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Home Cooking, Without the Mess

More people over 55 ordering meals online — and two Rochester companies are happy to meet those requests

By Donna Jackel

Photos submitted by Rochester-based Effortlessly Healthy.

Prepared home-delivered meals have become a booming business. But it was during COVID-19 when sales really skyrocketed, as restaurants and other eateries were forced to shut down.

According to Grandview Research, a market-research firm based in San Francisco, the global meal delivery services market was valued “at $15.21 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow 17.4% from 2022 to 2030.”

One reason is that these homemade meals are less expensive than takeout food, according to the research company.

Shaina Sidoti of Rochester was ahead of the curve. She founded Effortlessly Healthy in 2013. Sidoti had taken a bit of a gamble. Without any cash reserves, she quit her job as an administrator in the department of surgery to start her food delivery business.

“People were telling me they didn’t have time to eat healthy,” she said.

The doors opened at a warehouse on Emerson Street. There were three employees, including Sidoti and her mother. After outgrowing several spaces, five years ago the business moved to 1440 Scottsville Road. Sidoti now has 30 employees and revenues of about $2.5 million. 2023 is projected to bring in $3 million.

Shaina Sidoti of Rochester founded Effortlessly Healthy in 2013. She had three employees at the time, including her and her mother. She now has 30 employees and revenues of about $2.5 million. 2023 is projected to bring in $3 million.

Effortlessly Healthy delivers fresh meals twice a week to Rochester homes. People can order between five and 21 meals at a time. Customers also have the option to pick up meals at the store.

“It’s a subscription service,” Sidoti said. “Everything is ordered in advance. The menu changes weekly so people don’t get bored.”

Meals can be catered to one’s dietary needs, such as low sodium, diabetic friendly and gluten free.

Some of the dishes offered are chicken parmesan, pizza egg bake, Asian stir fry, salads, wraps and vegetarian roasted butternut squash salad.

“It’s just good, healthy food that’s made fresh locally,” Sidoti said.

Out of hundreds of clients, she estimates about half are 55 and older.

In addition to the home deliveries, Effortlessly Healthy operates a food truck, serves as the preferred caterer for the University of Rochester Medical Center and, through Medicaid, provides meals at several senior living facilities.

One of the other home meal delivery businesses in Rochester is 95Nutrition. It was founded in Buffalo in 2015 by Lindsey and Carmelo Cruz. In January 2022, they expanded to Rochester and now have four locations in Victor, Greece, Henrietta and Rochester.

“I always had a passion for food and we didn’t have anything like this in Buffalo,” said Lindsey Cruz, adding that all the meals are made in house.

While many customers use 95Nutrition to lose weight, others like the convenience, she said. Customers have the choice of ordering small or large portions. The meals are made onsite and then frozen “to keep them fresh as long as possible.”

The business delivers meals from 12 locations and also ships nationwide, Cruz explained. She estimates that about 30% of her customers are 55 and older, while others are seeking a work-life balance.

“Now, more than ever, people want to spend time with their family, not in the kitchen,” she said. “And with grocery costs skyrocketing, you can save more than you think with prepared food, while still getting variety.”

Their meals include blueberry protein pancakes for breakfast, beef and broccoli and coconut shrimp.

But convenience is not the only benefit to having meals delivered to your home. The service also offers an opportunity for seniors to socialize with the delivery person and gives caregivers peace of mind knowing that their loved ones are regularly receiving healthy meals.

According to a 2022 study published in the National Library of Medicine, home-delivered meals “not only provide improved nutrition, but also offer regular social contact for older adults, which can increase feelings of safety experienced by meal recipients.”

And, in a 2019 National Survey of Older Americans Act participants, 85% of meal recipients reported feeling safer because of the delivery visits.