Brian Likins says two of his love languages are service and food. Recently, he found a way to combine them to serve the Opelika-Auburn community.
Brian and Melody Likins officially opened Proper Prep Services five weeks ago, but their meal prep journey began years earlier.
Brian, Opelika born and raised, always had a passion for sports, fitness and all things healthy.
But three years ago, he had ballooned to 240 pounds.
“My hips hurt, my back hurt and my knees hurt. I was sick constantly,” he said. “One day, I decided enough was enough.”
Likin and his friend David Knapp decided to start a workout and meal prepping plan. Likins only ate chicken, rice and green beans with an occasional bun-less burger for an entire year.
After about eight or nine months, he had dropped to 178 pounds. Melody decided to take a picture of Likin walking on the beach with his son.
Likin decided to post this picture with another at the beginning of his journey. Little did he know that a whole new world was about to open up for him.
“That’s when friends, family and church members just started calling me constantly,” he said.
As he entered year two, he wanted to expand his meals beyond chicken and green beans.
“I was like, ‘You know, I’m sick of eating the same thing. Let’s break this up and start making it a little more fun,” Brian said. “I started doing research on what I needed to cook and how to cook it up to keep it healthy. It just grew from there.”
Now, he officially runs Proper Prep Services and spends his entire day in a kitchen. They don’t have an official storefront yet, but the Likins and a few staff members whip up their meals in a space at 1300 McCoy Street right behind the Boneyard Skateshop.
Before, the husband-and-wife team prepared meals in their home kitchen for friends and family members.
“Just a couple of months ago, we were in the kitchen prepping,” Brian said. “Just the two of us, me and my wife. We had containers all over the bar, all over the counter and all over the kitchen table. It overflowed into our living room on the coffee table.
“Melody finally turned around and went, ‘You need to get out of my kitchen. This is too big!’”
Folks were coming to the Likins household at all times of the day to pick up the pre-made meals.
“People would come constantly to pick up food late in the night,” Brian said with a laugh. “The landlord thought we were up to no good.”
He said explaining meal prepping to his 80-year-old landlord was one of the most interesting experiences on this journey.
Right now, Proper Prep is only accepting 30 clients and currently has a waitlist. In November, the couple hopes to drop the waitlist and accept all orders.
Likins wanted there to be a plan for everyone. There are different types of meal plans that contain two meals per day.
The first plan is weight loss featuring two meals a day for five days a week for $90, six days for $100 and a full week for $105. This includes 6 to 8 ounces of protein, a half cup of carbs and a half cup of vegetables.
Second, there’s a weight gain/muscle mass plan featuring two meals a day for $100, six days for $110 and a full week for $115. This includes 6 to 8 ounces of protein, a cup of carbs and a cup of vegetables.
Lastly, there’s the maintenance plan featuring two meals a day for five days a week for $95, six days for $105 and a full week for $110. This includes 6 to 8 ounces of protein, a half cup of carbs and a quarter cup of vegetables.
Family meals are also an option, with prices ranging from $25 to $35.
There is also a “just lunch” option which includes five meals a week.
For special diets and allergies, custom plans are available, and prices vary depending on the preferences.
If someone wants to try out a meal, the Likins provide a single meal for $10.
All orders are made on Proper Prep Services’ Facebook page, website or email.
Brian explained that making food has always been his specialty.
“It’s a known fact at this point that I’m coming to your house, I’m bringing ingredients and I’m coming to cook,” he said with a laugh.
Plans are picked up weekly around lunch or dinner time on Mondays. The chaos begins every morning on meal-prep Monday.
“I’m typically in the kitchen at 4:30 in the morning on Monday, and then my staff starts getting there between 5:00 and 5:30,” Brian said. “When I get there in the morning, I pray with the staff before we get started. I pray before the staff even gets there.
“We’re in the kitchen for 10 or 12 hours sometimes. We went from 70 meals our first week to knocking on the door of 400.”
Every meal is made with fresh ingredients, and Brian said that’s the only way he’s doing it.
“When I’m getting ingredients, we’re not ordering off food trucks or anything. … I’m going to one of the two Opelika farmers markets and getting vegetables from there,” he said.
He wants to use his meals to help the local community.
Recently, he gave 15 meals to Harvest Evangelism nonprofits His Place and Hosanna Home. Brian and Melody also brought meals to East Alabama Medical Center’s Cardiovascular ICU staff. Free delivery is also offered to EAMC workers right now.
“We want to be able to serve our community,” he said. “Like I said, this is my hometown, and I take pride in my hometown.”
For the future, the Likins are already envisioning their first official shop with a seating area.
“I want to find a spot that’s nestled right in between Opelika and Auburn,” Brian said. “We could have a storefront for people to come in, kind of like a fast food place. You come in, you grab the meal that you want, pop it into the microwave there and then you can hop right back on the road and keep going.”
There is a strong possibility Proper Prep Service’s first storefront will open next year.
“We are just completely grateful for our community and overwhelmed by the support everybody’s shown,” he said.