Boxing it up

Natalie and Russell Lobban

Photo by Andre Byik

Natalie Lobban has been a health coach for about 10 years, helping people lose weight by cutting junk food out of their diets and moving them toward a clean-eating palate. In June, she and her husband, Russell, opened Fresh Cove, a brick-and-mortar meal kit business in Chico that Natalie said felt like a natural progression toward advocating healthy food choices. Located at 14 W. Eaton Road, Ste. 160, next to The Grateful Bean Coffee House, Fresh Cove offers freshly prepared, pre-portioned meal kits that can be picked up and cooked at home without a subscription. The kits, which serve two people, cost about $20, and the recipes are concocted by Natalie, an avid cook. “You’ve seen food bloggers, right?” Natalie said. “They have these really awesome, creative recipes, but they’re not realistic to bring into your home. So I take these highly inspired food blogger recipes and make them realistic.” On a recent visit, kits included jerk chicken, Vietnamese grilled pork rice bowls and balsamic seared skirt steak with mashed potatoes, plus some vegan alternatives, to name a few. Pickup and delivery are also available. View the menu at

How did Fresh Cove get its start?

Natalie: The actual business behind it and idea is: We have four kids, and the last thing we wanted to do was go to the grocery store [after] picking them up from school. We wanted something that was local and something that was close and convenient for the neighborhood, so that way you can spend more time with your family [and] less time worrying about what you’re going to eat, knowing that you’re putting good food into your body.

What sets you apart from other meal kit businesses?

Natalie: When a customer comes in they say, “Wow, I’ve always wanted to try a meal kit but I don’t want the subscription.” So, that’s fantastic. … [and] because we have a full kitchen available, we can also customize these kits to how you want it. We’re able to talk through your dietary restrictions. … [and] guide them through customizing these food choices.

How do you choose the meals you offer?

Natalie: I love to cook … so these are all meals that I make myself and prepare at home, and I have a host of judges.

Russell: … with different taste buds. We have a 12-year-old, 10-year-old, 7-year-old and a 3-year-old. So we’ve got all the different flavor palates.

Natalie: Including a Caribbean man who loves spicy food. The other aspect we’re working with is portion size. In our opinion, the worst thing you can do is underfeed somebody, and you don’t want to overfeed them. So that’s where portion control comes in. A lot of the mail-order kits—they are 4 ounces of carbohydrates, 4 ounces of protein and 4 ounces of vegetables. We are a minimum of 6 ounces of protein, 8 ounces—twice the amount—of vegetables, and 4 ounces of carbohydrates per person.