Healthy alternatives to fast food can be hard to find without knowing where to look.
Rick Pittenger is doing his best to spread the word.
As a pandemic gripped the entire country, Patterson made the bold decision in December 2020 to open Healthy James Meal Prep (5541 Clinton Highway) in Powell.
“You’d be surprised how many people in the Knoxville area care about health and fitness,” Pittenger said.
“You have the gym members and the bodybuilders, but you also have the single mom who works all day and wants something healthy for herself and her kids.”
Pittenger is here to meet those needs. Healthy James Meal Prep offers nutritious, chef-prepared meals available for purchase in-store a la carte, online individually, or by subscription.
“We can cook your meals for a week,” Pittenger said. “Just pop it in the microwave, air fryer or oven and within minutes it’s ready to eat. If you can’t finish all your meals in a week, put them in the freezer and eat them later.
Variety on the menu
Among the popular dishes that are offered are shaped steak and shaped salmon. The preparation takes into account specific dietary needs such as paleo, vegan, keto and gluten-free.
There is no registered dietitian on staff, but the transparency helps the client make decisions.
“All of our meals come with a full macro analysis of everything in them,” Pittenger said. “We list carbohydrates, proteins, everything. We offer nutritional information online.
Pittenger said there are 45-50 meals available online, while 20-25 are available in-store.
A meal consists of a main item such as steak, salmon or other seafood or meat, a vegetable and rice, sweet potatoes or another substitute. Rice cabbage can be used as a healthy option. In addition, crusted cabbage is used to give a healthy touch to pizzas.
Add to that natural healthy smoothies, smoothie bowls, wellness teas, iced coffee and other snacks and the franchise offers a wide range of food products.
Pittenger said when the business started, 200 to 250 meals were prepared. Today, between 750 and 1,000 meals are prepared. Meals cost between $8.99 and $11.99. Buying in quantities of 10, 15, 20 and more lowers the price per meal.
On normal weekdays, orders are taken by phone (865-247-6445) or online (healthyjames.com) by Thursday at 8 p.m. The chef prepares meals all day Friday. On Saturday, the packers prepare the meals for distribution or pick-up. Most meals are picked up or delivered between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Sundays.
Monday through Thursday (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.), meals are available for purchase à la carte in store or online. The chef spends this time preparing the necessary for the big cooking day on Friday.
Pittenger, 58, said that over the past three years, while working with his company’s healthy options, his weight had dropped from 286 pounds to 216.
“I had been in the automotive business,” Pittenger said. “When I transitioned, I wanted to get involved in something that was health related. Not only has the business grown, but it has also helped me.