Busy schedules can make it difficult for families to gather around the table to enjoy a home-cooked meal. But Jamie Eanes, owner of Meals 4 Home, is making it easier. Being in the food industry for 20 years as a Vice President and General Manager of Japanese Company, Ariake, he was constantly met with dilemma of working or being home in time to enjoy dinner around the table with his family. By the time he got home, there was no time left for a home-cooked meal. Fast food was traditionally the option his family resorted to. But, he wanted a better alternative. This dilemma led him to do research; research that affirmed him that he was not alone in this struggle.
One year ago, Eanes followed through with his goal of bridging the familial traditions of the past with the realities of modern life for others by starting Meals 4 Home. He and his wife prepare food, similar to the home-cooked meals one would normally want to make, using incredible technology. Eanes takes advantage of blast chilling, which ensures quality not only from a food safety perspective, but also from a flavor perspective. In addition, they vacuum seal the dishes as well, which helps to seal in juices and preserves flavors.
The process of ordering food from Meals 4 Home is a little different than what the average consumer is used to. The menu is posted two weeks in advance. Customers must order by Thursday of the week prior to picking up the meal. The following Tuesday and Thursday, it will be available for pick up. There are typically two meals to choose from on Tuesday, and another two on Thursday.
The meals consist of an entree and two sides. Meals range from soups and pastas to Artichoke Chicken and Salmon Cakes. Some sides they prepare are snow peas, scalloped potatoes, and salads. Occasionally, they offer homemade desserts as well. Minimizing waste is very important to Eanes. "That's one reason why we have our customers order in advance," he says."We know exactly what we are going to make, how we are going to make it, and what ingredients we need." After being in the food industry for 20 years, Eanes is proud of his business being "above the curve" in that way — efficiently using all of his resources.
While Meals 4 Home is only open two days during the week, Eanes laughed when he told me how deceiving those hours are. "I'm generally working 6 days a week. It's not unusual for me to come in 6am and not leave until 6-9pm in the evening. There's a tremendous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes."
What drives him as a business owner? The customers. "It is shocking how many people we are providing a real solution for. There are people that are so appreciative of what we do. That's what we wanted from the beginning." His customers are able to eat at home and have more time to do things that they want to do.
When I asked him about his favorite part of owning the business, he let out a humble laugh followed by a sigh. "It allows me to stay close to my kids." It is no surprise that Eanes values family and the unity a meal can bring.
A little over a year ago, Meals 4 Homes was just an idea. This year, we are able to celebrate the impact it has had on the Harrisonburg community and the need it has met for so many individuals struggling to make time for a home-cooked meal.
Written by Faith Ripa. Faith is a 3rd year senior studying Media Arts and Design at James Madison University. She is currently the Promotions Intern at HDR. When she's not at school, work, or her internship, Faith enjoys hand lettering, taking pictures for her small portrait photography business, and watching HGTV. Her plan is to get a job in Harrisonburg after graduation and continue to pour into downtown by supporting and promoting the local businesses while offering her hand lettering skills to those that may benefit from it.