By SIM RISSO
Business Journal Writer
Many people want to eat healthy, but they don’t have the time to do it. Between commuting to work, time spent in the office and spending time with family and friends, their schedules are full.
Companies throughout the Central Valley are finding a way to fill that niche by offering home delivery of nutritional meals at an affordable price. The companies offering this service have a few differences between what each offers, but one thing that’s similar across the board is they all say now is a good time to be getting into the business.
“The country as a whole is obviously way more health-conscience than it’s ever been,” said Thomas Asseo, co-CEO for Fresh n’ Lean. “There’s a lot of research that indicates that, and it’s pretty obvious in what you see in advertising and so on. Now more than ever, people seem to care not just about the nutritional value of their food but where it comes from.”
Valley Meal Prep is a Modesto-based company that’s been in business for two years.
It offers pick-up options for customers to come into its location and grab a meal. On average, the company sells about 300 meals daily this way. But Valley Meal Prep also offers delivery for its customers, with a network that reaches as far south as Clovis and as far north as Sacramento, as well as covering the whole Bay Area.
The company offers 45 different chef specials on its menu that change seasonally. All its ingredients are gathered locally, with the cost of meals averaging about $6 or $7 each for members.
According to Matt Martin, chef and co-owner at Valley Meal Prep, what makes his company different from the others is the quality of the food. Martin has been an executive chef at three restaurants. Like him, all the other chefs at Valley Meal Prep are graduates of either Le Cordon Bleu or California Culinary Academy.
“I see these other companies just copying what everyone else is doing,” said Martin. “They’re a bunch of guys that work out, and they realize that they know how to bake chicken, so they do it.
We’re the only team of chefs that I know within a hundred miles doing meal prep that actually are just chefs cooking you good quality food with amazing presentation and an amazing quantity to choose from.”
Go Fresh is another Modesto-based company. Go Fresh delivers meals to your home. Additionally, it has a storefront location in downtown Modesto and another one opening in Turlock that will also offer a juice bar.
Co-owner Billy Anderson started the business in September 2014 as Prep for Success Meals, but the company rebranded to Go Fresh at the current location in January 2016. Originally, Anderson got into the business to offer meals for bodybuilders and athletes but soon realized the demand went beyond athletes and exercise enthusiasts.
Since then, Go Fresh has seen its clientele change to include everyday working professionals looking for a balanced diet. In addition to its storefront, Go Fresh delivers as far south as Turlock, as far north as Stockton and covers the whole East Bay.
According to Anderson, Go Fresh separates from the competition through its customer service.
“Our No. 1 thing in our 10 core commandments is deliver wow through service,” said Anderson. “We want our customers leaving the door and going, wow that was the best service. I can’t always control what somebody is going to like flavor-wise, but I can always guarantee that when they come here they’re going to get the friendliest service.”
Fresh n’ Lean is a company that operates out of Chino Hills but delivers throughout the United States, with a focus on California. It has customers throughout the Central Valley.
The company started as a family business seven years ago. Asseo’s father had a health scare and had to rework his diet. While making food for him, Asseo’s sister saw the potential to turn it into a business.
Now it’s an operation that Asseo says makes meals much like one would at home, only instead of producing one meal at a time, it makes 500.
Fresh n’ Lean prides itself on giving customers a good value on their dollar. It aims to average $10 per meal, which includes delivery, while keeping all ingredients natural and organic.
“I think you can find services that are probably a little cheaper, but they’re usually frozen and almost never organic,” said Asseo. “And you can find fresh-delivered organic services, but they’re usually much more expensive. I think that’s where we shine is we offer that value for the dollar, and we don’t compromise on quality.”
Leilani Sandoval owns 80 Percent What You Eat in Tracy. Her company has been in business for a year. It serves Tracy, Mountain House, Livermore and Stockton and offers delivery as well as the option to pick up your food.
Sandoval doesn’t have a thyroid gland and was trying to find ways to manage her weight. After not getting desired results through exercise, she went on a strict diet. Her progress improved, and she decided to share what she learned as part of a business.
The company focuses on natural, organic, non-GMO foods that also taste good. For example, she’ll make chicken pisole or a Kahlua turkey bowl but make it lean.
80 Percent What You Eat is also unique in that Sandoval puts cancer-fighting foods in her meals for those who are on a chemotherapy cycle. The company’s meals average about $10 to $12 with a focus on flavor.
“All of our clients will tell you the flavor is there,” said Sandoval. “Ours costs a bit more, but you’re going to get the taste of these fresh vegetables from the farm. You’re going to be able to taste that you’re getting quality meat and quality ingredients. That’s what sets us out from other people.”