As you scroll through Instagram or binge TikTok for longer than we would all like to say, odds are you have come across meal prepping in your feed. While it seems so cool to make aesthetically pleasing meals every week, it can be a little daunting if you have no clue what you’re doing. However, that’s perfectly OK! The beauty of meal prepping is that the busier you are, the handier it is!
MEAL PREPPING VS MEAL PLANNING
What’s important to know is the difference between meal prepping and meal planning. With meal prepping, you are physically making pre-made meals for you to enjoy throughout the week. Meal planning is simply writing out what you would like to make for the week but not actually making anything. You may ask yourself what if I don’t know what to make? What if I don’t have the time? What if I don’t have the facilities to make food? These are all things we’re going to address to turn you from eating whatever you have around into a full-fledged meal prepper.
ESTABLISHING A PLAN
As a college student, meal prepping will most likely be the most planned part of your week so you must tailor it to your specific needs. What you need to ask yourself is what type of diet are you looking to go for: Weight loss, bulking, high protein, low carb, etc. Don’t be afraid to try “healthier” options too! We all love a good bowl of ramen every so often and there’s no reason you can’t keep enjoying that. However, if you create a simple habit of eating healthy meals for lunch, it makes room for enjoying some indulgent foods later. Once you establish this plan you already did the hardest part!
We’re all balling on a budget here at college and those shoes you’ve been looking at online for a week, odds are you’re going to make an impulse purchase. With meal prepping you can always anticipate the same weekly cost! A very simple way to execute a consistent budget is to look at your weekly grocery bill as a factor and then decide how much you would want to be spending per week solely on breakfasts, lunches, dinner, etc.
The good ol’ dorm life. Love it or hate it, there’s no doubt you wouldn’t mind having something besides dining hall food for once. Meal prepping in a dorm can be much easier than you would think! One thing to take advantage of is using the dining hall/res hall kitchens. So many students never take advantage of this and it’s a great way to practice your cooking skills before you move off-campus. Although, if you’re not comfortable with doing this you still have so many options! The microwave is going to be your best friend in this case. When working in small quarters it’s very easy to have too many cooks in the kitchen. Ideally, for dorms what you want to do is not cook your meals ahead of time but instead, have all the ingredients ready to go so, all you have to do is put them in the microwave and you’re golden!
Living off-campus is going to be your best bet for making those Instagram-worthy aesthetic meals. Having access to a full kitchen is going to make your meal prep a breeze. Unlike dorm-style living where you mainly just prep your ingredients to be cooked later, for off-campus living you can cook all of your food ahead of time and you have lots more options. One recommendation I have though is to see if you can put your prepped meals in a separate refrigerator. A small mini fridge works great for this! This allows you to have a quick grab-and-go option and won’t leave your roommates angry at you for taking up so much fridge space.
What do some meal prep examples look like? It all depends on what you like! However, I have found these to stay fresh in the fridge and taste great!
- Overnight Oats
- Breakfast Burrito
- Egg Muffins
- Honey Sesame Chicken Bowls
- Chicken Fajita Bowls
- Greek Chicken Wraps
- Ground Turkey Stir Fry
- Cheeseburger Meatloaf
- Spaghetti and Roasted Vegetables
- Meal Prepping is as hard as you make it
- Stick to the basics
- Pick a day when you don’t have much to do
- Create a budget
- Set goals for yourself
- HAVE FUN!
The next time you try to meal prep, remember that you’re not Gordon Ramsey so don’t be afraid if it doesn’t come out perfect. Send a picture to your parents and show them that you can actually make more than a bowl of cereal and remember to have fun! Now go take the step and start meal prep!