For Collin County residents struggling to maintain their New Year’s resolutions for a healthier 2014, a Texas-based health food company may make it easier to stick to their goals.

Simply Fit Meals, which offers pre-prepared, all-natural, portion-controlled meals, is opening its fourth Metroplex location in Allen. The grand opening is from 7-10 p.m. Saturday at 977 Sam Rayburn Tollway, Suite 120.

The event is open to the public and will feature nutritious food and juice samples and live music.

“Our loyal customer base has allowed Simply Fit Meals to grow and reach new communities,” said co-founder Chris Sanchez in a release. “Nutritious foods are our passion and it’s a pleasure to see the healthy eating movement gain momentum across Texas. Simply Fit Meals is proud to bring a new, healthy option to Allen residents with the opening of our fourth location.”

Co-founded by Sanchez and college friend Patrick Ortiz in 2009, Simply Fit Meals was inspired by the need for good food and quick fuel.

“Patrick and I are both very passionate about food and fitness,” Sanchez said. “We had both been involved in one way or another in the food industry, so we met and tossed the idea around and just ran with it.”

The first store opened in Austin in 2010, and within the first year the entrepreneurs had the opportunity to open a store in Plano, as well.

“We had both locations and were just running ourselves ragged traveling back and forth, so we made a very tough decision in regard to which city was doing better and had the most success,” Sanchez said. “We made that tough call and shut down shop in Austin, which ended up being a very smart business decision and brought us closer together and allowed us to focus and fine-tune our operation.”

Sanchez said the most difficult part of being a small business owner is the realization that you must always continue to grow and develop.

“Once you get past the honeymoon stage of your idea, the hardest part is seeing every aspect of it and visualizing different areas that could be difficult down the road,” he said. “When we open a new store now, it’s so much work, but it’s so worth it for that one moment at the grand opening where you just kind of take a step back and see the smiles on people’s faces and the finished product.”

The company plans to open six more stores by 2015, and ultimately wants to expand nationwide, like one of its competitors, Texas-based My Fit Foods.

“Health food isn’t just something that America needs, it’s something the world needs,” Sanchez said. “I definitely see us able to expand globally at some point. Getting outside of Texas is our next goal. Right now we’re just making sure that our foundation and brand is very solid and enjoying everything day by day.”

Sadie McGowan, a Plano-based personal trainer, said she’s an advocate of both Simply Fit Meals and My Fit Foods as healthy options for her busy clients.

“I have personally had the opportunity to eat at both of these food chains,” she said. “From my personal experience they are great, fresh options for anyone looking for healthy, portion-controlled food. I have actually recommended multiple clients to purchase food to use as lunches at work. Many people grab quick snacks, boxed dinners or eat out of vending machines while at work. I feel that these locations provide excellent alternatives to the typical unhealthy eating patterns.”

My Fit Foods, which recently moved its headquarters from Houston to Austin, has expanded outside the state to California, Oklahoma, Arizona and Illinois.

While both companies provide similar products, Sanchez said the difference comes down to the values he and Ortiz hold onto.

“Our commitment to our standards, which are the quality of our food, the flavor of our food and the customer experience – those are things we never cut back on,” he said. “The commitment of our consistency regardless of how we grow translates into an overall better experience.”

Simply Fit Meals features a rotating menu, adding four to six menu options each month. The store offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and snack options. Seasonings and sauces are created in-house, and almost all meals are gluten free. The average meal price is $7-8.

“Customers come in thinking it’s expensive,” Sanchez said. “Most people will spend more than that at a fast food place. You should value your time. You could come in one day and pick up meals for a whole week in less than two minutes. … Imagine the amount of time you’re saving if you’re used to frequenting fast food places, going to the grocery store, cooking and cleaning dishes.”

McGowan agreed, and said these places help teach people portion control, which is a big issue for many people.

“Society is very fast-paced and everyone is looking for food on the run, especially in the city,” she said. “It is very difficult to prepare healthy food consistently throughout the week. These locations offer healthy options so that people can stay on track on a daily basis. I think these services are really necessary and can work for many busy Americans.”

In addition to the new location, Simply Fit Meals also has stores in Plano, Dallas and Fort Worth.

For information on the grand opening, visit simplyfitmeals.com/allenparty.

For continued coverage of local news and events, follow Brittany Feagans on Twitter.

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