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088 – Eric and Leslie Benz, Hunter Gatherer Dinners

088 – Eric and Leslie Benz, Hunter Gatherer Dinners


I apologize for the moments of bad audio…tried like heck to fix it! Any gurus out there? I’m all ears! Literally. After hours of battle, the headphones have melded themselves to my head!

Quick, Healthy Dinner Work. With Slow, Conscious Growth and Balance. Welcome to Episode 88! In this conversation, I speak with Eric and Leslie Benz of Hunter Gatherer Dinners. Shelf-stable meal kits that are convenient, quick, and produced locally. Dinner kits seem a trend that’s here to stay, but unlike big box companies such as Blue Apron, when you purchase a Hunter Gatherer Dinner you know exactly how and where your kit is created. And unlike those other companies, most of the packaging is biodegradable. Hunter Gatherer Dinners can sit in your pantry until you need them, the perfect dinner solution on those nights when you come home exhausted. The Benz’s develop the recipes, source the ingredients, and package each kit with care by hand. Each kit contains everything you need to create a delicious, healthy main dish and side. All you add is your favorite protein. Every ingredient is premeasured and the label contains not only a shopping list but clearly numbered steps so even a novice can put a tasty, healthy meal on the table in 20-30 minutes. With Hunter Gatherer Dinners if you can count, you can cook.

Partner a kit with your local CSA share! Or something like Meat Club from JM Stock Provisions! Or produce you pick up at the farmer’s market! Each kit fits well with your favorite protein and most of the side dishes are ancient grains like farro, quinoa, and wild rice. Hunter Gatherer Dinners are all low fat, some are gluten-free, while others can be easily adapted for vegetarians. Even the black beans in the Bonanza Chili have been pre-cooked then dehydrated to cut down on prep time.

They also make the perfect gift! Consider a young couple getting married and just setting up house, or a student heading off to college. How about a housewarming gift, something easy to prepare while you unpack your kitchen? And a terrific Christmas gift for all the hikers and campers and hunters on your list. Or even the gift of convenience for yourself during a hectic holiday season.

In a world where there never seems to be enough time, reaching for an overprocessed pre-prepared meal is an easy choice. But eating this way long term can cause serious health issues and high medical bills. Eating clean is not only essential to good health but in this day and age, it’s becoming an act of resistance. Food as medicine. As a former cancer survivor, Eric Benz understands this. With Leslie they have created a kit marrying both ideas. Clean eating plus convenience.

Origins of the name? We are all hunter gatherers. As conscious consumers, we hunt and gather ingredients to make healthy meals for ourselves and our families. Especially if you have special dietary needs like paleo, vegan, or gluten-free you are hunting and gathering every time you shop. The Benz’s are foodies from the west coast as well as passionate advocates for the outdoors and its health benefits. Hunter Gatherer Dinners was started because they wanted to take their passion for food and create something together. Leslie handles the graphic design, Eric handles logistics. Both collaborate on recipe development and brainstorming.

To get the word out, they use a face-to-face approach. Converting one customer at a time to their cause. Which means demos. Lots of them, including the Charlottesville City Market. And Whole Foods for the time being. We talk about Amazon’s acquisition and what it might mean for small businesses who use this high-traffic location to spread the news about their products. Community events like Tomtoberfest and teaching events through the Boys and Girls Clubs also help, not only with marketing but getting young folks cooking and eating with awareness. Future plans? Buying an RV and traveling the country, managing the business from the road. Blogging and videos and social media from campgrounds and RV parks around the country. More boots on the ground advertising, converting customers one camper at a time.

How do you manage your time, prioritize, when there’s only the two of you while at the same time growing your business? Is it more important to chase the big boys like Whole Foods or should you focus on getting your product into smaller, local markets? How did they develop their recipes? We talk about it all. The organic movement has been around since there have been hunters and gatherers. Convenience foods which made their appearance at the beginning of the 20th century moved our focus but that focus is definitely curving back around. Now eating clean is an act of resistance against big corporations and big agriculture and the Benz’s are proud to be a part of that. Hunter Gatherer Dinners are available at most of your favorite local stores, at Whole Foods, Ellwood Thompson, on Amazon, on Etsy, and on their website. These kits are big on taste when you’re short on time. Get yours today but not before listening to this wonderful conversation. Cheers!

Hunter Gatherer Dinner Kit Varieties:

Seared Steak or Venison with Red Wine Chocolate Sauce and Wild Rice with Cranberries
Cedar Plank Game Hen with Porcini Quinoa Pilaf
Cedar Plank Pork Tenderloin with Farro Risotto
Cedar Plank Salmon with Moroccan Couscous and Sultanas
Chicken Curry with Jasmine Rice
Rio Grande Taco Mix with Ancho Black Beans
Stuffed Acorn Squash with Wild Rice and Porcini Mushroom
Bonanza Chili

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