New dinner options are on the table
By Heather Weller
Photos of Rochester downtown
farmers Market and Heather Weller by Dawn Sanborn Photography
As the kids head back to school and the morning hustles begin with cool autumn air, it’s clear that the flexible days of summer have officially come to a close. The chaos of school activities and families running in multiple directions each day is in full swing. Family kitchens are scattered with homework assignments, calendars and parents frantically asking themselves, “What should I make for dinner?”
MEAL PREP AND DELIVERY IS ALL THE BUZZ
After the birth of her son four years ago, Amy Beeman discovered how overwhelming and stressful mealtime could be. Beeman quickly realized she wasn’t the only mother feeling this way. After some research, she decided to embark on a business venture that could offer busy families a solution—freshly prepared meals delivered the very same day. Busy Bee Meal Prep offers just over 15 menus with several options to meet the needs and preferences of individual families. The meal categories include: Family Fare, Macro Meals, Easy Eats, Caveman Cuisine, Honest to Wholeness, Nutritious Nosh and others. The meals are portioned to serve four to six people. For larger families, extra servings can be added for an additional fee.
Menu modification options are available for those with dietary preferences and requirements such as gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan and keto. Beeman has partnered with Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe for meats and with vendors from the Rochester Farmers Market for produce and other seasonal ingredients. Local food sources are used for ingredients whenever possible.
Fully prepared meals are delivered to front doors with detailed cooking and serving instructions. Recommendations for side dishes are also provided. Although the Savory Slow Cooker menu proves to be the most popular selection, Family Fare meals and keto meals are also top favorites. Beeman has noted a sharp increase in the number of Busy Bee Meal Prep gift cards being purchased as gifts for new parents, those recuperating from surgery or health issues and those who simply appreciate the convenience of a healthy, ready-made meal. The gift cards enable recipients to select their own menu and delivery timeline. The website busybeemealprep.com details the membership and delicious menu options.
GRAB AND GO: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
In response to the need for quick and convenient meal pick-up, Hy-Vee locations have rolled out an option for busy women and families called Hy-Vee Mealtime. In a designated aisle you’ll find entrees, side dishes and all the fixings ready for pick-up from the cooler shelves. A variety of entrees are available to meet individual tastes, quantity needs and cravings. Some of the most popular options include beef enchiladas, street tacos, lasagna, meatloaf and stir fry dishes. Individualized sandwich and wrap options are also available. Hy-Vee Mealtime also offers a vast selection of sides that includes parmesan potatoes, macaroni and cheese, grilled asparagus, blanched broccoli and candied carrots, among others. The arrangement is designed for shoppers to easily select the entree and any sides at a glance. Cooked ingredient staples such as shredded chicken are also available for pick-up and can easily be added to a salad or favorite family recipe without the hassle of grilling or having to first prepare the meat. Each package is clearly marked with a “use by” date. After selecting an entree and delicious side dishes, don’t forget to pick up a prepackaged salad.
In addition, the Hy-Vee store on West Circle Drive has partnered with Progression Nutrition to create healthy, low-carb and energy-boosting entrees for those who have particular interest in the nutritional and caloric elements of their meals. Prices vary, but items can be found to fit any budget. If you wish for more convenience, you can also opt for delivery. By joining Hy-Vee Aisles Online, you can arrange for pick-up at the store or home delivery. Pick-up is free with a minimum purchase of $30. With the purchase of a membership, delivery is free.
A PERSONALIZED APPROACH
As an avid Rochester Farmers Market attendee and savvy meal planner, I enjoy finding the freshest local ingredients to use in my family’s favorite recipes. In cooking for two teenagers who love vegetables, it’s easy for me to create fresh and healthy recipes while also supporting local producers. Typically, I’ll hit the market early Saturday morning after having made my general shopping list the day before. The basis for my meal plan is very simple: After determining which vegetables are in season, I select one to feature each day. Then I add a protein and side dish to complete the meal. After completing my ingredient shopping list, and throwing in a couple surprise findings to “mix things up a bit,” I head home to wash, chop and prepare five meals to sustain my family through the busy week.
In addition to the ingredients needed for menu items, I also shop for vegetables that can be placed in snack containers for quick options as a mid-day pick-me-up.
Interest in the idea of pre-planned meals and preparation options has surged in recent years. Whether a family creates and prepares their own meals, utilizes the convenient option of a meal-prep and delivery service or plans meals with grab-and-go selections, planning ahead allows for busy parents and families to eat healthier foods, accommodate dietary needs and save time so they’re able to spend more quality time together at the dinner table.
Heather Weller is a licensed REALTOR® in MN.