When it comes to meal prepping, one of the biggest pain points is meals that go bad after a few days in the fridge. We’ve all fell victim to this at one point or another. Whether it was with meals you’ve prepped yourself. Or a bad experience with other meal prep services, it is not fun! In fact, it may be the exact reason most people fall off with their nutrition. Our meal prep service made it a point to get rid of this variable and provide our clientele with the same fresh meals on day 7 that they had on day 1.
Through many years of testing different methods, equipment, and research we have managed to come up with a system to accomplish this mission. In this blog, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at our practices as well as facility features that help us provide you the freshest meals possible.
It all starts with the ingredients, our suppliers are all located within a 20-mile radius of our headquarters where the meals are prepped. Having our headquarters this close to our suppliers allows for the transportation time to be drastically reduced. Giving us a greater chance of keeping all the ingredients properly refrigerated and away from the danger zone in foods. This “danger zone” refers to a range in temperature where the growth of illness-causing bacteria is promoted. Our meal prep service is educated on all proper practices for handling the ingredients in order to avoid this zone.
Another benefit of supporting our local suppliers is that our ingredients are higher quality and fresher. It would be impossible to provide fresh meals all week if we were to get ingredients that had already spent time in storage with the suppliers. Often times the larger suppliers will have stored the ingredients for a lot longer. If your a restaurant that serves the food immediately after cooking, this option would be acceptable. Since we’re providing food for a full week, this is simply not an option when it comes to keeping our clients satisfied. We can only have the freshest ingredients for our production. On top of reducing the travel time of our ingredients & inspecting the quality we also take extreme measures to store these properly. Our facility houses 3 different fridges that play a major role in keeping our meals fresh. Bringing us to our next point.
Our fridges take up a total of 1,200 square feet. Having this much fridge space is not a regular occurrence among meal prep services or even restaurants. However, we knew that part of keeping our meals fresh all week would require us to properly cool down and store our ingredients before, during, and after cooking. The second our ingredients arrive we store them in our fridge. This allows us to keep the raw material at the perfect temperature before the prep begins. Upon arrival, our quality control staff will also inspect each ingredient while inside the fridge to confirm its quality. Having our staff perform their tasks inside the fridge ensures that we do not introduce the fresh ingredients to the outside environment unless they are going out to be cooked or plated.
As we are taking out the ingredients for prepping or cooking we have a system in place to ensure that the ingredients do not remain out for too long. As we are cutting, cooking, plating, or sealing the meals we are simultaneously timing their exposer to the outside atmosphere. Each ingredient has a different amount of time that they can be out. Our kitchen staff is extremely diligent and disciplined in making sure that we are within our standards. This practice allows us to once again avoid the danger zone as well as making sure the ingredients do not start to age prematurely.
Once the cooking process is done we will immediately store the food back into our fridge with a cover for each rack of ingredients. This keeps all of the aromas of each individual ingredient from passing on to the next. This phase of our production is the most susceptible to danger zones so our team is always held accountable for taking the necessary steps to keep our food safe. The amount of fridge space we have available allows us to store large quantities of material at different phases of the process.
Once the ingredients are ready for plating we set up our production right outside the fridge with a direct line to our sealing machine. This production line is designed to plate our ingredients as fast as possible. Allowing us to once again minimize the time spent outside the fridge. Our cooks are very aware of the sensitivity of the ingredients and work together to get this task done as fast as possible. Once the meals are done plating, they will go straight to our sealing team.
While all of our practices play a huge role in keeping the meals fresh, it all goes to waste without a quality seal. Most prepped meals go to waste because of an inadequate seal. The traditional Tupperware or snap-on lid containers that other meal prep services use will lead to a compromised environment in the meal. Here is how our sealing machine works.
It starts with our containers. These containers are fitted to the specifications of our machine and tailored to properly seal and preserve the meal for its life span. Once the container is placed on our machine there are multiple sensors and mechanisms that will align it perfectly inside the machine. This machine is extremely advanced and is arguably the best the industry has to offer. Along with this reputation comes the ability to customize many different elements that go into the seal. First, we adjust the amount of suction we want the machine to have. As well as the amount of nitrogen that we will put into the container. Nitrogen is a natural gas and is completely harmless. We simply use this in order to remove oxygen from the meal that is responsible for speeding up the aging process of the food.
