As students, it can be challenging to maintain a healthy diet on a regular basis. Speaking from my personal experience, I often find myself eating unhealthy food that is convenient and fast to make, like instant noodles and kraft dinner, since I’m always on the go. Although fast meals like that are fine to have sometimes, they do not give us the energy and nutrients we need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. That is why I decided to start meal prepping and it has made my life so much easier and has made me feel so much healthier and energized throughout the day.
Here are some of the tips and tricks I have learned along the way:
1. Schedule your meals.
By scheduling meals, you can easily know what you need to buy when you go grocery shopping and you will not forget any ingredients you need. This includes setting aside time, usually a couple of hours, on a Sunday to actually do the preparations and cooking for the week.
2. Buy several containers.
The second tip I have learned is to buy several containers because you will need them. A brand I really like to use is Pyrex because they are a really good size and are glass instead of plastic which you can heat up as needed. I would recommend buying containers of several different sizes as you will need different sizes for different kinds of food or snacks.
3. Switch it up with a variety of foods.
Another trick I have picked up is to incorporate a variety of different kinds of food in my meal prepping to ensure I have a well-rounded diet. This allows me to obtain all the protein, nutrients, and vitamins I need. In addition, try to buy food in bulk, since that way the overall amount is cheaper and you will not need to go back to the grocery store several times a week to restock on the same ingredients.
4. Freeze your food.
Lastly, if you don’t think you are going to be eating some of the food you prepare until a few days later, you can store it in the freezer to keep it fresh. Just don’t forget to take it out the day before you want to eat it and refrigerate it so it doesn’t stay frozen!
Over the past year, I have been meal prepping and I have learned some really great recipes, which are easy for any student no matter how advanced your cooking skills are. Some of my favourites for breakfast include overnight oats and yogurt parfait. You can find several great recipes and variations of this online and I highly encourage you to try it.
For lunches, I really enjoy making salad in a mason jar. Mason jars are the perfect serving size and you can make several different kinds of salads for the week this way. The mason jar is also a great way to transport and store the different salads.
For dinner, I really like making recipes with protein. That is why I usually make meatballs or sausage and try to have that a couple of times a week. On the days I don’t want to eat meat, I would most likely have rice or couscous.
It is really easy to batch cook things like rice or couscous and I definitely recommend batch cooking for as many things as possible when meal prepping. All you have to do is cook large portions of the food you are going to be eating throughout the week at once when you meal prep and you take however much you want of it each day. You can batch cook a bunch of different kinds of food like chicken, chickpeas, tuna, rice, etc and then use it when you want throughout the week.
Lastly, a snack that I love to take to campus with me is trail mix. You can make a few different kinds of trail mix at the start of the week and include different mixes of nuts, chocolate chips, raisins, dried cranberries, or chocolate. This will allow you to have a variety of different mixes throughout the week.