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August 2013: Jane & Meg at their first farmer's market, Lake Forest, IL
August 2013: Jane & Meg at their first farmer's market, Lake Forest, IL 

In 2012 Meg Barnhart, Founder and Co-Creator of Zen of Slow Cooking, wanted to create a business that could employ individuals with learning challenges - adults like her son, Doug.

When she started slow cooking in 2006 to ease her mom-guilt and get a healthy dinner on the table, she never imagined the slow cooker would be a vehicle for change. With her vision in place, she began looking for a partner to help turn her dream into a reality.

Her friend Joanie called a few months later to say, “I met a young mom named Jane McKay, I think she's the person you’ve been searching for." Jane had just moved to Chicago from the UK with her young family and was developing recipes and writing for a local food artisan. When they met a few weeks later it was clear that they were meant to build Meg’s dream together. 

Meg’s challenge as a young mother was getting dinner on the table. She discovered a new sense of peace and calm through slow cooking. Shifting her meal prep to the morning allowed her to be better organized. The aroma brought a sense of coziness to her home and allowed her to be present to her children. Her slow cooker had become a vehicle for change. The seeds for Zen of Slow Cooking were planted and took root when she met Jane.

In 2012, Meg and Jane launched Zen of Slow Cooking food blog sharing a contemporary approach to slow cooking. Using their most popular recipes, they crafted a line of globally inspired spice blends to provide the flavor foundation for a delicious home-cooked meal.


Jane hand-packing spices in their original tin.

Jane hand-packing spices in their original tin.

In 2016, they met an early investor in Instant Pot®, the most popular branded multi-cooker. Intrigued by the device, Jane set about converting their slow cooker recipes for the pressure cooker setting, allowing the home cook even greater flexibility in the kitchen. They soon discovered that while the slow cooker does the heavy lifting throughout the day, the pressure cooker allows for spontaneity with a faster outcome.

Since then, they have been on a mission to bring Zen of Slow Cooking to more homes across the country and be part of an inclusive economy. From Whole Foods Market to Walmart, from B Corp Certification to award-winning new spices, their journey continues.

2017: Jane & Meg win the Trailblazer award from Search Inc.

2017: Jane & Meg win the Trailblazer award from Search Inc.

Meg's Story

Jane's Story

Zen Timeline