“He was like, ‘Hey, you like to cook; I hate cooking,’” Likins said, in reference to his first workout partner and first customer, David Nail. The service’s journey started about three years ago. With the support of his friends, family and his church community, Likins went on a weight loss journey from 240 to 178 pounds. Proper Prep Services grew out of his passion for cooking and his workout partner’s distaste for it.
“He said, ‘We’ll split the grocery bill, and I’ll cook,’ so I said, ‘Shoot, let’s do it,’” Nail said. “I’m not married to it.”
Nail told the story a bit differently.
Working out of his kitchen making meals for friends who heard of his services by word of mouth, Likins said the demand outgrew what his home kitchen could offer.
“We turn around and we had containers on every counter in our kitchen, on the bar and on our kitchen table,” Likins said. “It overflowed into our living room onto the coffee table and my wife was finally like, ‘You need to get the heck out of my kitchen, this is too big.’”
That’s when Likins said he sought to go public with his business, quitting his job in sales and finally pursuing his goal full time. First stumbling across a commissary kitchen, he and his team pumped out 70 meals for about 12 individuals in their first week. Last week, that number went to 330 meals for 37 individuals with another 20 currently on a waitlist to get weekly meals from Proper Prep Services.
Likins said Proper Prep Services seeks to provide a nutritional, cheap and easy alternative for individuals looking to improve their diets. They offer daily plans, a-la-carte meals and family-style casseroles.
“Hopefully we can land 15 people in our first month,” Likins said, recalling a conversation with his wife, Melody. “The night we went public, we doubled the size of the business. In three days we completely filled our 15 slots. By the end of the week, the waitlist was just as big as the people we took on.”
Daily plans offer two meals a day from a rotating menu of entrees. Meals are also portioned to different nutritional goals such as weight gain, weight loss and maintenance. Additionally, they have meals for individuals with special dietary needs or those who work with their recommended nutritionist.
Likins, Melody and two other team members make up the staff who regularly spend 10 hours in the kitchen trying to keep up with accelerating demand. With the business finding its legs, Likins said he never expected operations to pick up so quickly. While it normally takes five to six-months to acquire licenses and begin operations, Likins and his wife accomplished it in mere weeks.
Likins is also seeking to give back to the community by working with charities like His Place and Hosanna Home by donating surplus meals. Proper Prep Services also recently provided meals for the cardiovascular intensive care unit at East Alabama Medical Center.
“We just want to thank our community for all of the love and support,” Likins said.
Offering options like bourbon chicken and Philly cheesesteak bowls, Likins said Proper Prep Services seeks to eliminate many of the additives in most store-bought weight loss meals. However, he said the company also emphasizes keeping meals economical, fresh and most of all, appetizing.
Stephanie Harris, Proper Prep Services customer, has been using the services for her and her husband.
“I’ve really enjoyed the meals,” she said. “Of course I’ve got my favorites. There hasn’t been a meal I haven’t enjoyed. They’re filling so I’m satisfied after I eat it. It’s more economical; for just my husband and I for a whole week, we only spend less than $100.”
Proper Prep Services is currently on a waitlist as operations expand, but they are taking orders through Facebook, their website, by phone or email.
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