Weight loss is top of mind this time of year, with New Year’s resolutions being planned with the best intentions.

The top resolutions for the past several years have been a combination of staying fit/healthy and losing weight, according to consumer research company Nielsen. Consulting with your doctor is one of the first steps in creating a healthy lifestyle plan that’s the best fit.

Eating right and being more physically active are top suggestions from the National Institute of Health’s “Aim for a Healthy Weight” website where you can find healthy eating plans, menus, food exchange lists, shopping tips, facts on portion control, recipes and more. A December 2014 study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that more time spent on home food preparation was associated with higher diet quality, including eating more fruits and vegetables.

The same study noted that time was an “essential ingredient” in creating healthier eating habits among adults. That lack of time in our daily lives carved out a niche for meal delivery kit companies such as Plated, Hello Fresh and Blue Apron, which have grown in popularity in recent years. And healthy meal companies such as Illinois-based Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating have been around for more than 30 years.

If you need help with food prep, here are some local options to get you started.

Food 4 Fuel

Jim McIlroy launched Food 4 Fuel in 2014. The business offers healthy, portion-controlled food. McIlroy was motivated to start the business after he and his family started a health-conscious journey about five years ago where combined, they lost 69 pounds in 90 days. During that time, he said, “We realized how important having a healthy relationship with food was, and we wanted to make it easily accessible to the folks in our community.”

“Our mission is to help Rockford, or a local city, become a top-25 healthiest place to live by 2025,” McIlroy said, inspired by the similar mission of Transform Rockford. “When we started, we were the No. 4 most obese city in the country. We have been a thought leader and a loud voice for change, and meal prep has become a household conversation for those that are health-conscious.”

Some Food 4 Fuel customers are on weekly and monthly plans, and the most popular plans are: Weekday Warrior, a variety pack of 20 meals and snacks for $109; 18 meals and eight snacks for $150; and 12 meals and five snacks for $100. Meals include lean proteins such as chicken, ground beef and ground turkey; carbs such as potatoes and rice; and vegetables.

Food 4 Fuel’s Grab-N-Go events on Monday and Thursday nights also have become popular. That’s when customers can stop by the business (inside Carlson Ice Arena, 4150 N. Perryville Road, Loves Park) and buy meals straight from the freezers for $8 per meal. McIlroy also does catering for businesses of all sizes.

“The bottom line is we want to make our health options accessible to all,” he said. “It does not make a lot of sense to have wellness committees, smoking cessation classes and try to reduce health insurance rates for employees, yet treat them with donuts, Danishes, pizza and soda all the time because it’s quick and cheap.”

Food 4 Fuel has catered for hospitals in the region, schools, doctors’ offices, sports teams, church groups and many other organizations. Catering prices range from $9 to $29 per person.

McIlroy has invested in additional food trucks and 20 commercial coolers to strategically place at partner sites, so customers pick up their meals at locations closest to them. The business also has donated more than 5,000 servings of food to people in need.

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