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For help eating right, crowds are heading to meal prep services

Mark DeDomenico knows the details of the diet that will allow him to reach his fitness goals.

It’s the doing that’s that hard part.

More than a decade of training, and weightlifter friends have given him concrete goals. “I know how you’re supposed to eat, your protein levels and your carbs and all that kind of stuff, eat five times a day and all that,” said DeDomenico, who is 62, and an owner of Cohen’s Bakery.

“Food is really key to getting into shape, and staying in shape,” he said. “You really should be prepping your food ahead.” When he’s on, there’s 10 containers in the refrigerator with healthy, balanced meals.

“Sometimes I’ll do that and sometimes I don’t. I get lazy, I’m busy with work, whatever, life.”

That’s where the meal prep service comes in. Like a growing number of people, DeDomenico has started buying meals from a food service business that combines a dieter’s rigor for portion control with the convenience of a drive-through restaurant.

Meal prep businesses do what calorie-conscious people would do if they had the time and willingness to shop, cook, and clean up afterward. For $5 to $8 per meal, meal prep services offer non-processed food that meets the requirements of dieters willing to pay for convenience of filling their refrigerator for the week. Most of them even deliver.

DeDomenico usually picks his meals up from an Eat Rite location near his gym. “I work out at Fitness Factory on Wednesdays and go over and buy four or five at a time,” he said. “They also have some protein bars I like.”

Jarrett Coppin, a scientist in his 30s, has been getting about 95 percent of his weekly meals from Eat Rite. Coppin is in training, with some weightlifting marks he’d like to hit, but is more focused on overall fitness.

He’s tried several services, and has stuck with Eat Rite for its “ease of ordering, pick up, bulk pricing and tracking,” he said. Like most local meal prep offerings, each Eat Rite meal bears a label describing the amount of carbohydrate, fat, and protein included.

“What makes it worth it, is time savings,” Coppin said.

At Feature Meals, the restaurant and meal prep service that opened in downtown Buffalo in 2018, co-owner Michael Khoury said that it’s growth season for meal prep.

“Everyone sees crazy spikes this time of year, when everyone’s on their New Year’s resolutions, everyone’s trying to eat healthy, everyone’s trying to be disciplined,” he said last month. “While restaurants are typically slow in January and February, this is like a meal prep company’s Super Bowl.”

Most meal prep places have meals ready to go, but Feature Meals restaurant setup allows customers to pick individual meals made in the moment.

“We provide macros, the nutrition numbers, but we’re more concentrating on providing a diverse array of food that tastes good,” Khoury said. “We’re trying to hit the everyman, that’s our target.”

It’s a hit with people like Steve Karosik, 32, a graphic designer who works downtown.

“It’s the simplicity of getting lunch for the whole week from one pickup,” he said. “It’s also cheaper than most takeout per meal.”

Sometimes he likes to “mix it up a bit, and do prep for four days, and something else on Friday for fun.”

In the end, he’s drawn back, for convenience, and for the service that makes up for weaknesses.

“The prep also forces me to eat some veggies,” he said, “which I’m really bad about.”

 

Feature Meals

Address: 598 Main St.

Phone: 436-5055

Meal types: paleo, keto, gluten-free, vegan, pollotarian

Pricing: $6, $55 for 10

Ordering: Saturday

Delivery: Sunday night ($5)

Pickups: Mondays

Serving since: 2018

 

Eat Rite Foods

Addresses: 1 Delaware Road, Kenmore; 1785 Military Road, Niagara Falls;

Phone: 445-1067

Meal types: breakfast, regular, premier, gluten-free

Pricing: $6/$8 ready to go, pre-order $56 for 10

Delivery: Sunday, Thursday night ($10)

Pickups: Sunday, Thursday

Serving since: 2016

 

Balanced Body Foods

Address: 4685 Transit Road, Clarence, 1375 Hertel Ave.

Phone: 508-7526

Meal types: traditional, gluten-free, vegan, keto, treats, sides

Pricing: $7.50, $70 for 10

Ordering: Saturday, Wednesday

Delivery: $10

Pickups: Sunday, Wednesday

Serving since: 2018

 

95 Nutrition

Addresses: 2488 Grand Island Blvd., Grand Island; 3525 Seneca St., West Seneca; 4125 Transit Road, Clarence; 2674 Delaware Ave.; 141 Buffalo St., Hamburg; and 5730 S. Transit Road, Lockport.

Phone: 465-1920

Meal types: breakfast, lunch, dinner, soups, salads

Pricing: $6.99 women’s portions, $7.99 men’s portions, down to $5.40, $6 with volume discounts

Ordering: Saturday, Wednesday

Delivery: $10, shipping available

Pickups: Wednesday, Saturday

Serving since: 2015

 

Project Lean Nation

Address: 7350 Transit Road, Clarence

Phone: 428-3956

Meal types: signature, lifestyle, athlete (frozen and fresh)

Pricing: $7-$9, with volume discounts

Ordering: Wednesday

Delivery: Saturday, $12.50, shipping available

Pickups: Saturday

Serving since: 2012

 

BBG2Go

Phone: 545-1517

Address: 4510 Lake Ave., Blasdell

Meal types: fit meals, fast meals, gluten-free, vegetarian

Pricing: $5-$6

Ordering: Friday

Delivery: Monday ($10)

Pickups: Monday

Serving since: 2018

 

Kitchen 32

Phone: 649-3232

Address: 5 Lake St., Hamburg; Southgate Plaza, 950 Union Road, West Seneca; 735 Delaware Road, Tonawanda.

Meal types: breakfast, low-carb, regular

Pricing: $5.50, $4.90 in lots of 40

Ordering: Wednesday (walk-in available).

Delivery: $8

Pickups: Saturday

Serving since: 2018

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