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Nov 21 2017
by Zehra Naqvi

The College Student's Guide to Meal Prepping

By Zehra Naqvi - Nov 21 2017
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Sometimes it seems impossible to take care of life aspects that don't involve academics or extracurriculars. However, we should aim to make our health just as important. Not only will you feel better and have more energy, but you will also avoid future health issues. Meal prepping is one way to maintain your health, in addition to helping your bank account and your crammed schedule.

Though meal prepping has a stigma for only those who are lifting or on hardcore diets, it's actually not too stressful or strict. It's just preparing for weekly meals, which tend to be more nutritious and less processed than microwavable meals or fast food. The following guidelines are for college students who might not have full kitchens, a lot of time or a large grocery budget.

Getting Started

Choose a day

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Pick one day to prep for all your meals. Have containers or jars that are microwave safe and reusable. Keep this meal prep day consistent, in addition to blocking out a certain amount of time on your calendar. This will force you to be more dedicated to making your meals. In fact, spending three hours on one day is better than spending one to two hours each day during the week to just get your meal.

Grocery Shopping

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Try your best to get items in bulk for a week span. All the money you spend for meal prep will ultimately save you from the constant spending of $7+ per meal or time wasted going to the dining hall. For instance, you can have one or two protein options with a pack of fresh tricolor bell peppers, or buy a large mixed frozen vegetable package for a whole week.

Food Ingredients for All Meals

Breakfast Prep 

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Unfortunately, the most important meal of the day is also the most rushed and underrated as a college student. Many just grab a granola bar or just skip the meal altogether. Options for this meal can range from a protein-packed breakfast wrap to oats with fresh fruits. Having possibly no access to an oven, it is common but not limited for most breakfast prep to have oats and fruit. Here are a few examples:

Overnight Oats - 5 New Recipes

Main Ingredients: Fruit, Chia Seeds, Almond Milk and Oat Meal

Grab and Go Gluten-Free Breakfast Wraps (3 Ways)

Main Ingredients: Tortilla, Granola, Peanut Butter, Yogurt (Greek or Coconut) and Fruit

Lunch & Dinner Ingredients

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The goal is to be colorful with fruits, veggies and protein with starches here and there. There are tons of options for each category, making your meals less repetitive. Also, many of these items can be bought in bulk and last for a week. Below are a few recipes:

Pesto Chicken and Veggie Meal Prep 

Main Ingredients:  Tomatoes, Green Beans, and Chicken

Grilled Veggie & Black Bean Meal Prep Bowls

Main Ingredients: Various Veggies & Black Beans

Make Room In The Fridge

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A bunch of containers take up room. Most college students have small fridges, so it might be convenient to prepare meals before you leave. If the veggies are cut, as well as your protein prepared, you can quickly put everything in a container in under 10 minutes. In fact, if you use small mason jars to not take up so much fridge space, you would only need to prep for your other meals in the morning.

Honestly, the hardest part of meal prep is the dedication and determination of doing the action, itself. Getting the ingredients and setting aside the time may seem easy at first but the next couple times get tiring. But when you do weekly meal prep, you'll be thanking yourself throughout the week.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Zehra Naqvi - University of California, Berkeley

UC Berkeley Student | Staff Writer | Politics Writer

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