Put some pep in your meal prep

Tips for how to start meal prepping

Allison Vanderzanden | Lifestyle Editor

Having access to regular healthy meals can be difficult for college students; healthy ingredients can be expensive, and dorm living does not always offer the necessary amenities for homestyle cooking. However, meal prepping offers a great way to save money and eat delicious meals more regularly. Here are some ideas and tips to help get started.

Set aside enough time to make meals; this will depend on how many meals are cooked at once and could take up to a couple hours. Meals can be made for the next three to six days, depending on budget and refrigerator storage space. Collect enough plastic or glass containers or Ziploc bags to store each meal. If possible, buy ingredients in bulk to save money.

If a stove and oven are not accessible, pick foods that can be cooked in a microwave, are precooked or don’t need cooking at all. Potatoes, pasta, rice, quinoa and frozen vegetables are just a few foods that can be prepared in a microwave. Canned meats don’t need any cooking, and rotisserie chicken can be pulled apart and refrigerated for up to four days.

Keep in mind, certain foods will keep better in the fridge than others. Salads keep for about a week, especially when dressing and wet ingredients are layered at the bottom and greens at the top. Quinoa stays good for about a week as well, while rice and cooked potatoes and vegetables can be eaten for about four days. However, if a freezer is accessible, meals can be prepped and kept for much longer — anywhere from two to four weeks.

As for recipes to try, salads are easily customizable and add some variety to a set of meals. Burrito bowls are another meal with lots of choices available. Loaded baked potatoes, or sweet potatoes, are perfectly proportioned on their own for a lunch. If the means are available to cook soups, stews or ramen, there are many different recipes to choose from. For breakfasts, oats, parfaits and wraps are great options.

If this is the first time trying meal prepping, start small with just lunches or dinners, or only prepare a few days at a time. Don’t feel discouraged if a week is missed; as it becomes part of a regular routine, meal prep will get easier.

Contact the author at avanderzanden19@mail.wou.edu

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