By Tanna M. Friday
TRUSSVILLE – With today’s hectic schedules, many people find it difficult to fit in healthy home cooked meals, much less have the time to cook them.
For some living in Trussville, the answer could be a passionate cook named Misty Westover.
Westover, a former fifth grade school teacher and Mississippi native, started cooking homemade oven-ready meals through a love of community and cooking.
“Cooking has always been my therapy,” said Westover.
Westover chuckles when sharing the story of how she began her business venture into preparing meals for people on the go.
“During my maternity leave with my third daughter, I was looking for something to do other than mold play-dough with my other children,” chuckled Westover. “One day I had a friend over and shared my desire to busy myself with a hobby. She suggested I cook again since I enjoyed cooking for other teachers at school.”
This idea sparked Westover’s interest, so she reached out to her Stockton neighbors on social media to see if there was a need or interest.
“I posted to my neighborhood Facebook group in Stockton that included moms who lived on my street,” she said. “I put it out there that I was going to make ten Chicken Poppy dishes and if anyone was interested to comment. I immediately received five orders.”
Westover shares that her small neighborhood cooking project not only gave her more time to be with her children but that it also rekindled her love of cooking.
“I didn’t do it for the reason of making any money,” she said. “I already loved to cook and I loved the relationships it created.”
After reading every cookbook she could get her hands on and writing down some of her own recipes, Meals by Misty was born.
Westover started catchy themes such as Tasty Tuesday, which enabled her to meal plan on Saturday, attend church on Sunday, and cook Monday when her husband returned to work. She prepared and packaged her cooler-ready meals along with heating instructions for porch pickup on Tuesdays.
“Moms could swing by at their own convenience and pick up their meals,” she said. “The word got out fast and my cooking expanded reaching teachers, friends and more neighbors.”
Westover decided to move forward in her new business venture, stop teaching and enjoy the new flexible schedule allowing her more time at home with her family.
News of her oven-ready prepared meals soon started to spread outside the best kept secret in the Stockton community into surrounding communities. Westover knew the next step was a storefront business to accommodate an increased customer base, but wanted to make sure it was the right time.
“I had a friend suggest that I open a storefront,” she said. “While I was scared to venture outside of my kitchen, I knew I was busting at the seams. Right around the holidays, I knew that this was developing into something.”
“I wanted to make sure that if I was to open a storefront it would fall in my lap,” she said sharing how she found the perfect space. “I happened to come into Nelm’s pharmacy when they announced they were going to move across the street. It was perfect timing and definitely a God thing how the building fell into place.”
She shares that one of her first customers was in the pharmacy when she heard the news that the building was available to rent.
“My very first customer, Donna, said that she had one of my prepared meals on her dining table the night before and that her family prayed for me,” she said. “She said that they prayed that this would happen. After that conversation I immediately called and signed the lease within a day or so.”
Westover shares that after signing the lease, she also found the perfect builder and with a lot of courage and faith, she opened the storefront to offer her southern casseroles, sides, salads, her famous chicken salad and pimento and cheese, providing fresh meals on the go.
Meals by Misty, now located off Watterson Parkway/S. Chalkville Rd. in former Nelms Pharmacy building, opened its doors to Trussville in May (on a Tuesday, of course) providing oven-ready homemade meals to family tables across the community.
Now Westover continues to cook and serve her most popular recipes including her very first signature meal, Chicken Poppy, a favorite to her husband and friends.
“The opening of the storefront has been a fun challenge,” said Westover who now employs nine ladies to assist her with meal planning and daily specials from a wide variety of menu items. “I am much busier than before. We prepare around ten entrees with daily specials on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday and have seven daily salads, snacks and dips.”
In addition to the ten entrees offered during business hours, Meals by Misty offers five sides, two soups, three house salads and five desserts
To see more of what Meals by Misty has to offer, including daily specials and tasty treats, visit mealsbymisty.com.