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In our fast–paced world, it seems like all anyone ever needs is more time. More time to finish that assignment, to work out, to cook, to clean…and the list goes on and on. So, it’s no surprise that Americans are spending more money on takeout than ever before. I mean, who really has two hours every night to cook a proper dinner? But, then again, who can afford to consistently spend money on expensive takeout dinners? The solution to these problems is simple: meal prepping. 

Meal prepping is when you cook one or two large batches of food at the beginning of the week (typically Sunday), and portion it out for three to four days worth of meals. At first, meal prepping may appear daunting, but I can tell you from personal experience that it’s so worth the work in the end!

So, yes, you’ll be eating the same thing a few times throughout the week, but there are also tons of ways you can repurpose the same leftovers for different dishes! Additionally, the upsides to meal prepping definitely outweigh the downsides. It helps save time and money and results in healthier portion sizes than the large plates typically served at restaurants. 

You might be thinking, “Okay, this sounds great, but where do I even begin?” Well, here are some of my favorite, easy–to–make recipes for a great starting point.

For Breakfast

Ultimate Breakfast Burrito

These burritos are made with eggs, ham, salsa, and cheese, and all I can say is yum. They’re so filling and easy to make. After meal prepping, you can just pop your leftover burritos in the freezer and heat them up whenever you want. To make them even healthier, I recommend using a spinach–based tortilla.

Overnight Oats

Overnight oats have become my college diet staple. You can make so many different flavors and prepare them the night before or up to three days before eating them. Though you can make a variety of overnight oats recipes, my favorite is chocolate peanut butter!

Lunch and Dinner

Salmon Teriyaki and Vegetables

This salmon teriyaki dish is easy to make and so delicious! Even better, it’s all made in one pan, which makes for an easy clean up. Accompanied with vegetables, this dish has a ton of nutrients to fuel you throughout the day. Pair it with some rice, and you have a well–rounded meal.

This recipe has you make your own teriyaki sauce, which is tasty, but you can also swap it out with any store bought sauce for easier preparation. 

Chicken Parm Stuffed Peppers 

I’m extremely Italian, so I never miss the opportunity to eat any form of chicken parm. These stuffed peppers are a great, healthy twist on this dish — while still maintaining that classic, yummy taste. If you want to make this recipe even healthier, you can switch out the breaded chicken with lean ground beef for a more traditional–style stuffed pepper. 

Spicy Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

This is one of my favorite recipes to make during the springtime. Pairing this dish with some hummus, avocado, or a side of veggies makes a tasty, fresh, well–rounded meal. This meal only takes about 45 minutes to prepare, most of it hands–off, so it’s a great option during a time crunch!

The recipes above are just a couple of the amazing meal prep ideas you can find online. I’ve found that these recipes have helped improve not only my physical health, but also my mental health. Knowing that good, healthy nutrients are going into my body definitely improves my day, especially because the food tastes so good! I truly look forward to eating every meal now, and I hope these recipes help you feel the same.

Rachael is a Senior at UPenn studying Neuroscience. When Rachael isn't busy with school work, you can catch her walking her Havanese puppy, Bella, or boxing at her favorite gym.
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