Business

Chilled Freezer Meals 'borrowed' coffee shop's kitchen

'People didn't know how to chop a carrot'

Lindsy Trotter of Center Point puts brioche bread cubes into the oven to toast while preparing apple cinnamon French toast bake at the Chilled kitchen in Center Point on Wednesday, April 3, 2019. Trotter offers freezer meals, with multiple pickup locations around the region, as well as menu planning. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Lindsy Trotter of Center Point puts brioche bread cubes into the oven to toast while preparing apple cinnamon French toast bake at the Chilled kitchen in Center Point on Wednesday, April 3, 2019. Trotter offers freezer meals, with multiple pickup locations around the region, as well as menu planning. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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CENTER POINT — Lindsy Trotter started making freezer meals out of necessity.

“As a baby, my youngest daughter had food sensitivities to wheat, dairy, corn and nuts,” she said. “It was difficult to do quick eat-out situations.”

To have fast and easy meal options for busy weeknights, she began preparing and stocking her freezer with meals that she simply needed to thaw and cook.

Before too long, her friends wanted their own freezer meals and talked her into hosting a freezer meal party. The self-described “spreadsheet geek” set about creating ingredient and shopping lists to keep everyone organized.

But the party didn’t go as Trotter expected.

“People didn’t know how to chop a carrot,” she said. “I didn’t want to teach them how to chop carrots.”

Trotter ultimately decided it would be easier to make all the meals herself and charge her friends for groceries, plus 50 cents, per meal.

Word spread, and Trotter started getting requests for meals from friends of friends.

She recognized she had a viable business idea on her hands, except for one big problem.

“I needed to be official and licensed to avoid the health department knocking on my door,” she said.

Without the funds for a commercial kitchen, Trotter put her idea on the back burner for a couple years. She eventually asked the owner of a coffee shop in Center Point, where she lives, if she could use the shop’s commercial kitchen after hours.

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“He was very open to me using the kitchen and even helped me with licensing and getting everything set up,” she said.

Trotter launched Chilled in April 2018.

Trotter developed a menu of around 50 different freezer meals, many of which are gluten-free or paleo- or keto-friendly. Each month, she offers 10 to 12 of these meals for order on her website.

Customers pick up their orders at designated “meal host” locations in Cedar Rapids, North Liberty, Cedar Falls-Waterloo and other communities where customers provide use their driveways as pickup sites in exchange for free meals.

Trotter also holds pop-up shops throughout the year at various locations, where customers can select meals off a menu board to take home.

In March, Trotter moved into her own commercial kitchen in Center Point. Starting in April, customers will be able to order off the menu all month long, with an additional option for meal pickup at the kitchen in Center Point.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” she said. “I’ll be able to offer meals on a more consistent basis.”

Trotter also is developing partnerships with local producers to supply locally grown and organic produce, eggs and meat.

“I’m looking to share the love with local, small businesses,” she said.

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At a Glance

• Owner: Lindsy Trotter

• Business: Chilled Freezer Meals and Menu Planning

• Email: chilledcenterpoint@gmail.com

• Website: chilledcenterpoint.com

• Facebook: facebook.com/chilledcenterpoint

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