Busy Tampa families use local services to get home-cooked meals

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — Busy families are finding affordable ways to gather around the table and eat healthy meals without having to cook.

Cantinas are fast becoming a hot trend in Tampa Bay. One person who cooks in bulk for an entire neighborhood or community and delivers the home-cooked meals right to a busy family’s front door.

“I’m so busy, I run a business, I have three kids. Two are babies. It’s a zoo and I don’t know what I would do without it to be honest,” said busy mom Emily Ley. She uses a service called Clean Plate Cooking. Busy families can order soups, salads and meals throughout the workweek.

“Everything is broiled fresh and made daily.” said founder Evelyn Rodriguez.

From light fares, to family-style meals, Rodriguez packs up home-cooked meals daily and they are distributed to some 50 families a week in Tampa’s Westchase area.

Rodriguez started off cooking for a few friends and when word got out it turned into a full-blown business. “It keeps the tradition of coming around the table, and the idea of ‘it takes a village’ alive. We all come together as women and we raise our kids together and we help each other in the car line and we help each other at dinner and that’s what it takes,” said Rodriguez, who is a mother of four.

Another food trend in Tampa Bay is Fresco Foods. The meals are made daily in Oldsmar and vacuumed fresh for a 15-day shelf life. They are available in more than a dozen stores across Tampa Bay from major grocery chains like Winn Dixie to boutique stores like Nutrition Smart Natural Organic Grocery and Vitamins.

“They are hormone free, antibiotic free, no preservative. All of the meals are made with the finest ingredients,” said founder Rob Povolny.

Povolny believes pallets are changing and families have a taste for something new. “They don’t want the frozen dinner, the fast food, the pizza night,” he said.

Eat Fresco is poised to expand statewide, and many parents believe it’s because busy families still want to come around the table and eat healthy foods, so this is filling a void.

“It’s done in two minutes. I’m too busy to make a meal,” said busy mom Christine Clements.

Fresco Foods average $8.00 a meal, but if you stock up on customer appreciation day at Nutrition Smart, you can buy them at 20% off.

Clean Plate Cooking averages about $100.00 a week and the meals are designed to feed a family of three or four people.

Find out more about Clean Plate Cooking here.

Find out more about Fresco Foods here.

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