LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - As people continue to work more and have less time to cook, the idea of fresh healthy meals on the go is cooking up big business for three area companies. The companies are targeting a growing number of people who are trying low calorie or low carb diets or just want to eat healthy food versus chips or candy from a work vending machine.
Inside a kitchen at Masterson's on Lexington Road, chef-made fresh and healthy meals are being prepared and packaged and it's all about convenience for the customer. Bite Meals, a company that began in July 2016, has a target audience.
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"People who are working professionals who really don't have time to cook," explained Ryan Kiehl, the Midwest regional manager for Bite Meals.
Bite Meals are ready-to-eat meals you can customize. They come with calorie and carb labels and are overnighted to your door in a refrigerator temperature box. Several fitness centers in Louisville and Southern Indiana also offer pickup so customers can bypass shipping costs.
Some Bellarmine and University of Louisville grads hooked up with two fitness industry standouts to form the company. One of them, Katy Hearn, has a huge following on Instagram. Together, business is booming. The company with 25 employees went from shipping 1,500 meals per week to 10,000. This year they're opening two new distribution centers.
"We're opening a location in Las Vegas to help suffice with the shipping to the West Coast," Kiehl said.
Meanwhile, inside a kitchen on Mary Street, Louisville chef Patty McCormack mixes and measures the ingredients for her popular ranch burgers.
"This all just gets mixed up and it's really fun," said a laughing McCormack while showing us the preparation.
From soups to barbecue chicken, McCormack and her company, Food For a Better You, has an extensive menu.
"I got started by having a part time job just prep cooking for another chef who was working with some clinics," McCormack said.
Those businesses, like 25 Again and InShape MD help clients with the popular and calorie restrictive HCG diet. McCormack came up with her own recipes and the flavors hit with hundreds of customers.
"My spice cabinet is huge," McCormack said smiling.
McCormack's list of clients continues to grow. In just five years, she says the success still surprises her.
"Yes, the fact that I can support myself and three kids with just this."
Speaking of kids, Loren Mills didn't forget them. Pointing to a sample of her boxed meals, Mills said, "We have a ham and Colby-Jack Sammie."
From puzzle piece and dinosaur sandwiches to fruit and veggies with granola and fun utensils, Mills just started the company, The Lunch Box For Kids, on Valentine's Day 2017.
"It saves mom and dad from going to the grocery store to plan it, prep it, fix it," said Mills while explaining the concept that her family created, "and it's just one less thing on their to do list every week."
With gluten free and nut free options, recyclable boxes and parent word of mouth, orders from parents with elementary and pre-school students in Louisville and Southern Indiana took off like a rocket.
"From PTO meetings, bake sales, craft fairs, you name it, we were there," Mills said.
All three companies offer local pickup and price per meals range from $5 to $10. You can find all the information on pricing and shipping or pickup on their websites.