Simple Meal Prepping Tips for College Students

Everyone has a busy week, every week. It is inevitable. We all get caught up in homework and various clubs and organizations that we are a part of. This restricts our meal times and sometimes causes us to skip a meal altogether. We also don’t always LOVE the dining options that our university provides for us, but we can’t afford to go off campus and indulge in better options. This leaves us lacking a well-balanced, nutritional diet. In order to combat these issues, you can meal prep! Many college students are against this idea, saying that it takes up too much time or that it is not effective. If this is the mindset that you have, you are looking at meal prepping in the wrong way! By remembering just a few tips and tricks you can feel fuller, and happier, longer.

1. Plan ahead, make a list, and stick to the list

Look into your refrigerator and see what exactly you have hiding in there. Once you have assessed that situation, create a checklist of food items that you feel you will enjoy as well as satisfy your hunger. It may be beneficial to break down your list into fruits, vegetables, proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This can ensure that you are focusing on a balanced diet when planning out your week. Once you have done this, make sure that you stick to this list when you get to the grocery store. This will ensure that you are sticking to healthier foods and that you are within a designated budget.

2. Buy in bulk

Buying in bulk is also another option when meal prepping. By going to a wholesale club and stocking up on foods like brown rice and quinoa, you will always have a healthier carb to pair with your meal. These items can be easily stored for an extended amount of time without having to worry about expiration dates.

3. Feel free to take food from your dining hall

We’ve all done it, so don’t feel bad. The dining hall may suck at times, but if you bring a container and strategically choose the healthier options you can come out of it with an entirely new meal. Taking raw peppers and onions is a good idea if you are planning to cook a stir fry, or various fruits if you do not have time to grab a mid-day snack. This can be meal prepping in itself, if you use the dining hall to your advantage.

4. Don’t forget about your freezer!

Having a freezer is CRUCIAL. Most people do not utilize their freezers as much as they should be. This is great for keeping frozen fruits for smoothies, or extra chicken breasts so you do not have to cook a ton at once. Remember, when meal prepping you are usually cooking for just yourself but sometimes grocery stores don’t sell things like chicken breast in a single serving. When you begin cooking, take out the amount of chicken you feel you can eat for two sittings (for your current meal and a meal in the near future), and then put the rest in the freezer! That way you have meal prepped for two full meals, and you still have extra chicken to use at any time.

5. Find a friend to meal prep with

Yes, most of the time people have different diets. But if possible, find a friend that has a similar diet to our own and stock up on different food items with them. This is a cost effective and time saving approach to meal prepping. If you have a friend alongside of you meal prepping, it will feel ten times easier. By combining grocery lists and cooking the same meals, you will be held accountable to carrying on your meal prep and healthy eating.

6. Pick a day of the week/weekend to prep all food items

By picking a day of the week or weekend to prepare all of your meals for the entire week, you are saving yourself a lot of time in the long run. Having every meal prepped out for yourself for a week may seem aggressive, but in all honesty you will be grateful when you are running late to class and forgot to eat dinner. All you will have to do is reach into the fridge, grab a container, and go. This goes for snacks as well. If fruit and vegetables are already cut up in the fridge, you will be more likely to grab those over a bag of chips.

7. Utilize your storage options

Don’t forget about purchasing storage containers. Yes, in college you may not have a ton of space to store these containers which makes it beneficial to find the collapsible ones. These containers take up a relatively small amount of space, and can be bought in bulk to avoid high, unnecessary costs. These containers come in handy when you are meal prepping for an entire week and need seven containers to complete your prep.

8. Don’t forget, life happens

At the end of the day, no matter how much we meal prep, we can’t forget that unforeseen circumstances will arise. Maybe you forgot about a group meeting that you had before class, and you now don’t have time to run back to your dorm to grab a meal that you already had prepped. This means you are stuck with a less healthy option from an on campus dining option. It is also important to remember that you should treat yourself every once in a while. Don’t get so caught up in meal prepping that it affects your personal relationships. If a friend asks you to grab sushi or pizza for dinner, go with them if that’s what you want to do. Do not restrict yourself from having fun and enjoying somewhat unhealthier foods. This is college and you are allowed to let life get in the way every once in a while.