As the machine is removing the oxygen, vacuum sealing the meal, it is also applying a thin layer of plastic as the seal. This machine is the top reason we are able to provide 7 days of fresh meals. It was an investment we knew would drastically increase our client’s experience. All these elements can be customized using the computer that is integrated with the sealing machine and contribute to the overall quality of the meals. Now we will look at our cooking process and the reasons for using the methods we choose to use.
The cooking process also plays a role in holding in the nutrients of our food while also making sure that the flavors and textures remain the same all week long. Our meal prep service is home to a total of 3 chefs who are committed to upholding our standards of freshness and in doing so have developed a series of methods to make sure the meals are delicious for the entirety of their life. Our first method is the grill and bake technique.
We can all relate to having cooked some chicken or steak on a prep day only to have it turn to a chewy and rubbery texture by day 3. It’s horrible and makes consuming your meals an unbearable task. Part of providing fresh meals all week long involves executing on the cooking of our proteins to avoid this pain point. In order to do this, we use a half grill half bake technique. This works by using our grill or sear to create a crisp outer shell on the protein. Followed by a bake in our rotating oven to complete the cook. This oven will rotate the proteins while in the oven to evenly cook them. As well as offering us a variety of temperature gauges to ensure a proper cook.
After the time in the oven is done. Our chefs will then conduct a final inspection to make sure all the meats have cooked to the right temperature for their specifications. Using this technique utilizes the crisp outer shell to lock in the moisture of the oven. Allowing our proteins the ability to retain more flavors as well as texture. Our meal prep service prides itself on alleviating all the pain points of meal prepping and while the texture of proteins is a big one, we also knew that vegetables presented their own problem. That problem is a soggy and bland texture that occurs when stored away for days at a time. Our solution? Blanching.
The blanching process is simply a method of rapidly boiling our vegetables followed by a rapid cool down in an ice bath. How does this help you? There are many benefits to this method. For starters, this method will help hold on to more minerals and nutrients that the vegetables have to offer. While also providing the perfect crunch all week and enhanced colors in your meals. Using the blanching technique gives the vegetables the same crunch on day 7 that they had on day 1. Our team is like clockwork when it comes to this process, it is extremely time-sensitive and has to be executed perfectly. Much like the half grill and bake technique, this is for the longevity of our meals. We want a quality experience all week long. Holding the integrity of textures while adding vibrant colors for presentation creates an experience with every meal.
Our packing is custom-made and tailored for our containers as well as ice packs. Every delivery is packed in a reusable thermal insulated bag that fits our container’s dimensions and holds in the cool air from our ice packs. We use multiple ice packs depending on the amount of time the delivery will take.
This packaging process will take place inside of our industrial-sized fridge that houses our employees every Sunday. They will work in this fridge to avoid taking the meals out in a warm environment. Keeping your meals refrigerated for as much time as possible before departing our facility to your doorstep. Want to see the unboxing of our meals? Click here!
Our last point to cover is the delivery process. The delivery is the final check to ensure a quality set of meals and we take great responsibility in training our drivers properly to do so.
The delivery process is expressed to our drivers as the first impression. Being an online-based meal prep service means that the first in-person interaction with our clients happens upon the first delivery and all the deliveries after that. While it may seem like a simple task of just dropping off meals, it is far from that. We have to train our drivers to handle and care for the meals to uphold the integrity of their freshness. This involves rules such as not places bags on warm surfaces, not allowing bags to slide around in their cars as well as parking in shaded areas to keep the meals out of warmer spots.
On top of this training, we also have a staff our logistic routers. These routers will time and route each delivery to optimize the driver’s time and minimize the amount of time your meals spend outside our fridge. While routing for efficiency we are also calculating how many ice packs each delivery will need. Our meal prep service delivers to all of San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles. Making this routing a key factor in making sure all the work put into the meals is presented to our highest standards.
We did a ton of talking and explaining, are you ready to see for yourself? We would love the opportunity to showcase all this work to you. To prove it we want to give you 50% off your first order, Code “1st”. Click here to see your plan options.