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The do’s and don’ts of meal-prepping

Healthy foods, all of that for under $55. Credit: Alyssia Graves | Assistant sports director

It can be difficult for college students to find a way to eat three well-balanced meals each day while trying to juggle school and stay within a budget. Meal prep is a great and healthy practice students can do to alleviate stress about cooking every night or spending a lot of money on fast food.

The meals can easily consist of something from every food group to complete a wholesome meal.

 

DOS

Create a shopping list

The most important thing to prep in a cost-efficient way is to plan out meals before going to the grocery store so that you don’t overspend. There is a misconception that eating healthy can be expensive, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

Coupon

Looking for coupons or using a store-rewards card is essential and can help with costs. Buying store-brand food is also cheaper than buying name-brand, and they typically taste the same.

Think whole grain

Good grain options include rice and pasta. They cook in less than 20 minutes and are versatile. A box of rice or pasta is less than $1.50 and will last more than a week.

 

Taco bowl with ground turkey, corn, tomato, onion and cilantro. Credit: Alyssia Graves | Assistant sports director

DON’Ts

Buy prepackaged

Do not buy fruits and vegetables pre-cut and prepackaged. Although you might save time in meal preparation, you end up paying a lot more for a lot less produce. Paying by the ounce or pound will always be the cheapest option, so pick out your own fruits and vegetables.

Avoid the freezer

The notion that frozen meals are unhealthy is not necessarily true — if you cook them yourself. Buy in bulk, cook what you need for the week and then freeze the rest for later.

Go protein-crazy

Chicken, sausage, turkey and beef are tempting when they stare you in the face. But cooking four different meals with different meat bases is unlikely to work out. Find one or two proteins that work best for you and switch up your meals.

College students balance hectic schedules, but taking time to meal prep will save you so much time in the long run. Set out a day where you can spend a couple hours cooking and prepping. Sundays are typically the most feasible because you can plan for the week ahead.

Make sure you have enough containers to package your food. A package of reusable containers are less than $5 and are the perfect size for portion control.

So stop stressing about all of the money you’re wasting on eating out and get to the grocery store and start meal-prepping.

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