Realistic Meal Prep

Meal PrepMeal prep. You see the hashtags all over Twitter, Instagram and Facebook along with beautiful pictures of appetizing meals that claim to require little to no effort. Hah. How many times have I convinced myself that I would adopt that #mealprep lifestyle only to abandon it shortly after chopping just one vegetable? More times than I can recall, thats for sure.

Here’s the thing, I love to cook and the kitchen is my happy place, so spending a good chunk of my time in the kitchen to prepare the thing I love most in life, food, sounds like a no brainer...right? