Meal Prep, Made Easy

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!


  1. Get some plastic, glass, or tinfoil pans/containers
  2. Write down a list of easy, yummy recipes that you won’t mind eating a couple times a week or month
  3. Make a shopping list for what you will need, and make it detailed, with amounts, and then, shop!
  4. Pick a Sunday or evening when you have some time to spare, and prepare the food
  5. Freeze or refrigerate what you have made in breakfast/lunch/dinner sized portions
  6. Take it out any day you want, and enjoy!

I realize that may sound a little less than easy, so another approach is:

  1. Get some containers
  2. 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
  3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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

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Can Your Diet Be Too Healthy?

By: Emma Slattery, ’18, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator

Too healthy

You turn on the news, open Facebook, or read a magazine and are instantly bombarded by messages about food. You read that “apples are good, carbs are bad, you shouldn’t eat cake, cheese is bad for you, but salads are healthy”. The messages are everywhere and in black and white. Eat this and not that. One food is healthy and the other food is unhealthy. And we’re all trying to be healthy, right? These messages may cause you to start limiting the number of times you eat a food that’s deemed “unhealthy”, or you cut certain foods out of your diet altogether. You might start eating a few extra foods that are “healthy”. So what if you hate kale, it’s supposed to be healthy right? So you eat it anyway. You end up eating a lot of it. Little by little you start adopting more and more of these food rules on what you “should” and “shouldn’t” eat. And this makes your diet healthy, right?

Not exactly. The reality is that your diet CAN be too “healthy”. I put healthy in quotation marks because a healthy diet isn’t quite as cut and dry as people make it out to be. For example, there are certainly healthful foods. Broccoli is a healthful food that is high in fiber and tons of vitamins but eating a diet composed mainly of broccoli every day certainly is not healthy. This is because your body needs a wide variety of nutrients! If you can remember the 5 food groups; fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy; they’re grouped based on the nutrients they offer. Each food group represents a different class of nutrients and you need all of them in your diet. A “healthy diet” isn’t really healthy if you’re completely cutting out a food group because then you’re completely cutting out a group of essential nutrients that your body needs.

balanced diet

Additionally, no foods are truly “good” or “bad”. One or two (or even three or four) cookie will not kill you, it won’t make you gain weight or ruin your eating habits. The same goes for a brownie, a piece or cake, or French fries. Occasionally the pursuit of eating “healthy” can interfere with someone’s ability to enjoy the foods they love. And when the pursuit of healthy eating interferes with the ability to enjoy food, a pattern of disordered eating can emerge. Orthorexia nervosa is disordered eating characterized by an obsession with healthy eating. Ultimately a healthy diet shouldn’t interfere with your enjoyment of life. It’s about balancing your sweet foods, salty foods, fun foods in moderation with your healthful foods.

A few great tips for enjoying a healthful diet are to:

  • Eat mindfully in a relaxed environment
  • Enjoy a “fun food” today
  • Try a new food or recipe this week
  • Enjoy your favorite foods from each of the five food groups
  • Honor your hunger and fullness by eating when hungry and stopping when comfortably full

For more information on how to balance your diet, take advantage of the free Nutrition Coaching Service at the University Health Center. To reserve your session, call 301-314-5664 or email

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Lactose Intolerance: How to Enjoy Eating and Get the Calcium You Need

By: Ashley Statter, ‘18, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator

Calcium Image

Don’t let lactose intolerance stop you from getting your daily dose of calcium! Lactose intolerance is very common and often occurs as people age because the enzyme in our bodies that digests lactose can become less abundant. Many students in their teens, myself included, start noticing that dairy products are upsetting their stomach. If this is the case, don’t panic! It is simple to get all the nutrients you need and still enjoy your favorite foods by slightly altering your diet.

It is important to know that decreasing dairy intake puts individuals at risk for calcium deficiency. Calcium is most commonly known for promoting healthy bone and teeth growth, but it is also needed for every single muscle contraction you make! Calcium deficiency can lead to loss of bone strength, and eventually osteoporosis in old age. Follow these tips to make sure you are getting at least three servings of calcium rich food a day.

