Richard McCracken was a wrestler for 20 years. He began at the age of 5 in the Iowa Kids Club and continued through Central Missouri State University.
"Pretty much sports all the time," he says. "Baseball and wrestling." His diet was also pretty consistent then: pizza and pasta.
McCracken, 43, no longer wrestles, and his diet has changed. He and his wife, Molly, are owners of Amplified Meal Prep.
- Michael Donahue
- Richard and Molly McCracken
"Customers can order healthy comfort food or build custom meals according to their specific diet plan," Molly says.
They can pick up the meals at Other Foods Kitchen at 1249 Heistan Place off Bellevue near Lamar, or meals can be delivered to their home.
"People have a need for it," Richard says. "Especially with such a great and diverse food city that Memphis is. People sometimes forget about eating healthy. Suddenly, they're up 15 pounds. And they go, 'Oh, I've got to do something about this.'
"The good thing is our food tastes amazing," he continues. "It's like healthy comfort food."
Richard got serious about food when he was at Central Missouri State, where he majored in hotel and restaurant management.
His minor was in experimental foods, "[learning things like] if you're cooking with butter, take butter out and add avocado. Take something unhealthy out and put something healthy in and see if it works."
Richard pursued his major after he graduated. "I did a little bit of restaurant management, but I just didn't love it," he says. He then pursued his minor. About seven years ago, he opened Ultimate Foods, which was a similar concept to Amplified Meal Prep, but customers could pick up the food at four locations. Richard eventually sold his portion of the restaurants.
He met Molly at a gym. "We used to work in a gym together eight years ago," he says. "But we reconnected at a Grizzlies game five years ago."
Molly's major was exercise science at Morehead State University.
After Ultimate Foods, Richard worked other jobs, including Aramark food service, where he was location manager.
He and Molly then went to work preparing healthy meals for entrepreneurs Jeremy and Matthew Thacker-Rhodes. "Cooking for them at their house ... and for their friends." They were doing "probably 100 meals a week at their kitchen."
About two years ago, Richard and Molly opened Amplified Meal Prep at Other Foods Kitchen, a shared commercial kitchen. They now do 1,500 meals a week for 150 customers.
Amplified offers two food packages. One is a "custom meal-builder, where you can customize all the food you get," Richard says.
Customization options feature "12 proteins, 12 carbs, 12 veggies. And you can mix and match them."
The protein choices include taco beef, mango habanero chicken, eggs, flank steak, salmon, turkey meatloaf, and more. For carbs, there's basmati rice, couscous, mashed potatoes, orzo, quinoa, and other options. The vegetables include a cast of characters from asparagus to broccoli, Brussels sprouts to glazed carrots.
"When Richard left Ultimate Foods and we took a couple of years and decided to get back in the food thing, he felt it was important to offer this custom portion, which a lot of local places weren't offering," Molly says. "Which allowed people to eat according to their plan.
"I'm a professional bodybuilder," she adds. "My coach gives me a diet plan. I can get on Amplified Meal Prep and eat according to my specific macro needs. My coach will tell me exactly how much of each to have."
The Amplified Meal Prep menu changes weekly and can be found at eatamplified.com. All meals, which average $8.50 each, must be ordered by 4 p.m. on Thursdays. "We deliver or you can pick up from noon to 3 p.m. on Sundays."