Switching to a healthy lifestyle

Switching to a healthy lifestyle

The Meal Prep Company going strong — and in good health

By Darian Gillette

Matt Keeney in front of The Meal Prep Company store and van.

Robert Henry, Matt Keeney, and Fransisco Alferez preparing meals.

Beast Bowls from Keeney’s Kitchen.

Acai bowls from Keeney’s Kitchen.

Matt Keeney and Fransisco Alferez from Keeney’s Kitchen.

LUCASVILLE — Owner Matt Keeney opened Keeney’s Kitchen — “The Meal Prep Company” — store in July 2021.

“I was born and raised in Lucasville and, from a young age, I had a love for sports and exercise, but I was never the best in school,” said Keeney. “I went to college for education and in 2009, I landed a job at the A-Plant and thought I made it.”

Keeney worked at the “A-Plant” — the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant at Piketon, Ohio — for 10 years.

“It wasn’t until about 2017 that I identified that if I was still at the A-Plant at 55 years old that I would just miss the boat,” said Keeney. “I never got excited about work. I was just clocking in and out and just becoming miserable, really.”

Keeney said he decided to begin working out instead of living for football games and drinking.

“I began to go to bed early, wake up early, and invest in health and fitness consistently,” said Keeney. “That led to me being able to open up my own fitness facility in Lucasville in 2018 and I walked away from the A-Plant to pursue my personal endeavors.”

COVID-19 caused Keeney’s gym to shut down, and he began to think outside the box.

“At the end of the day, food is medicine,” said Keeney. “I started studying restaurants and the meal prep business, so we are the first in Southern Ohio. There is no other place like this here.”

Keeney said they began by subleasing a kitchen in Lucasville in November 2020.

“Week one was 100 meals a week, week two was 200 meals a week, week 3 was 400 meals a week, and week 4 was 800 meals a week, as I began to promote health through our social media,” said Keeney.

Keeney said he wanted to have a healthy meal option in Scioto County.

“Usually it’s a 30- to 40-minute process if you want a grilled chicken salad from Bob Evans, for example. But here you can walk in and grab healthy options that include shrimp, steak, wraps, oats, to anything, and it’s a two-minute experience,” said Keeney. “Once I realized this would be successful, we began looking for commercial buildings in May of 2021.”

The Meal Prep Company currently has 20 employees.

“I am so thankful we have the chance to employ local money right into Lucasville,” said Keeney. “Each week, our sales are going up and we’re making collaborations with other communities.”

The Meal Prep Company has a location in Waverly and recently signed for a location in Jackson.

“I have a vision it will be The Meal Prep Company Chillicothe, The Meal Prep Company Jackson, The Meal Prep Company Waverly, The Meal Prep Company Ashland, but this will be our major catering kitchen because we have the opportunity to cook 1,000 to 20,000 meals a week,” said Keeney.

The meals would be sent into each town and will continue to deliver to Scioto County.

“I correlate this to Blue Apron or Hello Fresh; people subscribe to these meal prep companies where you have to cook it, but we already cooked it for you, we seal it and deliver it to you. All you do is reheat the product,” said Keeney.

Keeney said the community has been a driving force.

“I see so many people who want to be healthy, but diets are confusing, labels are confusing, walking through grocery stores is confusing, and we want to take that confusion out of the picture,” said Keeney. “Not everyone is a weight-loss candidate. Some are malnourished; a couple of our clients need to eat three to four meals a day just so they can get the nutrients their bodies need.”

Keeney said it is easy to work 70- to 80-hour work weeks.

“I truly cannot describe the love and passion I have for this when I see our customers walk through the door and say they are not on their diabetes medication, or they’re down 22 pounds,” said Keeney. “We can go through life kind of foggy and going through the motions. People don’t realize how good they are supposed to feel until you take the challenge of eating fresh food.”

Keeney said he wants to inspire others to fulfill their lives.

“I graduated 55th out of 75 students because I wasn’t a good student. I want to teach my kids, my peers, and people locally that if I can do this, you can too,” said Keeney. “I so often see people go through life miserable and God didn’t design us to be miserable, God designed us to fulfill an abundant, happy, joyful, peaceful life, and I love it.”

Keeney said his goal is to be able to have his wife walk away from her job to go through this journey together.

“My wife is a high school health teacher who is happy with her job, but I want my wife to have the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom and raise our children so the more successful I can get this business to be, it allows that opportunity my family never had growing up,” said Keeney.

”I am about to turn 40 and I feel like I am just hitting my prime. I am proud to be from Lucasville and have the confidence to do something like this because, ten years ago, I didn’t have the confidence, and now no one is stopping this business besides myself.”

Recipe for Beast Bowls

4 oz. house rice

6 oz. 90/10 lean beef

4 oz. baked sweet potato fries

a drizzle of Korean sauce

Salt Magazine