Campbell, Allison  “Meet Lisa Kempston: homemaker, teacher, wife, mother and efficiency expert”
Saint Paul Pioneer Press, Minn.

06/01/1999

ST. PAUL, Minn. - It’s no summer shower of activity when Lisa Kempston cooks. It’s a four-day thunderstorm. The full-time homemaker releases lightning bolts of energy as she bustles about the kitchen, doubling, tripling and quadrupling recipes to feed her family of five for an entire year.

By the end of the weekend-long cooking marathon, a freezer the size of a hot tub will be filled to capacity with meatballs, enchiladas, lasagna and other family favorites. But for Kempston, the superhuman effort - even the National Enquirer featured her, referring to her as a “kitchen magician” - is worthwhile. In the long run, it saves her time, stress and money….

Luckily, Kempston finds organizing fun. During her cooking binge, she prepares about 150 family-size entrees and individual dishes, using 29 recipes - she’s still searching for a magical combination of 30. Once she decides on the recipes, she collates the grocery list. This year, she divided the shopping into two trips: perishables and nonperishables. When she gets home, she tapes up the recipes on her cupboard doors and stacks the groceries around the kitchen.

Using an assembly-line method, she prepares the food. A few months after the Big Cook, Kempston shops for bread. Some of her favorite places are Turtle Bread Company, Breadsmith and Great Harvest. She tops the loaves with cheese and garlic and freezes them for later. Kempston is so freezer-fixated that, when the subject of Thai food is brought up, she says, “That freezes well…”

Even she had to ease into it. When she first married 10 years ago, she prepared an entire week’s worth of dinners on the weekend. Then, after Alex was born, she cooked every two months. “I was getting spoiled - very spoiled,” Kempston says. “I went to four months at about the time Kate was born.” After becoming comfortable with that schedule, she decided to stretch it farther. “I went to a year, which is a little much, but there’s no going back.” That mindset carries over into the rest of her cooking. At bake sale time, Kempston and the kids make hundreds of cookies. “I can’t make anything and not triple the recipe,” she says. “It’s just not efficient.