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10/31/2004

A winning recipe

By Tony Kindelspire
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — One of Colorado’s fastest-growing franchises has come to Longmont, and the only problem is, the owner has to explain to everybody what exactly his company does.

“That’s the hardest part,” said Deb Migdalski, owner of Supper Solutions, a do-it-yourself meal-preparation center. “They have no idea what we do; it’s just so new.”

Originally started last October by two women in Westminster who saw a market opportunity for people who want to eat right and save time, Supper Solutions is a concept that’s growing quickly.

The brief explanation is this: go to the company’s Web site — or visit its storefront — and choose 12 menu items from this month’s menu. Schedule an appointment and then, at your convenience, go in and make the meals yourself, following the company’s recipes. In containers provided by the company, leave with your meals either in an aluminum foil pan or in Ziploc freezer bags. Take the meals home and presto — a bunch of dinners already prepared.

The 12 meals will have six portions each. At $174 for 12 meals, that works out to about $2.40 a portion — cheaper than a Happy Meal, Migdalski points out.

“My husband and I both like to cook, and once in a while we like to pick a day where we can make some meals and freeze them,” said Jennifer Lucas, the mother of a 3-year-old and a 7-month-old. “But now that we have the two kids, it’s harder to find that time, so this is really convenient.”

Lucas is precisely the sort of person Supper Solutions is geared toward. As Migdalski puts it, “Going out to eat and fast food — while, yeah, it’s nice to do once in a while, we know it’s not healthy.”

And going out to eat frequently can add up in dollars, too.

The meals on Supper Solutions’ October menu include alpine meatloaf, chicken cordon bleu and citrus salmon.

The menu changes every month, with holiday-like fare planned for November and December.

Here’s how the system works: Clients prepare their various meals at work stations set up inside the store.

Each work station is set up to prepare one dish, with the recipe printed out right in front of the customer.

All the ingredients are ready to go, so all the customer does is follow the instructions and put the meal in a package ready to pop into the oven or freezer at home.

“There’s no chopping, there’s no shopping and, more importantly, no cleanup,” said Ken Migdalski, Debra’s husband.

Also, people can tweak the recipe to their own tastes. If, for instance, a recipe calls for mushrooms and the customer is allergic to them, he or she can simply leave out the mushrooms or substitute them with something else.

A Supper Solutions employee, such as general manager Ella Smith, is there to help if the customer has any questions or needs any help.

The idea is taking off. The Migdalski’s opened their first store here, but they have a territory that includes Boulder, Brighton, Arvada, Golden, Northglenn and Thornton.

They plan on opening a Broomfield location next month.

“We hope to have eight to 10 within the next six to nine months,” Ken Migdalski said.

The Louisville Supper Solutions, owned by a different family, was the first franchise.

Colorado has four stores open, with many more planned.

Beyond the operation’s convenience, the food’s quality is one of the reasons for the franchise’s early success.

The ingredients are all delivered by Sysco Corp., which handles deliveries to many of the major restaurants in the state.

That quality is important to people like Lucas.

“As far as that goes, it’s healthier than buying the box of frozen food and feeding that to your family,” said Lucas, who first heard about Supper Solutions when she was attending a Mothers of Pre-schoolers class in Denver.

This past week was her first time in, but Lucas said she’ll be back.

“I think so, because I can easily see how you can get hooked doing it,” she said. “Like I said, it took me a little over an hour to do it and here I have nine meals.”

That’s another thing about Supper Solutions, Migdalski said. If you don’t want a dozen meals, you can make anywhere from six on up, with the price adjusted accordingly.

Deb, with a background in software management, and Ken, with his background in finance, may seem like an unlikely pair to own a franchise like Supper Solutions, but now they are their own bosses, and they said the concept won them over instantly.

“The whole idea is to let people improve their quality of life and do things they want to do rather than being in the kitchen,” Debra said.

Tony Kindelspire can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 291, or by e-mail at
tkindelspire@times-call.com.