The idea to start a gluten-free, dairy-free prepared meal delivery business came to West Hartford mom Jill Spunberg “out of nowhere” late one night in December of 2019.
“My husband said, ‘Are you crazy?’” Spunberg said.
Apparently not. The business, Healthy is the Way, is going strong today with about 70 weekly subscriptions. In 2021 she delivered about 400 meals per week.
Her husband, Eric Spunberg, once the naysayer, now helps deliver the fresh meals early two days a week before his day job as an insurance actuary begins.
“I wanted to help people struggling with diet sensitivities,” she said. “I love that I’m able to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s not just a business to me.”
Spunberg modified her diet to be free of gluten and dairy in 2016 after developing eczema along with her infant son after giving birth. She also had a hard time losing weight, Spunberg said.
The new diet took care of it all. She also felt less bloated and tired. Although careful with her diet, she doesn’t enjoy cooking and purchased prepared gluten- and dairy-free meals at a grocer until they stopped the offering.
Spunberg started the business in July 2020 when food delivery services took off during the COVID-19 pandemic. Spunberg hired a chef to devise recipes and do the cooking. She rented commercial kitchen space at Hands on Hartford, where she oversees the kitchen and helps prep, package, and creates the menu of fresh food items.
Now, Spunberg uses chefs on a rotating schedule.
“I really don’t like to cook. Isn’t that funny?” Spunberg said.
The business delivers fresh meals all over Connecticut and parts of Western Massachusetts.
Brenda Holian of West Hartford, a nutritionist who sometimes recommends the service to clients, said she started using Healthy is the Way about a year ago when the family’s sports schedule got busy.
“It’s delicious. It’s convenient. It’s healthy. I love it,” Holian said. “When you finish the meal, you don’t feel like it’s too heavy, but you feel satisfied.”
Allison Taylor of Canton said she recently took a more intensive job and, with two young children, “It’s difficult to prepare food, let alone healthy food.” She found herself spending all of Sunday preparing food for the week, and the other food prep services she tried required work and time.
“It just seemed like a home run,” Taylor said. “It’s so much food. It’s healthy food.”
Taylor said with what the cost of a grocery delivery would be, the service is worth the money. She orders three family-sized meals a week at about $150 with delivery charges, and there are leftovers for lunches.
Taylor said the salmon is the best she’s tasted and loves that, at 6 years old, her daughter loves “the pink chicken” — referring to the salmon.
Customer Erica Manchester of Rocky Hill said she follows a gluten-free diet because of allergies and has three meals a week delivered to use as lunches.
“It saves me time because I don’t have to meal prep, and I can enjoy a variety of delicious and tasty food at a reasonable price,” Manchester said.
Spunberg does the shopping, selecting the freshest ingredients. She said she uses locally sourced fruits and vegetables, as well as organic, when possible.
“I’m getting good at knowing what I want on the menu,” she said of rotating the offerings in single, double and family sizes.
One of the most popular fresh meals is pan-seared salmon or chicken with roasted vegetables and sweet potatoes. Beef teriyaki and broccoli is another big seller, along with salads where customers pick their protein. Then there are the popular cranberry walnut mini-muffins. All dressings and sauces are made from scratch in-house, Spunberg said.
She said some customers don’t have diet allergies or sensitivities, but just order to be healthy.
She said she is actually doing a little less business than she was during the pandemic, but that’s OK because, with two young children, “It gives me a life balance,” she said.
Spunberg, who eats her own company food, said she feels “great” since changing her diet in 2016.
“I don’t feel bloated anymore. I have more energy. My body feels strong,” she said. Many of the symptoms of her polycystic ovary syndrome disappeared, too.
“I’ve had customers say they feel so much better,” she said. “This really is something I’m passionate about. I’m so passionate about it, it’s really not like a job to me.”
Orders can be placed through Spunberg’s website at https://healthyistheway.com/ or by calling 860-325-2516.