Life’s Hectic – Meal Planning Doesn’t Have to Be

Life’s Hectic – Meal Planning Doesn’t Have to Be

Dec 21, 2022Paige Green, RD, LD

Sadly, willpower doesn’t always win. Stress and life? Those get in the way, too. Therefore your attempt at eating healthy is usually the first to go. But, why?


January is right around the corner, as this month marks the start of resolution season (with weight loss topping the list). What are you going to do differently this year? Allow your Hy-Vee dietitians to let you in on an often forgotten weight loss secret – a secret that doesn’t require detox dieting or cardboard meals. This secret is a simple, yet powerful, habit to have: meal planning!


That’s it! Without this, even the most dedicated healthy eaters can fall off track. So now that you know the secret, here’s how to put forth the effort: 


  1. Stop Your Scroll and Devote Time to Making a Plan - There’s no guessing how much time is spent on our phones these days, as a daily average report is sent at the end of each week (whether you were asking for one or not). Ever wonder how productive you’d be if you weren’t nose deep in your news feed? Take 20 minutes between social accounts, and sit down and plan a weekly menu. You can even just worry about the dinner meal (bonus if those dinner ideas have leftovers = lunch the next day).
    1. Quick Breakfast Idea: Kodiak Cakes Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal
  2. Don’t Start from Scratch - Sure, the cookbook you received from your grandma has hundreds of wonderful recipes, but the last thing you need to worry about are new menu items while working on this new habit. Start with your go-to meals (tacos, spaghetti or soups, perhaps). Repeat these every few weeks. Then, when you’re up to it, add a new recipe.
    1. Product Highlight: Banza Chickpea Rotini Pasta
  3. Shop the Shortcuts - Save time (and maybe a finger) and purchase chopped fruits and veggies. Hy-Vee makes it convenient for you to eat healthy without the hassle of prepping the goods. Use chopped peppers in your scrambled eggs, cubed pineapples for a mid-afternoon snack, or cauliflower rice in your chicken stir-fry. It’s low on effort yet big on flavor.
  4. Lean on Frozen/Canned Veggies - Just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts, frozen and canned veggies should be a staple on your grocery list. First of all, many of us don’t eat the recommended five cups of fruits and veggies daily. And no meal is complete without a pop of color. There is an assortment of products that abandon the bland and scream flavor, making it an easy add to your meal plates.
    1. Product Highlight: Full Circle Organic Mushrooms
  5. Remember the Between-Meal-Bites, Too - Snacking, the right way, will help you succeed. Think protein + carbs (yogurt and apple, peanut butter and banana) for satisfying munching. Keep snacks around the 200 calorie mark and they, too, can fall into a healthy meal plan.
    1. Product Highlight: From the Ground Up Cauliflower Cheddar Crackers


Connect with your local Hy-Vee dietitian on our virtual nutrition services platform. To learn more, head to and schedule a complimentary Discovery Session with a Hy-Vee dietitian. We offer a variety of services to help you meet your weight loss goals, including one-on-one consultation packages, personalized menu plan programs, virtual nutrition store tours and more.


Pan Fried Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

Serves 4


All you need:

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

Hy-Vee salt

¼ cup plus 2 tbsp That’s Smart! salted butter, softened

1 to 2 tbsp That’s Smart! 2% reduced-fat milk

Coarsely ground Hy-Vee black pepper

1 tbsp Hy-Vee canola oil

4 (4-oz each) boneless top loin pork chops, about ½-inch thick

1 cup refrigerated pressed apple juice

¾ tsp Hy-Vee cornstarch

½ tsp apple pie spice

½ tsp Hy-Vee Dijon mustard

2 Gala apples, cored and cut into 6 wedges

1 small Vidalia onion, cut into 6 wedges

½ tsp chopped fresh thyme, plus additional for garnish

All you do:

  1. Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with water; add ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and gently boil for 12 to 15 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain well.
  2. Return potatoes to saucepan. Add ¼ cup butter; mash with a potato masher until smooth. Stir in enough milk until light and fluffy; season to taste with salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
  3. Heat canola oil in a large cast-iron skillet. Add pork chops and cook over medium heat for 7 to 9 minutes or until pork reaches 145 degrees, turning halfway thorough. Transfer pork chops to a plate; cover to keep warm.
  4. Whisk together apple juice, cornstarch, apple pie spice and mustard; set aside.
  5. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium heat. Add apples, onion and ½ teaspoon thyme. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes or just until softened, stirring frequently. Push apples and onion to side of skillet. Add apple juice mixture to center of skillet; cook and whisk for 1 to 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Return pork chops to skillet and heat through. Garnish with additional thyme, if desired. Serve with mashed sweet potatoes.


Nutrition Facts per serving: 494 calories, 26g fat, 13g saturated fat, 101mg cholesterol, 472mg sodium, 42g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 21g sugar, 1g added sugar, 27g protein


Recipe source: Pan-Fried Pork Chops with Apples and Onions | Hy-Vee


The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

About the Registered Dietitian 

Paige Green RD, LD, pursued her passion for nutrition at Iowa State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics in 2015. Paige strives to educate individuals on finding a healthy balance in life. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, learn more about healthier food options or have questions about a certain medical condition, Paige is happy to help you attain your health goals.

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