TJ's Meal Prep: How it got started -Part 2
Updated: Feb 8, 2022
The next level.
After a few weeks of my mom's coworkers begging to order, I opened the menu up to a few more people. Keep in mind, this was the very early stages of Tj's Meal Prep. I barely had 36 meals and I was still testing recipes. Some items were great freshly made but not everything can be meal-prepped to last all week long. I was worried that if I didn't have everything perfected then I would turn people off to the idea of my business and the whole thing would flop. Boy, was I wrong!
Shortly after my mom's coworkers began ordering, I knew I needed a better system. The pen and paper weren't cutting it anymore. The tally marks and hand counting left too much room for error. My mom went without meals if I had too few, I ate the same thing every day if I made too many. It was a little chaotic to say the least. On top of that, all payments were cash and my mom had to be the mediator for her office. Can you say messy?
I am not new to the Website Design world. I had already made a website from scratch for my restaurant, fully equipped with online ordering. I knew that was my next step for TJ's Meal Prep. I wanted something crisp, clean & simple. Easy to navigate and user friendly from a desktop or cell phone. And so was born the website you're on now. Lots of white and bright pictures. Little words to keep it simple. That all came easy to me with my past experience. The best part was, I was able to begin accepting credit card payments at the time of order. Talk about a stress reliever! Now to keep building the menu.
At the early stages of TJ's, we had heavy duty containers and reusable grocery bags. All customers would return the bags with washed containers when they picked up the following week. We would swap bags and they'd be on their way. It seems great, until it wasn't. As I expanded the menu, added the website, and finally made social media pages, the word got out. My orders began doubling each week. Which meant the number of containers (that I already had to have double of for the swap) now jumped to quadruple. I was spending more than 3 hours a week re-washing and sanitizing the containers alone. Not ideal and definitely a waste of time. So, we upgraded to recyclable containers that no longer have to be returned and we've kept that ever since.
After the main dish items, the next product we added were our Snack Packs. Fruits/veggies/nuts/cheese/etc all in one container. Perfect for in-between meals or a light lunch. These things went like crazy! We now offer 6 different ones every week. After the snack packs, it was like the flood gates opened up. Overnight oats, yogurt parfaits, bento boxes, breakfast egg cups, pancakes, lunchbox friendly meals, toddler sized meals, platters for parties, platters for at home, grazing boards for holidays, grazing boxes, grazing tables, catering weddings.....WHAT?! Excuse me, I was just making chicken & green beans and all of a sudden I'm booked to cater parties & weddings? What is happening?
To make a long story short, TJ's Meal Prep was started because I posted my meal-prepped chicken & green beans on my Snapchat story in 2020. And here we are now. I couldn't have ever imagined this whole business would come out of something I have always done. I only have the good Lord and my amazing customers to thank for it, so thank YOU for making a dream I never knew I had, come true!