Save time, spend less with meal prep tips
From busy college students to health nuts and athletes, everyone can benefit from a little meal prep. Instead of being a slave to the stove every night, picking up and cooking all of your meals on Sunday will save you so much time throughout the week. Less time spent thinking about meals is more time spent tending to responsibilities and having fun, and it’ll eliminate your savage spending habits. You’ll start saving money from all the post-class Panera trips and Starbucks breakfast-sandwich runs. So stop making your tired meal prep jokes — just try it out.
Simple breakfast on the go
In the morning, you may need to just grab something quick from your house before you drive 20 minutes to College Avenue, where you’ll spend 5 hours for classes. Maybe you live on campus but simply need to fuel up for your 3-hour morning class — not everyone has the luxury of 1:10 p.m. classes four days a week. Whatever your case is, you can make something filling, speedy and sweet.
If you like bananas and peanut butter, put a toast on it (kind of). A piece of toast or a basic rice cake topped with a spreaded dollop of peanut butter, banana coins and a dash of cinnamon is a simple 5-minute breakfast that can easily be slipped into a to-go baggie. You can eat it easily and mess-free. Almond butter and cashew butter are good substitutions for plain peanut butter if you’re feeling fancy.
Another option is a DIY yogurt parfait. You can make enough of these to last you a whole week, just assemble them and pop them into your fridge. All the recipe calls for is creamy Greek yogurt, oats, a splash of milk and layers of your favorite frozen fruits. Once they’re made, you’ll have a nutritious breakfast waiting for you every day.
Snag a snack for class or the library
If your professor approves of you having a little in-class bite, if your class is composed of hundreds of people in a casual lecture-hall setting or if you’re headed to Alexander Library, pack a snack. The options are endless, and your choice depends upon your tastes.
A sensible choice is a batch of trail mix — almonds, other nuts and raisins make a good trail mix. Don’t be tempted to make your mix heavy with chocolate morsels, but a little cocoa never hurt anybody. You can follow a recipe of your choice and throw in chocolate-covered coffee beans to get a caffeine fix, maybe add a few coconut chips to it. Make enough to last five days worth of classes and you’re set.
The vegetable tray may not be your first stop at the Super Bowl snack table — buffalo chicken dip exists — but veggie sticks and dip is a good, tasty snack in a crunch. Just cut up your choice of veggies. Just throw carrots, cucumber, peppers and asparagus in a plastic baggie or Tupperwear and pop in a few cherry tomatoes for some earthy sweetness. For a dip, make a delicious green goddess dressing, and if not, ranch dressing is classic.
You can even make a homemade, no-bake granola bar — there are tons of recipes online. But if you’re not looking to put in a lot of effort, bananas and apples are quick and easy.
Dinner in a dash
When you think of meal prepping, your mind often zeroes in on dinner, and it’s probably something like chicken, broccoli and quinoa. Meal prepping doesn’t have to be that boring, though a chicken dinner five days a week is sensible and attainable: There are so many options. You can easily make enough pasta to last you for the week. Store in in individual, portioned containers, topped with bolognese, pesto or a butter sauce.
Something better is a savory chili made as spicy as you’d like. Chili is actually super healthy — crafted almost exclusively from fruits and vegetables, and it’s packed with healthy carbohydrates and protein. Cook it once and your dinners for the week are all set.
Another option is to make mason jar salads for the week. The creation of them is very straightforward, but in doing this, be sure to put the dressing on the bottom to save yourself from soggy butter lettuce. Once you have the format down, create your favorite salad for the week or spice it up in small ways if you’d like, to keep your meals interesting. Not to mention this dish is a Pinterest-worthy, “Instagrammable” dream.
Stir-fry is veggie-heavy, but the “fry” part can make even the crunchiest of scary veggies delicious. Heaps of seasoning will help the veggie-averse, too. Add chicken, tofu or whatever protein source that gets you excited to it. Serve it on top of lush pile of rice and you have a meal for the week that’ll keep you strong.
To help your budget and time goals as a college student, try incorporating simple meal prepping into your Sunday schedule.