During the pandemic, many had to find creative or alternative ways to put food on the table. For Sara Ramthun, she found not only a way to put food on her table but on the table of many others as well.
Ramthun, a 2008 graduate of Boulder City High School, took a difficult situation and turned it into a thriving business in around 18 months. The result – Real Prep Meal Prep.
The idea of meal prepping – making meals in advance to eat throughout the week – began for her about seven years ago as she sought to lose weight while getting into fitness competitions and triathlons. Along the way she lost 50 pounds and would become a personal trainer at Snap Fitness, where she’d pass her knowledge of meal prepping on to her clients.
Then COVID-19 hit and just about everything, including gyms, closed.
“When I couldn’t train my clients, I didn’t want them to take a step backwards and put on all the weight we had worked so hard together to take off,” she said.
She began prepping meals for her clients out of her home, in addition to those she made for herself. In fact, she would prep 90 meals for herself in one sitting and freeze most to eat throughout the month.
“It was around then that it dawned on me that I could sell prepared meals to others outside of my own clientele,” the 33-year-old said. “I sold out every week. By the three-month mark I saved enough money to make everything legal (business license and health permits) and turned this into a business.”
Because her business has taken off, Ramthun has not had the time to go back to personal training. But that’s not to say she’s not helping her clients in another way.
“In looking back, my clients always needed the most help when it came to food,” she said. “The food was always the struggle. It was always what prevented them from meeting their goals. I’m finding that I’m much more valuable for them being in the kitchen than in the gym.”
Today, she and her small staff prep an average of 300 meals a week out of a shared industrial kitchen in North Las Vegas. Her goal is to double that in the next year.
“That was a big day for me,” she said, after hitting 300 weekly meals.
And no, the meals they prepare are not the same every single day. Customers can request a variety of healthy foods conveniently packed into a single container. This allows them to have something like beef, broccoli and yams one day and chicken, rice and cauliflower the next. And while clients can customize their orders, by far her most popular is the “Mix it Up and Surprise Me” option in which she picks their meals for them.
“The most common comment I get from the general public is that they are surprised that eating healthy can taste this good,” she said. “Sometimes they’re almost scared to try our food because they just assume it’s going to taste bad.”
Through macro balancing, she’s able to provide the right amount of protein and carbs for a healthy diet and offers 35 “flavors” in terms of protein, carbs and vegetables. They also offer three different portion sizes.
“For me it’s emotional,” she said of what she enjoys most. “Having my customers write me and tell me they’re down five pounds and now their goal is 10 pounds. My company does not include flour, dairy, sugar or gluten, which are usually the first things doctors will tell someone to eliminate from their diet. Sometimes those are my most loyal customers because they can’t eat anywhere else.”
Ramthun said most customers order for the week, with those meals being available for free pickup in Boulder City at Snap Fitness. Of her 222 clients, about 60% of the orders come from here in town.
“The community in Boulder City played a huge part in me being able to survive during the pandemic, which has allowed me to grow my company,” she said. “I feel very proud of this. I often wonder if this is really happening and if it’s real. I believe in my product because I myself am an athlete and I’ve seen this big transformation. We can all be our own worst enemy and to help anyone save themselves from themselves is my chosen purpose here on earth. It’s what heals me and brings me value and worth.”
For more information on plans and prices, visit realprepmealprep.net.
Ron Eland is editor of the Boulder City Review. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9523.