How To Meal Prep

The stereotype of the poor student exists for a reason, we're poor when it comes to both money and time. So  let me introduce you to meal prepping. You're welcome in advance. 

 

So, you don't have time to cook something from scratch  at every meal time. You often just buy something on campus, or tell yourself you'll wait then end up eating everything you can get your hands on? It's hard to eat a balanced diet that way, and you know what a mediocre diet is terrible for? A student trying to balance good grades, a social life, a job and more. Not to mention it's terrible for your wallet. 

 

Step One: Plan out your meals 

 

Planning out your meals will help  you save on groceries because you're only buying what you need. It also means you  can look at your meals in advance and see whether you're getting enough nutrients throughout the week. If you can see what meals you're eating in advance, you can also plan out some healthy snacks to have on hand!  

 

Step Two: Where to put your meals 

 

A key part of making and storing meals for throughout your week is having something to store them in. You don't need  to get fancy with this part! I use leftover jars to make my overnight oats and my friend uses leftover takeaway containers to portion out meals.  Also, you don't have to separate everything into daily meals!  You can just leave a meal in one large container and portion it throughout the week, but you'll need a bigger container  for that. 

 

Step Three: The actual cooking 

 

Meal prepping doesn't have to mean cooking every meal you'll eat that week in advance. Small things like cooking up some pasta or rice or baking a batch of veggies will help you throughout the week. You can prep ingredients in a bag then cook it when you come home from class, or cook it on the weekend and have it in the fridge ready for you to reheat. It's entirely up to you.  I'd suggest working it out based on your classes  and when you have spare time. If you have a class until 10pm like I did last semester and don’t have time to eat beforehand (I would not recommend) then you'd probably benefit from making your dinner ahead of time and reheating and/or assembling it when you get home. On other days, you might finish class at 1pm, so you have all the time in the world to cook dinner but would need to be able to take your lunch with you. Do whatever suits your schedule. 

 

I  get most of my meal ideas from Pinterest (I have like twelve boards), YouTube and  Instagram. We all have different dietary requirements and tastes in food and you should be able to find something to suit you. 

 

Here' s a few meal ideas to get you started. 

 

Breakfast: 

  • overnight oats 

  • breakfast burritos (freeze and reheat) 

  • muffins 

  • breakfast parfaits 

  • smoothies (portion out your ingredients ahead of time) 

Here's a link to 21 different recipes for breakfasts you can make ahead of time. 

https://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/21-healthy-make-ahead-breakfasts/  

 

Lunch and Dinner: 

 

For me at least, lunch and dinner are basically interchangeable, so I've combined  suggestions for the two. 

  • roasted veggies 

  • taco bowls 

  • mason jar salads 

  • pasta 

  • chilli 

  • stir fry 

  • soup 

Here's a link to 20 lunch meal prep recipes. 

http://theeverygirl.com/20-lunches-you-can-meal-prep-on-sunday  

Here's a link to 21 cheap meals you can make ahead and put in the freezer. 

http://smartmoneysimplelife.com/easy-freezer-meals-frugal/  

 

Snacks: 

  • whatever fruit is in season (it’s more likely to be cheap this way) 

  • rice cakes and various toppings 

  • popcorn 

  • veggies and hummus 

 

Other: 

You can find YouTube videos on basic cooking skills and student-specific meal ideas  (hummus pasta, who knew?).  This is one of my favourites on cooking tips, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9btc6we4ViY  ) and you can find a multitude of student-friendly meal ideas just by looking up student meals on YouTube. Enjoy that black hole.  

 

Just remember, keep one side of your cutting board for cutting up raw meat and the other for everything else.  

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