Food Trends: Meal Prepping
By Samantha Lieberman
After a full day of classes, homework, and extracurriculars, your stomach is growling and microwavable mac and cheese is just too tempting. What if you could have a homemade, nutrient dense meal that will leave you feeling satiated and save you money? You can by taking the time to meal prep each week.
Meal prepping is a food preparation technique in which you make meals ahead of time and have them ready to eat at any point throughout the week. There are many different ways to meal prep to fit individual needs and lifestyles.
Batch cooking is preparing large quantities at a time and freezing portions or saving them for the week.
Individually portioned meals is when you divvy up your food into single sized servings for meals throughout the week.
Prepping ingredients is chopping, slicing, dicing, or roasting ingredients to have on hand for the week.
While it may sound daunting at first, it will quickly become a staple in your weekly routine. By preparing all of your food at one time, you save yourself the stress of having to decide what to make later on in the week, and your food is ready to eat right when you get home. No more last minute fast food runs!
Not only does having your food prepared maintain your health by ensuring you are consuming a balanced diet, but it also reduces waste and saves money because you only buy the ingredients you know you will eat for the week.
While there are thousands of recipes to choose from, it may seem overwhelming. A key to successful meal prepping is choosing foods you like to eat and are confident making. If you are stuck, there are apps such as Anylist, Mealime, and Yummly to help organize your meal prep and suggest ingredients or similar recipes that may be of interest. Start off small by meal prepping for 2-3 days at a time and gradually work your way up. Soon you will get into a groove and be able to speed up the process.
As a sophomore Marketing and Food Science major, I know the workload and stress of school can leave us all exhausted and worn out, but meal prepping has truly helped me save time and eat healthier. Here are some things that have helped me along the way:
Set aside two hours once a week and dedicate it to meal prep. I like meal prepping Sunday night because it structures my week. Make it fun and invite friends over to keep you company.
Meal prep individual ingredients that pair well together, so you don’t end up eating the same thing all week. For example, every week I meal prep a grain (quinoa, sweet potato, farro, or whole grain pasta), roasted vegetables (brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, or peppers), and a protein (salmon, chicken, turkey, ground beef, tofu, or eggs). By having all of these foods prepped, I can have a salad one day, sweet potato stuffed chicken another, a stir fry another, and the list can go on. Switch things up even more by making different dressings or sauces for the week.
Meal prep things you actually enjoy eating. Do wish you could have a fresh, homemade smoothie every morning? Make a big batch at the beginning of the week, pour it into an ice cube tray, stick it in the freezer, and bamn! Smoothies for the week. All you have to do is pop a couple of cubes out, blend with milk or thaw for a couple of minutes and viola, a smoothie in no time.
Meal prep your treats too! Late night studying have you craving a fresh baked good? Make brownies or banana bread in the beginning of the week, package individually, freeze, and pop into the microwave for 16 seconds for a fresh, out-of-the-oven taste.
Always have back up foods on hand. We all have those crazy weeks with 3 tests, 2 papers, a presentation, and misplaced air pods that have leave us busy and stressed beyond belief. For weeks like this, when even 2 hours a day during the week just isn't in the cards, make sure you have soup, meatballs, or premade chicken in the freezer that you can thaw.