If farmers markets seem fabulous, but take too much time, and CSAs sound wonderful, but leave you dumbfounded when a box of chicory arrives, then consider ThePantrySB, a new home-delivery service that encourages you to eat healthy as you learn to cook. “All of our ingredients are measured for your meal,” explained Alexis Donaire, who started the company with her husband, Ron Donaire, in January. “It’s an easy solution to expand your horizons.”
Every Tuesday, ThePantrySB delivers the selected ingredients and recipes to your door, along with access to helpful online videos. “It’s a very technology-driven approach,” said Ron. “It teaches you techniques as well as recipes.” There are currently about 100 videos to watch, with one to three added weekly. Alexis joked that Ron is “the tester,” having so far mastered one salad, to which Ron replied, “That proves the product works!”
Better proof is in ThePantrySB’s broad popularity, as the couple’s customer base turned out to be more than a small niche. “We thought our target would be late 20- and early 30-year-olds, two people with dual incomes,” Ron explained. “But we found this has a very mass appeal, ranging from college kids barely making ends meet to triple-gated residents in Montecito.”
Alexis always dreamed of a career in food but didn’t want to open a restaurant or cater because “both seemed to provide a crutch for those who didn’t want to cook for themselves.” Instead, ThePantrySB helps people do just that, starting with the tips and tricks listed in Monday night’s preview email, which whets people’s appetite and offers ingredient substitutions. Explained Ron, “Even people who are confident to follow a recipe are not always comfortable switching ingredients or improvising.”
The couple happily keeps their ingredients sustainable, organic, and local, based on the USDA’s 400-mile-radius definition, so they can serve customers from Orange County to Paso Robles out of the commercial operation at Goodland Kitchen in Goleta. “We’re working with all the regional farms,” said Alexis. Those fine ingredients make up meals like lamb chops with kale tabbouleh, roasted tomatoes, and zucchini or lemon-ginger pork with raw celery salad. “Vegetables are the prime component of each dish,” explained Alexis. “We definitely take a whole food approach.”
Cooking time tends to be under a half hour, unless a dish requires more oven time, and you needn’t own the latest, greatest utensil, either. “We understand not everyone has a mandoline, not everyone has a KitchenAid mixer,” said Ron. “So we try to keep the need for fancy tools to a minimum.” Plus each box’s recipes include helpful “what we provide” and “what you provide” lists to help people prepare.
Currently boxing up about 250 meals a month, ThePantrySB is preparing to go bigger. “We’ve actually hired drivers,” said Ron. “When we first started, we did everything ourselves: deliveries, photography, menu planning, purchasing, food prep, customer service.” Now the Donaires are ready to make that next step.
See thepantrysb.com or call (805) 366-3222.