Health and fitness devotees are fond of saying “Abs are made in the kitchen,” acknowledging that nutrition is as important as working out.
But many people who manage to get to the gym on a regular basis struggle with the diet part of the equation. With limited time to cook, they rely on take-out, fast food or frozen meals from the supermarket.
The food industry has stepped in with meal services that ship frozen meals prepared many miles away.
“You’re going to pay $9 for shipping, and you’re getting meals that are at least three days old, and the quality is not great,” said Tillman Huett, CEO of Fast Fit Foods, a Colorado Springs meal service that aims to provide healthy meals that meet customers’ needs for good nutrition and convenience.
The company prepares and delivers fresh, fully cooked meals to customers who order online and stocks meals and snacks for walk-in customers at two retail locations.
Fast Fit Foods began as a service Huett’s brother and sister-in-law, personal trainers Taylor and Natalie McLaren, were offering for the competitive athletes and body builders who were their clients.
“They were providing meals for them essentially wholesale,” Huett said.
Requests for their meals soon outgrew what they could prepare in their small apartment kitchen, and they moved into a location at 1831 Briargate Blvd.
They enlisted two more partners, trainers Nick Smith and Charles Arenas, to help develop a spinoff business, and in July 2018 opened a retail store on Cheyenne Mountain Boulevard.
The founders agreed that they wanted to keep prices affordable, pricing individual meals so they were competitive with what customers would spend at the grocery store.
Huett, who was director of the China Youth Business League, worked on marketing and other backend aspects from afar.
By the time Huett returned from China a little more than a year ago, “there was definitely some air under the wings here and people were responding very positively.”
The company’s growth since then has been phenomenal.
“In November 2017, we might have been serving 10-15 customers a week,” he said. “Now that number has grown to about 2,500 customers every week and recurring meal plan subscriptions. That equates to about 10,000 people a month.”
Revenue has quadrupled in the past six months: “We’re about mid-seven figures in revenue,” Huett said.
Meals start at $6.99, and the company offers discounts to customers who subscribe for seven, 14 or 21 meals.
A second retail store opened in July on Stetson Hills Boulevard.
Customers can choose from about 25 menu items and have meals delivered to their doors for a small charge. They can also pick up orders or select meals and snacks from grab-and-go coolers at two retail locations.
Meals are prepared on the day of delivery in the Briargate Boulevard commercial kitchen, using organic, GMO-free ingredients.
Meals can be customized to meet special dietary needs.
For customers who want to follow the popular keto diet, Huett said, “We will take out the major source of carbohydrates and replace them with vegetables. If you are diabetic, you can swap out sweet potatoes for broccoli or green beans, and you can change out most of the meat we use for ground bison if you’re looking for leaner meat.”
Besides athletes, Fast Fit Foods’ customer base includes seniors, members of the military and parents with small children.
“We’ve been able to tap into a lot of growing segments that were otherwise unserved,” Huett said.
The company carries a line of nutritional supplements at the retail stores and recently introduced protein snacks that can work as total meal replacements.
“We always are trying to push the boundaries of what we think is possible for something with incredible taste but also doesn’t ruin your body and doesn’t ruin your bank account,” Huett said.
Fast Fit Foods now is poised for even greater expansion.
“We’re planning on putting up a few more retail locations very soon in 2020,” Huett said. “And we actually just acquired another prepared meal company in Sarasota, Fla. But our biggest focus will be moving into Denver. There’s a few major players there in meal prep, but we believe that we will be able to take them on. Our prices are much more competitive, and our meals are just better.”
The company is committed to giving back to the community that nurtured it.
“In July 2019 alone, we donated almost 900 meals and spent over $9,000 with local suppliers using our partner FoodMaven,” Huett said. “We are dedicated to providing access to affordable nutrition for all people.”