College may seem like all fun and games until you realize you have to cook three meals a day for yourself! It may seem super scary at first, but meal prepping may reduce your stress and time spent in the kitchen.
You may be wondering, “what’s the appeal of meal prepping in college?” You’re busy juggling school work, a social life, and maybe even a job, so why would you want to add another item to your to-do list? “I honestly started meal prepping to save time during the semester so that when I have a busy work or school day, I don’t need to worry about cooking a whole meal. I have an already prepared and yummy meal to go,” said Caroline Guterres, a junior nursing major.
Meal prepping takes time to master. “Meal prepping is a basic skill that all individuals should have and the benefits of meal prepping are that it allows you to plan and have at hand foods or meals that are healthy or nutritious. It allows you to not do impulsive eating that is both expensive and frequently unhealthy,” said Dr. Mira Mehta, the director of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Program at the University of Maryland.
Meal kit services also are super helpful for college students. “I’m actually a pretty lazy cooker, but I value healthy eating, which is how I got into HelloFresh. Me and my roommate split three meals a week for $30 each and they send you all the materials and directions for it. It’s kind of like cooking with training wheels,” said Sydney O’Rourke, a senior kinesiology major. Meal prepping saves you a lot of time by allowing you to cook one or a couple of different meals at once. Try choosing your least busy day of the week, whether that’s Sunday or a class-free day. “I usually cook a large portion of one meal and turn it into three meals to eat throughout my week. I still love to cook, so I’ll plan a night or two per week where I’m still cooking a meal,” said Guterres. Use reusable meal containers to divide up your meals and keep your leftovers fresh in your refrigerator.
What are some healthy and delicious meals you could meal prep? “Right now one of my favorite meals to prep is just grilled chicken sausage with oven roasted bell peppers, zucchini, onions and mushrooms! So yummy and healthy all in one,” said Guterres. Throw some core food groups together and you get a great meal. “I usually grill some chicken up...and throw it on top of some rice or mixed greens and add some dressing onto it for a nutritious salad with some fruit on the side,” said O’Rourke.
Check out the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “MyPlate” which is a simple tool that was developed to help people with planning and cooking healthy foods that fit into one’s diet. There should be five different compartments to your meals: two parts fruits and vegetables, one part healthy grains, one part healthy protein and one serving of dairy on the side.