How I Started Meal Prepping In College and Why You Should Too

For decades, it has been the stereotype that college students have horrible diets. It’s expected for us to binge on ramen, nutella, pizza, and other unhealthy bites instead of selecting more balanced options throughout the day. My solution? Meal prepping.

When I started my fitness journey as a freshman in college, I thought to myself that I could never start meal prepping. It was too expensive to buy a bunch of groceries for the week ( sometimes two), I didn’t have time to sit around and make a weeks worth of meals, and it was just simply tiring. I said these things to myself and to others but I also had no other solution to how I could eat better or even eat at all, so I tried my first meal prep. I instantly knew I was completely wrong about all of my worries.

 

I was saving money more than I ever had before.

                                                                 source

 

That worry about spending too much money on groceries? I couldn’t have been more wrong. I went from spending a total of $300-500 a month on eating out, plus the little groceries, I did get to spending only $100-$200 a month on food. This was a total game changer! I learned the ins and outs of the grocery stores and what would get me more for my buck, including couponing. I am no expert on couponing by any means but I do have a few tips to help you get started on saving money when you shop. 

  1. Download store apps

I know we all hate to have a cluster of apps and emails from stores but it could not be more worth it. Being a “member”  of most grocery stores gets you things like specialty coupon codes, discounts whenever you shop,and getting points on gas and other items! You also get the weekly coupons and discounts emailed right to you or sent to your app. It’s perfect, really.

 

  1. Consider getting a shopping card at Sams or Costco

I always thought I didn’t need things in bulk. I’m one person so it’s unnecessary, right? Wrong. After spending $30 on a big set of paper towels months ago I haven’t bought a single paper towel since then. Now imagine saving that much on almost everything you buy. It’s insane and totally worth it. Both Costco and Sam’s Club have fresh food and all at a good price for the amount you are getting. Freezing the foods you don’t use during the week of purchase helps with storage and preservation.

 

  1. Consider subscribing to a couponing site 

My favorite couponing site at the moment is Krazy Coupon Lady. There are a variety of tips and information on couponing as well as coupons for different stores and instructions under each coupon. The site has both printed and digital coupons for those who don’t like the exciting hunt for newspaper clippings.

 

No time? Too Tired? What’s that?!

                                                                Source

 

I’m not going to lie, meal prepping definitely takes some time. I spend anywhere from 1-4 hours when prepping lunch and dinner for the week and sometimes it can be frustrating. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. The great thing about meal preps is that they are customizable to you and your needs. Some days I want a fancy meal that takes longer to prepare. On other days, I cut everything up, throw it in my instapot, and forget about it for a while. You have the option of what meals you want to prep and what meals you don’t need to prep. For instance, I prep lunch and dinner because I tend to get home late at night and won’t want to cook, but I wake up early to cook a fresh breakfast every morning. Either way you choose to go, it leaves you tons of time during your busiest days to not have to worry about what or if you will eat that day. 

 

Dorm life 

While I have personally never stayed in a dorm I know how hard it can be to properly fuel yourself when you barely have a kitchen to begin with. So, for all of my dorm room people, I did NOT forget about you. 

 

  1.  Invest in an instapot

The first thing I would recommend to anyone living in a dorm is to invest in an instapot. As I mentioned before, an instapot is the key to a quick and easy meal of any kind. There are hundreds of meal preps online specifically for instapots and they are all absolutely delicious. Depending on your budget an instapot can be a bit of an investment but it’s worth it in the end. Consider splitting the price with trusted roommates or using a large pot in place of one. Here is a budget-friendly instapot that I found online.

 

  1. Check around your Campus

You can also check your dorm building for a kitchen. Most college campuses have a full kitchen on each floor of the dorms so be sure to check that out if you’re an incoming freshman or transfer student who knows that they want access to a full-sized kitchen.

 

  1. Use whatever resources you have

Microwaves are always available somewhere. It may not seem pleasing but microwavable meals are totally doable and I have even tested it out myself. Check out this youtube video for a bunch of creative microwave only meal ideas!

 

                                                                One Pot Cajun Chicken Orzo  

                                                                Shrimp and sausage skillet

 

                                                                Buddha Bowls (Chicken can be added or it can be kept vegan!)

 

As hard as it may seem at first, meal prepping is one of the best things I have learned to do as a college student. I hope this inspires you to get creative and try a recipe or two!