By: Sarah Frazier ’16, University Health Center Dietetic Student Volunteer
Transitioning from dorm life to apartment life is often difficult for commuter Terps. Among many changes includes cooking for yourself when you once only needed to choose from what was being served in the dining halls. Lunches can pose a special challenge because they require preparing ahead a time. The key is just a little bit of meal planning.
The campus dietitian always tells us “if you let food just happen, it’s a recipe for disaster.” Meal planning is an essential skill in creating healthy meals for yourself when living in an apartment or a house off campus.
Taking just a few minutes the night before to think about how long you’re going to be out of the house, when you’re going to have opportunities to eat, and what you’re going to eat is a good place to start! Some people choose to take some time during the weekend to write down what they plan to prepare throughout the week and even get some meals cooked ahead of time.
Meeting with a Dietetic Student Intern at the Diet Analysis office is a great way to get the resources needed to make nutritious choices when cooking for yourself and packing lunches as a commuter Terp.
Here are some of the methods I use as a commuter Terp to make sure I am packing nutritious lunches to take with me:
- I like to make extra portions of my dinner to pack for lunch the next day. For example, I’ll make rice and beans for dinner and after I serve myself, I immediately put the leftovers in containers so they are ready for lunch the next day
- On the weekends, I’ll often make a big casserole and portion it out for my lunches throughout the week
- I always make sure to save a few minutes out of my evening to make sure I have my breakfast, coffee, and lunch ready to go for the next day. That way, I don’t have to scramble in the morning and risk forgetting my lunch
- If I make more soup than I can eat in a week, I’ll freeze the rest and save it for emergencies, like a particularly busy week or a day when I’m under the weather and don’t feel like cooking.
- BONUS TIP: Always make sure you pack enough food to sustain you all day. I always pack a few extra snacks just in case. If I don’t eat them all, I just save them for the next day!
Preparation and meal planning can be the difference between missing out on food groups and getting a well balanced, nutritious meal. So make it a goal to do a little meal planning this week and consider making a free Diet Analysis appointment with a Dietetics Student Intern at the University Health Center today!