When Gretchen Evans found herself taking care of three young boys under the age of two (twins and a baby, born 15 months apart), she had to find a way to streamline her family’s food preparation to make sure everyone was properly fed. A kitchen revolution, as she put it, was in order. Around that time, Evans developed a deep appreciation for those expensive deli salads full of whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries, and fresh vegetables. When she realized that it was the whole grains that made the salads unique, she bought a few bulk bags of dry, unrefined grains and quickly learned that cooking them was time-consuming and difficult to get just right.
One day, Evans had the idea to cook the grains, freeze them on cookie sheets, and place them in bags so she could simply pull them out of the freezer whenever she needed them in a recipe. Her frozen grains became a “mother ingredient” that helped her put together quick, healthy meals. Friends and family eventually took notice of her creation and began to ask for some samples. Before Evans knew it, she was getting requests from stay-at-home parents, urban singles, and everyone in between.
Seeing a business opportunity, Evans and her husband, Bill, decided to launch Gretchen’s Grains. She waitressed and tended bar at night and alternated with her husband to take care of the kids, all while working on the business. Evans admits that there were times when she felt like Gretchen’s Grains was “never, never going to work” and that she was going to “waitress forever.”
Today, Gretchen’s Grains is sold in 230 stores, including PCC Natural Markets and Fred Meyer. Soon, Evans will be pitching to Kroger, and if all goes well, Gretchen’s Grains could roll out in more than 2,300 stores.