  1. Know your body. Everyone’s level of lactose intolerance is different. Some affected individuals can still enjoy a glass of milk or a small portion of cheese, while others cannot digest it at all. If you are able to eat dairy products in moderation, then go for it, but set reasonable limits for yourself. For instance, I know that I can tolerate one cheese stick or one scoop of ice cream, but anything exceeding that will make me sick.
  2. Purchase dairy alternatives. If you still want some milk in your cereal, no fear, there are lots of delicious dairy alternatives that you can purchase at most grocery stores. Almond milk, soymilk, cashew milk, and rice milk are all lactose free and fortified with calcium. There are also lots of vegan cheeses that are dairy free and they even make dairy free ice cream and yogurt. One of my personal favorite desserts is ice cream made from coconut milk!
  3. Eat dairy free foods that are naturally calcium rich or fortified. There are actually a lot of food that do not contain dairy but can add some calcium to your diet! However, it should be noted that these foods do not contain as much calcium as dairy products. If you struggle with getting your daily dose of calcium, try some of these:
    • Carrots, almonds, and oranges are easy snacks that you can eat at home or pack for on the go.
    • Canned salmon (with bones), tofu, and white beans are not only packed with protein, but they also provide a source of calcium.
    • Spinach, broccoli, bok choy, and kale are some calcium rich leafy greens
    • Calcium fortified cereals and orange juice can serve as a great breakfast, especially when paired with a lactose free milk option!
  4. Enjoy dairy products that are naturally low in lactose. This is not a drill fellow cheese enthusiasts. There are actually a lot of low lactose dairy products! So if you are able to tolerate small doses of lactose, give these a try!
    • Hard cheeses, such as cheddar, Swiss, and Parmesan are lower in lactose than soft cheeses like mozzarella and Brie.
    • Cheese made from goat or sheep’s milk, such as feta cheese and goat cheese.
    • Yogurt with live bacteria cultures can help your body digest the lactose.
    • Kefir, a fermented milk beverage similar to yogurt. It is often referred to as the “champagne of dairy.”
    • Lactose free cows milk.

Living with lactose intolerance is not always a walk in the park, but with a little knowledge and strategic planning it can be easily and healthily managed! Using the tips above, I survived six weeks in Switzerland – the land of cheese – last summer! I was able to try lots of new foods, including some of Switzerland’s famous cheeses and milk chocolates by knowing my limits and choosing the lowest lactose options. Food intolerances do not have to hinder the joy of eating or your health!

To learn more about healthy eating habits and diet accommodations, reserve your session with a Nutrition Coach today by calling 301-314-5664 or emailing


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Step Up Your Protein Game with Fish!

By: Rebecca Heming, ’18, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator


Many of us love eating protein sources like chicken, pork, and red meat. But, if you’re like me, fish doesn’t always end up on the plate. The current Dietary Guidelines recommends that we enjoy fish twice per week.  With only a little bit of effort, it’s easy to start including fish in your diet and begin reaping the benefits! Fish can be very inexpensive and easy to cook.

So let’s dig in!

5 Fabulous Benefits:

  1. Fish provides us with both vitamin D, which is needed to absorb calcium, build bones, and maintain bone health and strength, and omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3 fatty acids are great because they can:
    • Protect your heart from developing potential fatal cardiac arrhythmias
    • Lower blood pressure and heart rate
    • Improve blood vessel functions
    • Lower triglycerides
    • Reduce inflammation
    • Play a role in developing a baby’s brain and nervous system
  2. Eating fish can help reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by more than a third.
  3. Moderate evidence suggests that eating plans which contain fish can reduce obesity.
  4. Consuming fish may aid in muscle and immune system functions.
  5. By regularly eating fish, you may also protect yourself against cancer and osteoporosis.

