It was early March 2020 when Keely Ballard of Payson went shopping. On her list was flour from Costco. Having a background in the culinary arts, Ballard knew the importance of having not only good ingredients to work with, but ample supply.
Then it happened.
Pandemic frenzy emptied store shelves of essential goods — like flour and bread.
One neighbor sent out a Facebook call for help, asking if anyone had some flour she could have in exchange for some banana bread. Apparently, she had some bananas she planned on making banana bread with, but no flour to make it with. Ballard answered the call, offering several cups of flour in exchange for some banana bread.
Then, more calls came. Friends and family who were in need of bread started asking Ballard if she could make them some.
“When the pandemic started, I had friends call me saying, ‘I can’t find bread at the store! Do you have stuff to make bread? We’ll pay you!’” Ballard recalled. “I started making bread and delivering it locally, and then I thought that maybe I could turn this into something.”
Ballard went to culinary school at Utah Valley University. And while she works in the food industry as a regional manager for Sodalicious, she was excited to be using her skills to create food for others.
“I started asking friends I was making bread for, if they were interested in me making meals for them,” Ballard said. “I started offering a weekly meal and posting it on social media for people to order, and it just went from there. It’s been a lot of fun!”
Ballard posts the meal (that also includes dessert) on her Instagram page @kookingwithkeely each Friday or Saturday, along with the cost of each meal. Customers then place orders for how many meals they would like, and she delivers the following Wednesday or Thursday for Payson customers, and meets at a central location for other Utah County customers.
“It’s been so cool to be doing what I actually went to school to do,” Ballard said. “I have a lot of empty nesters who order because they have a hard time cooking for one or two people, and want a home cooked meal. I have families of all sizes ordering because they want a home cooked meal that they don’t have to cook themselves. It really is for anybody.”