The summer heat has come to an end.
The days of beaches, boardwalks, and bonfires have burned out.
Yes, it is that time of year again.
And no, I’m not talking about the reappearance of much loved fashion fall trends~ burgundies, browns, beiges~ lined up on the display of your favorite stores.
I’m talking about college. Yes I said it: the “c” word.
Summer days have drifted away and we’ve said hello to move-in vans, new semesters, and above all, the DREADED college food scene.
Now, don’t get me wrong.
Who isn’t yearning for those tender, melt-in-your mouth burritos from Chipotle with a dab of fresh guacamole and crisply baked in house tortilla chips?
Or perfectly golden late night cafeteria Belgian waffles drizzled with warm maple syrup and topped with the aromatic smell of sizzling, crunchy turkey bacon?
That glorious banquet of feasts we call college food certainly does leave our taste buds watering. BUT, it also leaves our minds with two lingering, pestering, thoughts:
FRESHMAN 15 and $ MONEY $
We are college students; money and weight conscious college students. With demanding work schedules, mountainous lists of organizations to join, and stressful mid terms, sometimes easy grab and go places like the cafeteria and Chipotle seem like the ONLY option. Cooking up your own healthy meal and having a scrumptious bite between classes is a distant dream. In fact, let’s be real, it’s an impossible task!
But you know what’s hidden in impossible? I’M-POSSIBLE
So how do you balance the convenience of affordable meals with nutrition AND still keep it delicious? Two words my friends: meal prep.
If there is anything college has taught me, it’s the importance of time management. And let me tell you, meal prepping is one of the most convenient ways to save time, save money, and grab foods that are not only nutritious, but also delicious and packed with flavor!
If you’re thinking to yourself “Sign me up!” Then you’re in luck! Just follow these three easy steps to succeed in Meal Prep 101:
1. Create a menu
One of the most important, thus fittingly the initial step for effective meal prepping, is menu creation. The trick is to design a personalized menu that will excite and satisfy your taste buds, without the added pounds (both money and weight-wise). It’s important to make sure that you’re creating menus to fuel your body with all the important nutrients, vitamins, and energy you need to be successful.
When it comes to your menu, it’s a lot easier to divide it into 5-6 small meals/day. This method helps you to avoid unhealthy snacking, random binging acts, and is great for preventing bloating by easing your digestion.
Make sure to have a balance of healthy fats, carbohydrates, vegetables, and protein in each meal. Nutrition is all about balance! A great way to do this is to write a list of all of the healthy fats, carbohydrates, and protein you like and mix and match!
Fats: avocado, almond butter, olive oil, hummus
Carbs: sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa
Vegetables: whatever your heart and stomach desires (carrots, green beans, kale)
Protein: Chicken breast, salmon, tofu
2. Pick your new go to meal prep day
Sometimes to save time, you need to put time in! Dedicating a few hours for one day to meal prep is worth it! Think of all the time (and $$$) you can save during the week if you don’t need to worry about where and what your next meal will be.
Simply pick a day during the week that’s the most feasible for you to dedicate a good 1-2 hours for cooking and preparing your foods. For some reason, a lot of people tend to go for Sundays. Make sure to go grocery shopping for all the ingredients you will need based on your menu!
3. Cook, Store, and Go!
It’s that time of the week: meal prep day! Take the time to prepare and cook all the foods you will need for the week or for the amount of days you plan to meal prep for. Make sure to invest in some good Tupperware. I recommend buying brands that are BPA free, affordable, and microwave safe! Check out stores nearby you such as Giant, Walmart, Target, etc. Once cooked, package all your food in ready-to-go portions and pop it in your fridge or pantry.
“You don’t need a new year to make a change, all you need is a Monday”
(Or in our case a meal prep Sunday!)
Here are two quick, affordable, and tasty beyond belief ideas for your meal prep. Take it from me; they are convenient, nutritious, and oh so delicious!
Meal prepped smoothies? Yes, that’s right! You heard it from us here! Grab some ziplock bags and get fancy and creative with playful combinations of fruits, vegetables, and greens. Once you’re done, simply pop it in your freezer. It’s that simple!
My two favorite combinations:
Banana, almond butter, spinach, and oats
Mango, blueberries, kale, avocado, and flax seeds
Are you craving something savory like a salad? Or how about something to satisfy that sweet tooth like a yogurt parfait? Have no fear mason jars are here! Mason jars are the perfect meal prep tool to layer all your favorite flavor combinations in the convenience of a jar- and hey, it looks super pretty and tastes great too!
Salad recipe: spinach, carrots, diced cucumbers, raspberries, mango, hemp seeds
Parfait recipe: greek yogurt, fresh berries, organic granola, mixed nuts, honey drizzle
So…healthy dorm room dining? With these tips, you can feel confident knowing you’ve got it covered!
Jessy Rosen is a student at Johns Hopkins University.