Busy college students are always on the go. Between classes, meetings, homework and studying, we barely have time to eat, let alone cook delicious, healthy meals every night.
Dining halls typically provide a wide variety of healthy options and are easy to access while living in residence halls. However, once you move into an apartment off-campus, preparing healthy food becomes a challenge. But cooking and eating healthy meals as a college student doesn’t have to be difficult. Why? Because of meal-prepping.
“Meal-prepping” (short for meal-preparation) involves cooking all of your food for the week on one day (usually Sunday), then storing it in air-tight containers and reheating it for the rest of the week’s meals.
Though it takes a bit of planning and preparing ahead of time, meal-prepping saves busy college students so much time throughout the week. Keep reading for five tips that will help any college student with meal-prepping healthy food.
PICK A GOOD TIME
The key to good meal-prepping is to set aside enough time to plan, shop and prepare at the beginning of the week. Usually, the best days to meal-prep are Saturdays or Sundays, when your busy schedule dies down a bit and you likely have a couple of hours to spare.
This way, you can knock out shopping and preparing all of your food at the same time, and gain back more time during your busy week to cross more items off of your never-ending to-do list.
MAKE A PLAN
Before heading to the grocery store to stock up on ingredients for your healthy meals, figure out what you want to eat for the week. This includes breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks.
Check what you have on hand and scour the Internet for recipes – BuzzFeed Food and CHAARG are two of my favorites for quick, delicious and healthy meals. As a college student, keep your schedule for the week in mind – if you’ll be on the go the whole time, opt for meal-prepping healthy food that won’t go bad if you carry them around in your backpack all day.
Then, fill your grocery list with these ingredients and hit the store! Focus on lean proteins like chicken, fresh produce and whole grains, and less on processed snack foods.
This list will help you stay on track while shopping and ensure that you won’t stray to pick up junk food that doesn’t fit into your meal plan (or budget).
WASH, PEEL AND CHOP YOUR PRODUCE
Once you’re home from the grocery store, take ten minutes to put away all of your grocery items and wash and chop all of your fresh fruits and vegetables. These are the keys to meal-prepping healthy food for the week, as chances are they’re included in your recipes and are also excellent snack options.
Chopping up all of your peppers and broccoli on Sunday will make it much easier to throw together a quick salad or side dish when your life as a college student gets crazy and you have three meetings, two exams and a quiz on Wednesday.
Plus, it will keep your snacking on track. You’re more likely to reach for those peppers or some fresh berries for a snack if they’re already washed, cut and ready to go.
Now that you have all the ingredients, get to cooking! Look up your recipes again and start prepping, baking and pan-searing your healthy food. Make sure you’re cooking it all, so you have enough for the entire week.
Throw together a giant salad instead of making a smaller one each night. Cook five servings of brown rice instead of one. Bake all of your chicken breast instead of one at a time each night. This will save you so much time during the week – all it will take is the occasional minute in the microwave!
Once your prepping is finished, store all of your food in air-tight containers and put them in your refrigerator. Be sure you have easy access to them – when you’re hungry and looking for a snack, these visible and healthy food will help you stay on track with your snacking – and your busy schedule as a college student!
PUT YOUR MEALS TOGETHER
Now for the fun part: eating! Grab your healthy food from the fridge, throw it on a plate, heat it up in the microwave and enjoy! You can even take your meals on the go in your air-tight containers.
Repeat all week until it’s time to meal prep all over again!
Seriously, it’s that simple. Meal-prepping healthy food will allow you to maintain a more nutritious diet, but still eat delicious meals that fit your lifestyle as a busy college student. Switch up your recipes each week, or stick with your favorites.
A little planning ahead and a couple of hours during a weekend afternoon will save you hours during the week. Now, you can spend that extra time doing homework, studying, or maybe even relaxing!