Cooking for a Crowd

Entrepreneur makes family dinners easier.

The Average American spends 37 minutes a day on meal prep, food service and clean up, according to a 2014 survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When you consider that many working adults might not get home from work until 6 p.m. or later, and kids have countless activities and early bedtimes, this doesn’t leave much time to do anything beyond what is absolutely necessary each night.

There is a solution to this age-old problem. Meet Kate Nestingen of Cooking by Kate, a 2012 graduate of the College of St. Benedict and resident cook for hire. She brings healthy and home-cooked meals right to your kitchen. Nestingen makes meal prep easy and convenient, doing all of the grocery shopping and preparation to make dinner time a cinch. Simply throw dinner in the oven, add a few finishing touches and a delicious meal is on the table in no time.

How does it work?

1. Nestington connects with a new client via phone to get to know the family, where they live, what they do and what their needs are.

2. She meets with the client in person and takes a tour of their kitchen, as she uses the equipment in the client’s home, including pots, pans, storage containers and more. If there is equipment that the client doesn’t have, Nestingen will bring her own or suggest purchasing, depending on the situation.

3. Finally, it’s time to determine a schedule and menu. Nestingen has her own recipes but also prepares family favorites and will even peruse Pinterest boards for inspiration about what each family might enjoy. She can accommodate dietary restrictions as needed and can even help a family meet specific dietary goals, such as a healthier and more balanced diet.

Nestingen was inspired to become a home cook while working as a nanny. Grocery shopping and meal prep were part of her responsibilities. It became something she is passionate about. “I love helping my clients free up the time that grocery shopping and cooking takes and allow families to enjoy more time together,” she says.

Launched in May 2015, Cooking by Kate serves a variety of local clients, mostly in the western suburbs including Edina, Minnetonka, Plymouth and Wayzata. One of the unique ways Nestingen markets her services is via local day care centers, a hub for busy families looking for convenience  

Edina residents Jennifer and Todd Miller have been using Nestingen’s services for more than a year. They first heard about Cooking by Kate from a Kinderberry Hill newsletter. As busy parents of three boys—10, 8 and soon-to-be 6—they found it difficult to get dinner on the table each night with both working full time. “Eating together as a family each night is very important to me. Kate has made that possible,” Jennifer says. More recently, Nestingen has prepared healthy lunches for Jennifer and even food for a social gathering she hosted.

Nestingen’s most popular recipe is her meatballs and red sauce, which is fitting given that Italian food is her favorite to prepare. “Italian cooking is simple yet tasty. I like that it focuses on seasonal and fresh ingredients,” she says.

Nestingen charges a flat fee per visit, plus the cost of groceries. Including grocery shopping, each visit takes three to six hours.

To learn more about Cooking by Kate visit the website here or email her at