By: Avital Schwartz, ’17, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator
What is “meal prep”?
You may already be familiar with what this means from Buzzfeed videos, magazines, or other familiar places, but for those who don’t know, the basic idea of meal prep is preparing multiple meals at once, and then storing them for easy, fast use on other days.
What are the advantages to meal prep?
Well, for one, you can eat more meals at home, without taking the time to prepare the whole thing when you get out of class in the evening. Eating meals at home means you know what’s in them, and they are more likely to be healthier than the same meal out at a restaurant.
Now, the more important question is not “why is meal prep a nice idea”? But, “how can I make meal prep easy”?
That, is a good question!
- Get some plastic, glass, or tinfoil pans/containers
- Write down a list of easy, yummy recipes that you won’t mind eating a couple times a week or month
- Make a shopping list for what you will need, and make it detailed, with amounts, and then, shop!
- Pick a Sunday or evening when you have some time to spare, and prepare the food
- Freeze or refrigerate what you have made in breakfast/lunch/dinner sized portions
- Take it out any day you want, and enjoy!
I realize that may sound a little less than easy, so another approach is:
- Get some containers
- When you do prepare food, of any kind, just make double or triple the portion. For example, you are making rice and beans for dinner, make 2 cups of rice instead of a half cup, and then pack up the rest in the containers
- Eat the remaining portions over the rest of the week
That sounds much easier. And in fact, it takes virtually no extra time.
Now, if you want to attempt to make a little bit more, here are some ideas of foods that freeze well, and are easy to make.
- Lasagna: your shopping list only needs noodles, tomato sauce, cottage cheese, shredded cheese, and whatever veggies you want to add. That’s it, 5 ingredients, and it takes 5 minutes to layer up.
- Soup: any kind works! Example: orange soup. All you need is sweet potato, butternut squash, and carrots, with a little garlic and season salt. Another 5 ingredients, and there is very little prep involved.
- Quiche: This sounds fancy, but you can take eggs, mayo, onions, mushrooms, and onion soup mix powder, and make a veggie quiche that can stay in the freezer for months. And, only another 5 ingredients!
- Chicken/meat/fish: Season, cook, and freeze any of these, and pop them into the microwave when you want to have dinner—easy as pie. Plus with a larger pan, you can make many pieces at the same time, but can still put them in individual baggies or containers. There are so many more possibilities, and for inspiration you can search recipe websites or images. But, the point is, meal prep can be simple, convenient, and healthy. You can also order all the groceries you need straight to your door in College Park using such services as Indibulk. This eliminates a whole other step!
Whether you have tried meal prep before, or have only just heard of it, it’s can be a great way to save time and eat more consciously.
In the comments below let me know what your favorite meal prep recipes are!
To learn more about how to make meal prep easy, reserve your session with a Nutrition Coach today by calling 301-314-5664 or emailing NutritionCoach@umd.edu.