This past weekend I adopted a very sweet, but endlessly active five-month-old white lab mix. Day 1 was spent chasing little Casper around the house, taking him repeatedly into the garden to housetrain him, grabbing random items out of his mouth, playing with him, and even working with him to get him to adjust to walking on a leash.
All this is to say that the late morning and afternoon slipped by without my eating anything before I finally grabbed a container of yogurt around 3 p.m. to make do.
But dinner was different. Cooking was out, but I had in my fridge a 1.5 pint jar of Car’s Jars Soba Noodles.
The salad was filled with pieces of ginger soy marinated chicken, red bell peppers, edamame, shredded carrots, green onions, shredded Napa cabbage, soba noodles, of course, and a hoisin vinaigrette with a slice of lime included to add a touch of brightness. The salad ingredients were layered in the jar, with the dressing on the bottom and the lime in a little glassine paper candy cup just under the lid. All I had to do was empty the contents into a bowl, toss them, and eat.
On that day, at that moment, when I was so exhausted, so “hangry,” it was heaven. And the leftovers were just as delicious the next afternoon.
Carly McHenry is the woman behind Car’s Jars. A Point Loma native, McHenry has defined her life by advocating healthy eating and lifestyle. She studied exercise physiology at Chico State, and returned home to work at a school for autistic students. She’d prep her lunches in advance and bring them to work in Tupperware containers. But, she said, they wouldn’t last the week. She then started packing them in mason jars and found they stayed fresh.
“I grew up cooking so I started playing around with recipes,” she said. “Then people I worked with started requesting them so I made more and sold them for $5 a jar. That’s how Car’s Jars was born. My mom would see me in the kitchen and joke, ‘Car’s making her jars.’”
That was four years ago in October. At that point, McHenry started building her business, first for friends and family, then—after getting all the permits and licenses—for the public. She got space in the Sorrento Valley kitchen of Behind the Scenes catering company on Saturday and Sunday nights. She’d prep on Saturdays and pack on Sundays. Then she’d deliver to customers on Mondays—all while still holding a day job, at that point as a physical therapy assistant.
Two months ago, with two investors assisting her financially and family and friends helping with décor and cooking, McHenry opened her storefront.
“It’s always been my dream—a grab ‘n go quick, healthy location,” McHenry gushed. Today, she is preparing 700 jars a week for both pick up and delivery (within a 17-mile radius) with the help of six employees, including her older sister Megan, who runs the kitchen. In the next year, once she gets the current place established, she plans to expand both her line of food to include organic meals and catering platters, as well as another storefront.
The salads and meal jars are seasonal, with local ingredients purchased from Specialty Produce. She has a repertoire of 50 on rotation, from a vegetarian niçoise jar with fresh dill lemon vinaigrette and a cheese tortellini and roasted veggies meal jar to a Southwest Cobb salad and Chicken Fajita meal jar. She also makes oatmeal, soups, fruit salads, and seasonal desserts, like a tripleberry crisp. The jars are recyclable. Regular delivery customers receive a container to put them in and she has a “Return a jar, get a star” program that rewards recycling with free meals. McHenry says she gets about 85 percent of the jars back.
Her Lean Ground Turkey & Broccoli meal jar was a terrific, filling dish featuring flavorful meatballs bathed in basil marinara, tossed in whole wheat penne, already cooked. Reheat and then mix in the layer of fresh arugula, shredded parmesan cheese, and even sliced pepperoncini. A meal in three minutes!
Here’s the recipe for the meatballs:
From Car’s Jars
Yield: 35, 1-ounce meatballs
Car’s Jars is located at 4161 Volaire St., Unit A in Point Loma. You can also order order online if you’re within a 17-mile radius, placing your order by Friday for Monday delivery. Minimum order is $35.