This article originally appeared in the July 2016 “Foodie 40” issue of Buffalo Spree Magazine.
Anyone who has tried to eat fresh, homecooked meals can vouch for the amount of time it takes to plan, poke through recipes, shop for ingredients, then chop, stir, and cook up a week’s worth of breakfast, lunches, snacks, and dinner. It’s so much easier to give up and order a pizza.
Keeping people who lack kitchen skill or time on track diet-wise is the impetus behind a growing number of food-prep services that have popped up recently throughout Western New York. These services operate on a fairly simple premise: people pay a set price for a healthy selection of meals that are freshly prepared, packaged in microwavable portions, and available at a set pick-up or delivery day each week. Dining plans include seven to forty meals per week, and cost roughly $5 and $7 per meal.
WTF Chef in Cheektowaga allows clients to customize their meals’ nutrition profiles (more protein, fewer carbs) and provides a variety of dishes accordingly.
Eat Rite Foods, which offers two pick-up days or delivery within a thirty-mile radius of its kitchen, publishes weekly menus for customers to build their meal packages.
95 Nutrition ships nationwide or preps food for a Saturday pickup at its Grand Island location, which features a cooler for grab-and-go items and a nutritional supplement shop.
Project Lean Nation in Williamsville offers meal pickup or delivery, first responder discounts, and meal subscriptions focused on fat loss, Paleo/gluten free diets, or the unique nutritional needs of athletes.
Eat Rite Foods
Food-prep customers range from competitive football players and bodybuilders to regular people who are pressed for time or trying to slim down due to a health scare or impending high school reunion.
“A lot of couples use our ten-meal plan as a lunch option for work to avoid food trucks or spending too much on restaurants,” explains Eat Rite Foods co-owner Luke Bright.
Skimming the meal prep menus reveals that “healthy” doesn’t always mean “tastes like cardboard and compost.” Dishes include balsamic-glazed sirloin, pizza wraps, smokey applewood chicken, protein-packed banana bread, and southwest breakfast bowls to name a few.
“We want customers to feel like they’re eating at a restaurant,” says 95 Nutrition owner Lindsey O’Farrell, who will go six months before repeating most recipes on her menu. “We call it sustainable eating; we want to use portion control and delicious food to teach people to eat for life.”