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Delivering Nutrition: Lifelong Foodie Creates in COMO

Delivering Nutrition: Lifelong Foodie Creates in COMO

  • "Delivering Nutrition" originally appeared in the January 2024 health and wellness issue of COMO Magazine.
Prepped Meal from Koda's Fit Kitchen
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Prepped Meals In To Go Containers Lined Up

Finding the time to plan, shop for, and cook nutritionally balanced meals can be a challenge. But thanks to Dakota and Justin Owens, founders of Koda’s Fit Kitchen, eating great-tasting, healthy food has never been easier.

At Koda’s Fit Kitchen, each ready-to-eat dish is created from scratch by chef and nutritionist Dakota Owens, using simple, high-quality ingredients. 

“People are so busy, and time is a precious commodity,” Dakota says. “Sometimes it is simply a matter of choosing how to spend the limited hours of the day you have. If we can lighten the load and allow people to focus on doing what they love and their families while fueling their bodies nutritionally, that’s a win.”

Born a Foodie

Born into the restaurant industry, Dakota is the daughter of Mary and Norton Evans, founders of Columbia’s much-loved and belated 63 Diner.

“My two brothers and I spent our childhood at the diner — bussing and waiting tables, running the register, and doing whatever needed to be done,” she reminisces, describing her life-long passion for cooking. “I was raised in a family of food. Dad ran the back of the house, and Mom ran the front of the house.”

Dakota graduated from the University of Missouri in 2013 with a degree in nutrition and fitness. From her perspective as a personal trainer, she says the number one area that her clients tend to struggle with is nutrition. 

“It can be difficult to navigate the overwhelming amount of information regarding what and when to eat and find the time to meal plan, shop, and cook,” she explains. “People think they must eat a salad for every meal to eat healthy and that is simply not true.”

She continues, “I love taking a traditionally unhealthy dish and turning it into a healthy option that can taste good and isn’t boring. Surprisingly to most, it is all about simple ingredients, seasoning, and flavor.”

In October 2022 to bring in some extra income, Dakota had the idea to create ready-made meals as a side gig. Her goal: sell 100 meals per week.

“We blew a hundred meals out of the water the first week,” she says with a laugh. “Justin and I were shocked how quickly the business took off and grew. Even though he loved his job at Veterans United he made the decision to move forward and join me in our quickly growing business.”

The Process

Today Koda’s Fit Kitchen is a completely online, ready-made meal delivery service creating, packaging, and delivering more than 1000 meals per week. Customers choose from a variety of single-serving, prepared fresh options that are delivered to homes and some businesses in a fifteen-mile radius of Columbia. There is no minimum order.

The online menu includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes as well as snacks and options for kids. As a certified nutritionist, Dakota ensures that all the meals are made with high-quality, anti-inflammatory ingredients and contain a healthy macronutrient ratio.

“We’re proud to use antibiotic and hormone-free proteins, slow-digesting carbohydrates, and healthy fats,” she says. “Plus, many of the meals are gluten-free and all ingredients and macros are listed on the website.”

The magic happens in a 10,0000-square-foot commercial kitchen located just outside of Columbia. Koda’s Fit Kitchen currently has five employees in addition to Dakota and Justin. 

“We have an awesome crew and we have really learned the strengths of our team and the most efficient systems to make the processes as smooth as possible,” she adds.

Dakota creates the recipes, many of which are bowl-based, keeping in mind that the meals must reheat well. She notes that inspiration for the dishes comes from her imagination as well as seeing what other meal prep businesses are doing.

“We infuse a lot of flavor and texture by utilizing a variety of sauces,” she says. The menu changes bi-weekly, with about six to ten crowd-pleasing staple entrees that remain consistent. “If any one of them is removed, we hear about it.”

The top crowd-pleaser seems to be the Cheeseburger Bowl. The quinoa, brown rice, kale, and garlic base is topped with lean seasoned ground beef, macro-friendly sauce topped with dill pickle, and cheddar cheese. A surprisingly close second is the BBQ Chicken Bowl with grilled, barbecued chicken served over mashed potatoes and roasted corn, topped with 2 percent shredded cheddar cheese and green onion.

There are also options for those with food sensitivities and allergies. The Taco Pizza is a ten-inch gluten-free, dairy-free cauliflower crust topped with a housemade taco sauce, shredded cheddar and pepper jack cheese blend, Mexican seasoned ground beef, diced tomato, green onion, diced pickled jalapenos, and black olives. Dakota says the pizzas are made fresh but are frozen before delivery.

“It is so simple,” she adds. “People here in Columbia really love good — uncomplicated food — so we have leaned into the feedback from loyal customers. We have found they really enjoy the basics.”

Online orders are due each Friday at noon, after which Dakota creates the prep lists for the massive cook session and packaging day on Sunday. After the meals are cooked, they are cooled, which involves an extensive process, and safely packaged.

Meals are delivered on Mondays in a box that contains an insulated liner and ice pack, which can be returned for reuse. Meals need to be reheated and consumed in three to five days from delivery. 

Although meals can be frozen, for best results Dakota recommends they should be eaten fresh. Many regular customers leave a cooler on the front porch for the insulated box delivery to guarantee freshness.

The Future

One future improvement currently in progress is a modified atmosphere pressure sealing system which involves a machine that seals the meals to keep out oxygen, giving the meals an extended shelf life of ten to fourteen days. The upgraded packaging allows customers to order for a full seven days instead of the current three-to-five-day window.

“When we started this out — and I really did think it was going to be a just side gig — I decided quickly on the name Koda’s Fit Kitchen, but this is not my show anymore,” Dakota explains. “Now Justin is on board, and I couldn’t do it without him. We are truly a team. We love working together and we feel super blessed to be able to build and grow our business together.”

Koda’s Fit Kitchen can be found online at and on Facebook and Instagram @kodasfitkitchen.

“God has been so good, and we are trusting Him to show us what the next steps are,” she adds. “We are grateful for the pace at which we are growing, improving processes, and becoming better every single week.” 

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