How to Meal Prep as a College Student
As a college student, you may find yourself busy and budgeting. With the workload of school and maintaining a social life, it can be difficult to have the time to work. If you are trying to be frugal with the money you made over the summer until you are finished with the school year, saving money on your meals can make a huge difference. One of the easiest ways to save time and money on food is to prepare meals.
What is Meal Prepping?
Meal prepping is planning out and preparing the meals you are going to eat over a certain period of time, usually throughout one week. Meal prepping is a great way to save money and time, so it is ideal for busy college students. It also removes one of the decisions you have to make each week. You don’t have to worry about coming up with breakfast, lunch, dinner, or all three each day, because it is already prepared and ready to go.
Not all meal preps are the same, for example, you may prepare your meals so they are ready to eat right out of the fridge. However, you can also prepare meals that have to be cooked a little bit, this way you save time from all of the preparation, and still get a hot meal to enjoy. Whichever way you choose to meal prep it will save you time and ensure you are getting all of the nutrients you need.
Negative Aspects of Meal Prep
Meal prepping is a very useful way to plan your meals in college, but it also has some drawbacks. When you meal prep you want to be very conscious about how much food you are preparing each week and make sure you can eat it all before it goes bad. If the food sits in your refrigerator for too long it can spoil, which is a waste of your time and money.
Meal prepping can also make you feel restricted. If you have planned out every meal for the entire week, you will probably feel obligated to eat everything you have prepared, but this can leave little room for flexibility. You may have to skip plans to go out to eat with friends and family to finish the food you already made. If you know you enjoy meeting up with friends for a meal once a week, you can skip a few meals in your planning to leave room for any spontaneity.
Meal preparation is only beneficial if you make use of all of the meals, so don’t make more than you need and leave room for fun meals too.
How to Meal Prep
Being in college may limit the tools and kitchen supplies that you have at your disposal, so you’ll first want to take inventory of everything you have. You’ll also want to consider how much space you have to prepare your meals. Many people start meal prepping and stop soon after because it can be an adjustment, especially if you don’t have a lot of space or equipment to work with.
When you first start meal prepping, don’t bite off more than you can chew. It can be helpful to start by prepping one meal for the week, or two meals for a few days until you have a better idea of what is and is not going to work.
After you have determined what supplies, equipment, and space you have, you can look for recipes you want to try. Keep in mind that if you don’t have the right equipment you may want to pick a new recipe. For example, if your recipe requires baking but you do not have an oven, you can search for “no bake recipes” instead.
Now that you’ve chosen some recipes it is time to go shopping. One way you can save money and time is to use the same ingredients in multiple recipes. For example, you can season and cook one kind of meat in different ways to create different meals. This will also help prevent you from getting bored throughout the week.
You want to make sure that your meals contain the proper nutrients, so including lots of vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates is important for a balanced diet. Health is important, but you don’t want to make a bunch of food you are going to dread eating. Stick to foods you know you are going to like, but don’t be afraid to try some new ingredients or techniques.
Jenn Walker is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beach goer operating out of Southern New Jersey. She writes for a bankruptcy lawyer in Philadelphia.