said. “I was experimenting with recipes, the best way to layer and season the food, et cetera.”
Now she was hooked. McHenry just had to make it happen as a business. But there was a question about investors for her startup.
“My parents believed in my idea and supported me,” she said. “If it was any other kind of business, they would have said, ‘I don’t know about this.’ I was willing to take the risk. And I was in a position to do so.”
Though her career may have deviated from the path she’d originally intended, McHenry said she is happy to be promoting healthy lifestyles by providing a nutritious diet.
“We’re encouraging people to plan ahead for healthy meals so they’re not in a situation where they’re eating fast food or grab-and-goes,” she said. “My salads stay fresh in the fridge for five days. They’re convenient, affordable, healthy and delicious.”
Car’s Jars uses seasonal, fresh local-sourced produce and homemade vinaigrettes. The homemade salads can be eaten as is or prepared completely differently by warming them up as stir fry or wrapping them up.
McHenry makes all of her deliveries for Car’s Jars on Mondays to a 20-mile area that includes Mira Mesa and San Diego’s beach communities.
“I bought an SUV and I do it by myself,” said McHenry, adding customers don’t have to even be there when their food arrives.
“I tell them to leave out a cooler, and I bring along ice,” she said. She added she delivers to commercial and office buildings and residences.
Her salads cost $8 a pint or $10 for a pint and a half. And she rewards customers willing to return her Mason jars to her.
For more information, visit www.carsjars.com.