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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hawaii chapter.

Spring semester has officially begun and most college kids are already living off of leftovers, 7/11 snacks and dreaming of their mom’s cooking and once available fresh, stocked pantry at home. It’s pretty overwhelming at the start of a new semester with new classes, work, meetings and trying to fit in a workout that food just doesn’t really fit in there. I know I’m not about to stop in the middle of the day to defrost and cook some chicken, cut anything or honestly cook anything that takes more than 5 min. Being healthy in those moments just isn’t important enough to commit to all that sh*t.

Sooooo that’s why instead of me sitting here and complaining about all the responsibilities we have as college students, I’m going to make it the hardest thing possible for you to make excuses or justify grabbing that bag of chips. Meal Prepping! Yeah, it sounds like the sh*t that only fit, annoying people do, well guess what? I’m about to turn you into someone who does the sh*t that fit, annoying people do and we’re going to do it broke and in college. There’s no substitute for a healthy meal, but there is a substitute for every overpriced, healthy food option. I’m not going to make this difficult. This is from one college student to another, and my goal is to help make your health goals possible. We’re doing my favorite breakfast, lunch and dinner here baby, so let’s take a journey down Costco lane.

Breakfast Meal Prep

Because I have 7:30 am classes and would rather sleep than make breakfast.

Kodiak Power Cakes ($10 at Costco/ 40 servings)

These bad boys are cheap, last forever and are filled with protein, which means you’re not going to be starved at 10 am after your so called “breakfast” (protein bars aren’t breakfast). The options on the back give you ways to increase the protein based on whether you add water, milk or milk and eggs. But we’re broke and water is free, so with water, you get 14 grams of protein. Did you hear me? I said 14 grams of protein, which I promise will keep us hungry college kids satisfied through our sh*tty morning classes. Add on some berries and fruit that you stole from the dining hall and it’s a perfectly delicious, filling and $0.25 cents a serving breakfast prep food!

Lunch Meal Prep

This is the most important meal to prep because it’s the meal we’re most likely to skip.

Step 1: Buy cheap, amazing containers

Amazon prime has these separated containers at 20 for $20 and if that ain’t a deal, I don’t know what is. These are the easiest and most convenient containers to use because they stack in the fridge, are plastic and microwave safe. (And if you don’t have Amazon Prime, get it because you’re a student and get 6 months free, you’re welcome.)

Costco Chicken, Brown Rice and Sweet Potato

(Costco Chicken- $4.99/ Brown Rice (5 lb bag)- $5/ Sweet Potato (3 lbs)- $12)

To start, everybody who has ever lived knows that Costco chicken is god’s gift to man. It is a full rotisserie chicken for $4.99 and let me tell you, I ate half the chicken before I even started meal prepping and still had leftover meat after making 5 days worth of meals. Just cut and shred the chicken, then divide it into each container. Why is it that easy? Because it’s already seasoned and cooked for you, girlll. I would usually add a vegetable to this meal, like brussel sprouts, but we can’t always be perfect. While shredding your chicken, you can throw about 2 cups of rice into a rice cooker, bake your pre-seasoned, already delicious sweet potatoes in the oven and BAM within 30 min you have lunches for the week.

Dinner Meal Prep

At the end of the day, unless you and your roommates are making some exciting Facebook recipe, you don’t want to cook. Cooking means dishes and dishes mean more work, which means…well they just suck.

Stuffed Bell Peppers ($14.84 Costco)These are one of my go-to premade Costco meals and as you can see, my package is already halfway through the week. You get 6 stuffed bell peppers for around $2.50 each. These last me the week and what I like to do is cook them individually every night. It’s as simple as putting some foil on a cookie sheet, slappin’ the bell pepper on there and cooking it for like 30 min. No prep-time and no clean – up (just eat it off the foil).

I’m not feeding you guys bullsh*t: all of the meals and ingredients I showed are straight from my kitchen. It’s your job to pick one night of the week to commit to meal prepping. It’s not that hard to do and if you want to eat a meal rather than a f*cking protein bar, then you’ll make it happen. A lot of these things are from Costco, which means if you don’t have a membership, I would find a friend who does. Buying in bulk is always cheaper than consistently going to the grocery store. Now, of course, this isn’t the only thing I eat all day (I’m 24/7 hungry), there are snacks in between these meals. However, these meals are what really get me through the day and my hope is that they can help you kickstart your meal prep plans and help your ideas blossom!

I grew up in Long Beach, California and made my way to Oahu to achieve my degree in Kinesiology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I plan to pursue a career in the sports medicine field as either an athletic trainer, sport performance trainer or to work within the fitness tech industry. I have an overwhelming passion for fitness and health, playing competitive sports throughout my life has instilled the importance of one's physical and emotional well-being and fueled my desire to study and practice healthy living in my everyday life. I am president of my sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, and one of my main goals is to ensure each one of my sisters is healthy mentally and emotionally throughout their college experience. Outside of my sorority, that's equally my goal in writing this column for you guys. There is so much importance in remembering to put your physical and mental health first and my hope is that my writing can help instill that into each of your lives as well!
Lena is a student at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. She is pursuing a Communciations degree with a focus in Digital Media, as well as dual minors in Business and English. In her free time, she loves being president of her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, and snorkeling on the weekends!