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Meals in the field for farm families during harvest

Farming combine in background with text in foreground reading Meals in the Field

Fields are turning to browns and golds and harvest has begun. With farmers across Illinois spending long hours in the fields, they and their farm families are shifting mealtime from the kitchen table to the field.

Being in the middle of a field without kitchen conveniences like microwaves, refrigerators, and sinks requires farmers, workers, and farm families to get creative with meals and snacks.

In the busyness of the season, Illinois Extension wishes you well and encourages you to download these free handouts to help in shopping for, preparing, and delivering meals and snacks with nutrition and food safety in mind.

Shelf-Stable Foods

Explore a list of healthier shelf-stable foods in each food group that need no preparation or refrigeration following the federal food guide MyPlate. Also, find a list of individually-packaged shelf-stable foods that add pre-portioned convenience.

Download the PDF

Planning Nutritious Meals

Meals with fiber, protein, and fat will digest slowly and help farmers and workers feel fuller for longer. Along with tips on what foods have these nutrients, learn about meal planning based on the MyPlate food guide.

Download the PDF

Healthy Farmers

Planting and harvesting are busy times of the year. Farmers - make sure to take care of yourselves. In this handout, learn about timing meals and snacks to sustain energy, ways to wash hands in the middle of a field, and tips for staying hydrated.

Download the PDF

Maximizing Nutrition with Snacks

Snacks help curb hunger between meals and are a great way to add nutrition to your daily food choices. Find information on pairing carbohydrate and protein foods for an energy-sustaining snacks, including tips on healthier trail mix.

Download the PDF

Food Safety

Foodborne illnesses impact around 1 in 6 Americans every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For farm families cooking food at home and delivering meals to the field, food safety is very important. In this handout, find information on safe temperatures when traveling with food, ways to pack insulated containers, and reminders about how long foods can sit out before foodborne illness becomes a concern.

Download the PDF


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Caitlin Mellendorf is an Illinois Extension Nutrition and Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon and Piatt Counties in Central Illinois. She is a Registered Dietitian and her work focuses on helping community members gain the knowledge, skills and tools to live healthier, more nutritious lifestyles. This includes providing programs and answering questions about heart health, diabetes, food safety, food preservation, grocery shopping and cooking. You can reach Caitlin by email at or call 217.877.6042. Check out her nutrition blog Healthy Eats and Repeats for seasonal recipes and of an exploration of common kitchen foods.