Initially, Antonites cooked all of the meals out of his home. Now, with 1,000 meals prepared weekly, he has been operating since December out of a commercial kitchen on Irvin Cobb Drive.

With a full-time job as a canine officer, Antonites uses his two "days off" a week, Sunday and Monday, to operate the business. His wife, Rachel, a nurse at Baptist Health, helps with the growing operation, and he has just hired two employees.

"I've got a wide variety of customers," Antonites said. "I've got people who buy the meals just for convenience of having a meal ready. I've got bodybuilders that I do a more specific, bulk meat meal for. And then I'll have your regular fitness people who are looking for a healthier alternative to fast food."

The meals are centered around no sugar and no refined carbs, according to Antonites. The basic components include 6 ounces of lean protein, 4 ounces of (complex) carbs, and 3 ounces of green vegetables.

"Right now I have five meals that stay the same each week," Antonites said. "With the volume I'm doing, custom stuff right now kind of throws a wrench into the assembly line. But, I do one meal a week that's like a special that's a little more time-consuming, like I'll do a smoked turkey meatloaf or a fajita minus the tortilla, that kind of thing."

Customers email their orders by 5 p.m. Thursday, and pick them up Monday evening. Sunday is prep day and Monday is cook day.
"They can store them in their refrigerator or freezer, depending on how quick they plan to eat them," Antonites said. "They can either throw it in the microwave or heat it in the oven."

Antonites buys as much as he can locally for the business, like the meat he purchases from Hughes Market. "This week, I bought about 320 pounds of chicken breast and around 150 pounds of steak," Antonites said. "I cook the chicken in smokers. They burn wood and create smoke and heat," he said. "I do it at a high temperature, so it's not like I'm smoking the chicken, but it still adds a smoked flavor, and everybody seems to love it."

Antonites estimates his customers are pretty evenly divided among men and women. Many are already health-conscious and work out at local gyms like the CrossFit Dig Deep on James-Sanders Boulevard, which stocks about 200 of his meals in a commercial cooler each week. He also has several local body-builders who go through him for their meals.

Of his own fitness regimen, "I used to lift, then I got into CrossFit," Antonites said. "Now, I don't do anything, because I've got a newborn (daughter Ava), a business ... and a full-time job."

Antonites admits his family was a little skeptical at first about his idea for a business venture, "just cooking meals for people," but they have come around. "It's definitely taken off," he said. "They're seeing it now. Every time I see my parents, and my in-laws, they ask, 'How many meals you cooking this week?'"

In case you're wondering about that "Biggest Loser" competition that started everything, even though he lost 30 pounds in three months, Antonites didn't come in first. But that doesn't mean he didn't come away a winner. "No, actually I came in second," he said. "The guy that won ... I made all his meals for him."

Article from The Paducah Sun, March 26, 2016
'Biggest Loser' contest yields a business winner
BY DAVID ZOELLER, dzoeller@paducahsun.com

By his own admission, Nathan Antonites is pretty well-known for his ability to gain - and lose - weight very fast.

A little over a year ago, Antonites, along with some of his co-workers with the Paducah Police Department, decided to have their own "Biggest Loser" competition, patterned after the popular TV show.

While the city had its own version, "We were just doing our own kind of thing, specifically the SWAT team, thinking we all needed to lose some weight," Antonites said.

As they considered proper meal plans, Antonites, who was a cook in the Army Reserves, volunteered to make healthy meals for some of the other participants at the same time he prepared his own.

"That worked out well and led to other people coming to me and saying, 'Hey, can I get in on this?'" he said. Before he knew it, "this" had grown to preparing 200 meals a week.

"People I didn't even know were contacting me," Antonites said. "That's when I thought, this could be something here ... it could be a legitimate business."

And, with that, Paducah Meal Prep Co. was born.