Santa Barbara Meal Prep started out as a favor for friends. Overstretched working moms would ask Adriana Garcia to help them plan and cook for the coming week, and Garcia ― always passionate about food and equally generous with her time ― was happy to oblige. She only charged for the groceries and used her own Tupperware.
Slowly but surely, as word got out about Garcia’s cooking skills and her list of recipients began to grow, the favors turned into a full-blown meal prep and delivery business that launched in 2017. Santa Barbara Meal Prep is now a second job for Garcia, who works as the human resources manager for the Hotel Californian.
Via her website, santabarbaramealprep.com, Garcia takes orders throughout the week. She spends all day Saturday in Goleta’s Food for My Soul commercial kitchen cooking alongside her chef, prep cook, dishwasher, and assistant, and then she makes deliveries on Sunday. The menu changes every week but always features fresh, healthy options that vary by season, what’s hip in the foodie world, and what Garcia herself likes to eat.
The week of September 9, for example, featured breakfasts of egg and potato hash, and “Just Peachy” overnight oats. The lunch/dinner offerings that came on Sunday were roasted chicken, brown rice, and veggies; a Mexican turkey and cauliflower rice bowl; a loaded spinach-and-egg salad; and a couple of others.
Garcia said she often likes to include a fish option and some kind of pasta. Customers can create their own meal plan that may be high-protein, low-carb, dairy-free, or gluten-free. She gets her produce from the farmers’ market, fruit from The Berry Man, and meat from Jordano’s, and she will occasionally shop at Costco for bulk items.
Garcia, who graduated from the Women’s Economic Ventures business training program, said she never used to consider herself an entrepreneur. “I didn’t want to do clothes, perfume, or anything like that,” she said, “because those are the first things people cut from their budget. But everyone has to eat.” Santa Barbara Meal Prep’s subscription prices range from $59 per week for five lunch/dinner meals up to $145 per week for 15 breakfast and lunch/dinner meals.
My own experience with Meal Prep couldn’t have gone better. The delivery arrived exactly on time and set me up for a busy work week where eating ― much less healthy eating ― would have been a low priority. A quick minute or two in the microwave, and I was eating home-cooked-tasting meals of tilapia, spaghetti, chicken fajitas, and blueberry waffles. The packages felt a little like the refrigerated meal options offered at a high-end grocery store like Lazy Acres or Whole Foods, but these came straight to my door and cost a lot less.
“Save time, save money, eat healthy,” said Garcia. “That’s the idea.”
Try it out today by visiting santabarbaramealprep.com.