Home > Jersey Fresh > FITfood: Convenience and So Much More

Disclosure: This product was provided to Jersey Bites for free. As always, all views and opinions are the writer’s own.

When professionally trained chef Jason Russo started a side gig to help out a friend with a personal training studio, he didn’t expect it to be a life-changing move. But in July 2014, he left his job as an executive chef in Toms River to pursue FITfood, his prepared-meals delivery service full time.

Chef Jay

Chef Jason Russo tending to his homegrown produce outside FITFood in Sea Girt.

I first heard about FITfood through my chiropractor’s office in Long Branch. Russo, who goes by Jay, had catered a lunch there and everyone was raving about the food. I reached out to him because I thought it was a great idea and was thrilled to find out his home base is just about two miles from me. With menu items like quinoa meatloaf, jerk spiced chicken, and vegetable frittata, I just had to sample FITFood.

Weeks deliveryJay personally dropped off my first delivery and we chatted for quite a while about FITfood and his passion for eating clean and sourcing locally. (When I say passion, I am putting it mildly.) Chef Russo is on a mission and his energy and enthusiasm are contagious.
Here’s a brief peek into our conversation about the philosophy behind FITfood and what you can expect from this innovative service.
JERSEY BITES: What is the philosophy behind FITfood?
CHEF RUSSO: On the surface, it’s delivering ready-to-heat-and-eat meals to individuals who are time starved or simply don’t feel like shopping, prepping, cooking, and cleaning all of their own meals. But beyond that we’re trying to change the way people look at delivered meals.
Who is your typical customer?
Our customer base ranges from fitness junkies, to busy moms, to personal trainers, and more. Basically anyone trying to make a conscious effort to put good, clean food in their bodies. My favorite customers are the kids that some parents buy our food for. It’s incredibly easy for children to develop terrible eating habits at an early age, so when I hear a 7 year old loves my turkey-quinoa meatloaf and roasted Brussels sprouts, it excites me.
fresh lettuce in garden
Where do you source your food?
In a nutshell, we try and source everything from responsible, sustainable places that are as local as possible. We work with a company that provides us access to 120 local farms in this area, and the difference is in the product. For example, an organic apple is nice, but one that was picked 48 hours ago and traveled 40 miles to get to you simply tastes better than the organic apple picked 2 weeks ago that traveled 3,000 miles to get to you. I love knowing that our eggs come from a farm in Columbus, NJ, where the hens roam freely, or that my Jersey asparagus was picked just days ago. And whether they are conscious about it or not, I think it’s something our customers enjoy as well, simply because better ingredients lead to a better product.
What’s your favorite dish on the menu?
I’m partial to our General Tso’s Chicken. I grew up inhaling the stuff from typical Chinese restaurants, and set out to re-create it in a healthy way.
How do you do it?
I lightly pan fry marinated chicken breast in a touch of coconut oil, then dress it in a sauce consisting of homemade chicken stock, fresh garlic, ginger, chiles, lemongrass, and a touch of raw honey. The stock is the body of the sauce, the garlic, ginger, and lemongrass provide great flavor, the chiles give it a little heat, and the honey provides just a touch of sweetness. It results in an amazing dish without all the sugar, sodium, and preservatives you’d get from typical takeout.
How is FITfood different from other delivery services? 
We’re about so much more than creating a healthy meal based of a set of specific nutritional guidelines.  By eating FITfood you’re not just helping yourself; you’re helping the local farmers we work with. You’re helping the environment, because our farmers [engage in] organic, sustainable practices. Even the food containers we use are biodegradable and earth-friendly, made from renewable resources like sugar cane and plant fiber. We’ve turned over half our property at our kitchen into a garden where we often pick ingredients the same day we use them in our meals.  And we’re already looking at leasing a a plot of land to start our own FITfarm early next year.
What ingredients do you use on a regular basis and why?
Lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and an array of vegetables are the foundation for our meals.  But I try to not put ourselves in a box with regard to specific ingredients. Our weekly menu reflects the changes in the season.
2nd week's delivery
A well-balanced, delivered meal is convenient and a good start. But combine that with responsible farming practices, local and fresh ingredients, all by a trained chef, and then you’ve gotten back to our roots and what food really should be about.
If you are looking for ready-made meals that you can feel really good about putting into your body, give FITfood a try. As of the date of this post, the delivery routes include all of Ocean County and as far north as Lincroft in Monmouth County, but I am sure we’ll be seeing FITfood’s territory expanding in the very near future.