A guide to meal prepping

Tips to plan your food in advance

Meal prepping can save you trips home and food costs.
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Despite its reputation as a food strategy for gym aficionados and mothers of four, meal prepping—making portable meals to eat throughout the week—is an inexpensive and healthy choice that makes your life easier.
 
Whether you are trying to save some money, want to eat healthier, or are just sick of CoGro bagels, here are some tips to get you started. 
 

Do what works for your schedule

You don’t need to plan and prepare every single meal for a week if that doesn’t suit your lifestyle. 
 
If you’re going to be on campus during the day, plan lunches ahead of time. If you have some night classes, pack dinner so you don’t have to run home in the middle of the day to avoid inevitably falling asleep and missing your class.
 
If you’re always hungry in the mornings but never have time to eat before class, try making overnight oats or mini frittatas to throw in your bag and eat during class. You can also plan times to eat out, especially if that’s what you like to do with  your friends.
 
If you can only sit in Stauffer for three hours while mindlessly snacking, plan ahead and bring some snacks.
 

Make a plan 

Planning what you’re going to make, how many servings you’re making, and when you’ll eat each dish is integral to meal prepping. To avoid losing time being overwhelmed in Metro, this should be done before you even step into the grocery store. Knowing exactly  how much you need to buy  is a great way to ensure you use everything you purchase and avoid wasting food.
 
Depending on your goals, looking at grocery store flyers for deals and coupons may be a great way to decide what you’ll base your meals around. Flipp, for example, is an app that lets you browse flyers in your area to see what will be on sale the coming week. 
 
Another benefit of planning is you can actually be aware of the nutrients you’re putting in your body. By organizing ahead of time, you can measure the macronutrients in your food to ensure you’re getting enough protein or meeting your caloric requirements for the day.
 

Buy the gear

You’ll need containers to hold the food you prepare—and a bag to hold those containers. I encourage Tupperware over plastic bags, as it’ll ultimately save you money and create less waste. Dollarama and Dollartree sell BPA-free containers in a variety of sizes. You can also buy sets of 16 Rubbermaid Tupperwares from Walmart for about $10.

If you want to bring meals to campus with you, consider purchasing a lunch bag and a few ice packs to ensure your food stays fresh. If you’re only going to be out of the house for a few hours, feel free to use a small reusable bag; if you’ll be out for most of the day, I suggest buying an insulated bag.

Try to avoid basic meals

No one wants to eat the same meal every day for a week, but buying in bulk or family size is often the easiest and most cost-efficient way to shop. To avoid eating the same thing, dress up your meals differently. Consider you’re make a big dish of chicken breast. You can serve the chicken differently by serving it with rice, or making a chicken caesar salad, or chicken fajitas.

 

Quick tips

Locate microwaves on campus to heat up your food—there are some at the Law lounge in John A. Macdonald Hall, the first floor of Botterall, and a few in the JDUC.

The freezer is your best friend: you can freeze almost anything and cook it later. If a recipe calls for a bit of fresh herbs, freeze them to save for your next recipe. If you start running out of cooking ideas, use the internet. Websites like Tasty, Spoon University and Bon Appetite have a variety of recipes to pick from.

And always remember, if you really mess up a dish, there’s nothing that soy or tomato sauce can’t save.

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