When I first made the decision to stop eating fast food, I realized quite quickly how time-consuming it is to prepare healthy meals.
I’m not saying I’m the only busy college student who ever lived. I’m sure there are plenty of people who eat very healthy and are much more strapped for time. Time isn’t the only issue; it’s the motivation.
For me, the motivation has been the biggest hinderance to healthy eating. Getting up and going to a gym when I’m cozy in bed watching “Gilmore Girls” is hard enough. Now I have to force myself to spend 25 minutes making dinner?
That’s why I learned the importance of meal prepping. I take about an hour and a half each Sunday to prepare food I know I will use throughout the week. This is my meal-prep day.
I have a few tips for you to begin making your week of healthy eating much easier.
1. Get organized. This is the first step to everything. Whether it be on Pinterest, Tumblr or an old-fashioned piece of paper, write down what you want to eat and how you want to prepare it. For example, do you drink smoothies for breakfast and eat a salad for lunch? Evaluate your meal choices and write them down so you know what must be prepared and with what ingredients and supplies. Writing down your plan will be key.
2. Get the materials. Now that you know what you plan on eating for the week, go get it. This will save time, too. If you make grocery shopping day the same each week and prepare your food immediately after, it gives a greater sense of accomplishment and makes it seem like less of a chore throughout the week. While you’re getting your food, make sure you have containers. You’ll need an assortment of sizes for the different things you’ll prepare.
3. Prep time. You have your food and containers—now it’s time to start cooking, chopping and preparing.
Smoothies: My best advice is to wash the fruit and veggies you’ll include and pack them in a plastic, resealable bag. You could also put them in mason jars or regular plastic containers. If you are including any leafy greens in your smoothie, add them last. The fruit will stay fresher at the bottom, washed and cut into chunks or sliced into small pieces. Labeling a smoothie bag with the ingredients is also helpful. This way, if you would like to add things like chia seeds or protein powder, the label on the bag can indicate this. I also store my smoothie bags near my yogurt in the refrigerator.
Tip: You could go the extra mile and grab your favorite flavored yogurt and freeze it in ice cube trays. This little amount is perfect to add to the smoothie bag and blends just like an ice cube, but it makes your smoothie creamy.
Snacks: Grab a small container and a couple of your favorite small and filling items. I like to cut up fruit, grilled tofu and veggies. These are the perfect snacking items, and preparing them ahead of time makes grabbing them on-the-go much easier. Finding plastic containers with multiple compartments gives you the opportunity to create an easy-to-grab snack assortment.
Dinner: This meal is the best to have prepared items for. Making a healthy dinner after a long day can seem like such a chore, but if you prepare essential parts beforehand, you’ll be able to eat sooner. I always prepare rice, quinoa, tofu and veggies for the week on meal-prep day. For dinner, I eat a lot of stir-fry. Having cooked rice and quinoa on hand makes the cooking process much quicker. By placing these items in a container and storing them for the week, I feel more motivated to make healthy dinners to finish my day.
These are just a few tips for meal prepping, but what you make depends completely on what you like. Cooking any kind of meal can be time consuming, and any little bit of time saved can help.