Where to Find Fish:

  1. On Campus: You can find a variety of fish options throughout campus. Examples include:
    • At the South Campus Diner, find options like cod, salmon, and tilapia under Emma’s Special.
    • The Diner serves fish such as catfish, tilapia, and cod. Did you know, eating catfish helps restore the Chesapeake Bay?
    • Adele’s serves up both stuffed salmon and yummy grilled salmon skewers.
    • If you love sushi, you can pick some up at Sushi by Panda in the Stamp or at various cafes around campus like Rudy’s, Applause, Kim Kafe, and many others.
    • More of a fast food fan? Try a sandwich with tuna at Subway or a Filet-O-Fish at McDonalds!
  2. Off Campus: If you are not finding what you are looking for on campus, or just desire a change of scenery, several restaurants located near campus also serve up some great fish.
    • Fishnet
    • Terrapins Turf
    • Sir Walter Raleigh Inn
    • Sakura
    • Joe’s Crab Shack
    • Lastly, grocery stores sell canned tuna and salmon which can be incorporated into your meals or snacks!

Alternatives for Vegans and Non-Fish Lovers

Even if you don’t like fish or just choose not to consume it, you still need to get your vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet!  A couple of quick tips will have you on your way:

  • Look for fortified foods such as milk.
  • Try enriched foods like pastas, bread, cereal, flour, and oatmeal.
  • Find omega-3 fatty acids in nuts and seeds, such as walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed.
  • Vitamin D can be found in mushrooms, eggs yolks, and in fortified products.

What’s one strategy you can try this week to increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake?

To learn more about fish, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D, reserve your session with a Nutrition Coach today by calling 301-314-5664 or emailing

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5 Nutrition Hacks for Acing Your Finals

Thea Boatswain, ’18, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator

5 Nutrition Hacks for Finals Week

Finals is that stressful time during the semester where nothing else matters but studying and getting the grade. Unfortunately, that also means our diets may suffer.

Here are 5 nutrition hacks to eating healthy during finals week.

  1. Eat breakfast – I know, you hear this all the time. But breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.  Eating a well balanced breakfast can help you focus more and give you energy as well as vital nutrients to get through your day!
  2. Find ways to study without food – Although tempting, try not to study while eating. Mindless snacking is the easiest way to over eat.  Have you ever gone through an entire bag of chips and not even realized it? Instead try one of these:
    • Eat before studying
    • Take a planned study break to eat
    • Listen to music instead
    • Go to the library to be away from your dorm or kitchen
  3. Make snacks purposeful snacks – You’ll still need to continue to fuel your body so having snacks available to keep you from making impulsive food choices is important. Here in the nutrition coaching office we call them purposeful snacks. This means that you can pair a carbohydrate source (like grains or fruits) with a protein source (such as nuts, soy, meat, or dairy) when eating those snacks. This will help you be satisfied longer and provide you with beneficial nutrients to fuel your day. Examples include:
    • Whole grain crackers and cheese
    • Banana and peanut butter
    • Granola and yogurt
    • Whole grain pita chips and turkey slices
  4. Make peace with your food – Don’t beat yourself up because you have an order of French fries late night one day. “Fun foods” wont derail all the the wonderful progress you’ve made with your healthy eating plan. These fun foods can still be enjoyed but in moderation. The fries were good, weren’t they? Then why feel bad about eating it? Instead, you can tell yourself that although you had a great time eating them, then maybe this time you can try to have something less greasy and more nutritious. Its all about balance.  Now, can you think of something you like to eat that’s not greasy as a fries or chips?  Mine is a quick turkey sandwich with fruit! Yum!
  5. Water is key – Keeping well hydrated is extremely important to keep focused. Water helps you with basic body functions such as alertness. One sign of dehydration is drowsiness and memory fog. See why drinking enough water is so important?  For example: a 120 pound person should be drinking at least 60 ounces (7.5 cups) of water. Buy or bring a water bottle with you and fill it up often.


Sign up for nutrition coaching.  Make an appointment with a Nutrition Coach  here in the Health Center. We are here to help you make and work toward your nutrition goals. You can make an appointment by calling 301-314-5664 or emailing


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