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Do you, like many of us, have a full-time job and no time to prepare and cook healthy meals?

A new Valparaiso business says it has a solution for you.

Shift Meal Prep precooks and packages nutritious meals then delivers them to your home or a pickup location in the Region. All you have to do is heat them up in the microwave.

"It's for the working people, the teachers, the welders," said co-owner Dan Schultz, of Hobart. "Any professionals out there who are working their butts off and don't really have a lot of time to do the planning, prepping and shopping to be able to live a healthy lifestyle on a budget."

Schultz knows what that's like. In fact, it's how he got the idea for the business.

After college, he started working an office job in downtown Chicago. By the time he got home at night, he didn't have the time or energy to cook. He spent a lot of money — and calories — eating out for lunch every day.

"It's especially difficult to cook for one person," he said. "There's planning and shopping and research involved if you want to do it in a healthy way."

He looked into services that send you the ingredients to cook nutritious meals, but realized he didn't even have the time to do that.

So he came up with his own fix.

He and his co-owner brother, along with three employees, rented out a commercial kitchen space in Valparaiso. They created four rotating menus, with meals, all between 400 and 500 calories, like chicken cacciatore and whole grain penne, Mediterranean shish kabob and quinoa, and coconut-crusted chicken strips.

They set up a website, where customers log in, choose their meals for the week and have them home-delivered in refrigerated packaging or sent to a local hub (in either Valparaiso, St. John or Winfield) for pickup. The business texts to let you know when the meals are being prepared and then when they're ready to be picked up.

Shift Meal Prep, which sources from local farmers markets as much as possible, also plans to start selling protein by the pound to fitness enthusiasts. The meals can be synced with the My Fitness Pal app. Schultz's brother, Tim, has a background in exercise science, while the company's chef is getting a degree in nutrition.

Schultz said he has had customers lose as many as 100 pounds and be cured of their sleep apnea by eating a diet of his company's meals.


Health reporter

Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.