A Proper Meal

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PHOTO BY SAM DICHIARA / FOR THE OBSERVER

Proper Prep Services Makes Eating Healthy More Convenient

BY SAM DICHIARA
FOR THE OBSERVER

OPELIKA —

The popularity of fast-food restaurants should serve as proof that many people dislike cooking and would prefer others take care of it. However, this is not always the case. Brian Likens, owner of Proper Prep Services, believes he is the exception.

 “I love to cook, so for the past year, I’ve literally been able to say I’m living the dream,” he said.

Likens estimates that he has prepared over 40,000 meals in the span of a year. He said he expects and hopes that number will increase to 70,000 to 80,000 this coming year.

“Proper Prep Services is a company that basically serves healthy food at a convenience,” Likens said. “So these meals are pre-portioned, whole foods. We don’t use anything out of cans. You just store it in your refrigerator and when you’re ready to eat it, pop it in the microwave for 90 seconds and you’re good to go. We’ve had nothing but five-star reviews since we opened.” 

Likens’ inspiration for his new venture came out of a necessity that many can relate to.

“Four years ago, I was 240 pounds,” he said. “I’ve always been an athlete. Growing up, I played football and soccer and was generally a very active person. Somewhere along the way, I just kind of gave up on that, got up to 240 pounds and decided something’s got to change. I started working out five days a week, running two to three times a week with a buddy of mine, and he actually asked, ‘Hey, if I buy most of the food, will you start meal prepping for us?’ And that is how it got started.”

PHOTO BY SAM DICHIARA / FOR THE OBSERVER

Likens and Proper Prep Services are gearing up for their second year serving high-quality, healthy meals to the Auburn-Opelika area, as well as customers from as far as Columbus and Montgomery.

“Within two days of opening, we had 15 people, and before the weekend was over, we had 40 people on a waiting list,” Likens said. “It just took off higher, further, faster than I ever thought. Instead of stopping to grab fast food on the go when you’re in between appointments or on your lunch break, this is a guilt-free meal you can take with you.”

The company officially opened for business last year and has been providing customers with nutritious, convenient, freshly made meals since then. One week’s menu included chicken stir-fry, blackened tilapia and Southwest ground turkey. Other featured fan favorites include the taco power bowl, West Coast salmon, smothered BBQ chicken and turkey meatball pasta — all prepared from fresh ingredients by a team dedicated to the quality of its meals.

“A lot of people have just enjoyed having somebody that can cook, prepare fresh meals for them,” he said. “Everything we do is done with the utmost attention to freshness. Each week, we rotate out three different menu items. I’ve made everything from Italian to Mexican food to Greek food. We’ve done a Laotian dish. I’ve made Caribbean-style and Cajun-style dishes as well.”

Likens’ body weight soon dropped from 240 pounds to 178 pounds, he said.

“My wife took a picture of me and my son on the beach and posted it on Facebook, and that’s kind of where it took off,” Likens said. “That’s when people said, ‘What the heck have you been doing? You look amazing.’ And I said, ‘Eating right and working out.’”

Likens said he is especially proud that one client who was diagnosed as pre-diabetic dropped 25 pounds in three months and is no longer pre-diabetic. Another client lost 40 pounds in the same time span.

According to Likens, the personal touch makes the business unique.

“There are no other meal prep companies local to the Opelika-Auburn area,” he said. “What sets us apart, unlike going into a big box store or ordering online, you’re getting a local interaction with an actual human. You get to see the kitchen we’re cooking out of, you get to see the staff that’s there, we’re talking to people, we’re joking with people, we’re encouraging them. We really just try to serve our community as best we can. I was born and raised here in Opelika, and to be able to help other people in the community really means a lot to me.”

Customers can contact Proper Prep Services through its Facebook page by commenting on the weekly menu or by sending a direct message. People can also reach out directly through the company’s website, properprepservices.com. According to Likens, Proper Prep offers three different pick-up times: 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., and from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Mondays, and Tuesdays from 5 to 6 p.m.

“When I started this, it was all about helping athletes meet their fitness goals,” he said. “When we opened to the public, it was a lot of people that were just wanting to eat better, which is great. My passion is cooking and fitness. I love helping people train. This coming year, we’re opening a personal training side to Proper Prep.”

When reflecting over the journey, Likens expressed disbelief.

“If somebody four years ago told me this would’ve been a business, I would’ve laughed,” he said. “For you to tell me it would last a year, I would’ve laughed again. It’s just been crazy, the response from the community.”

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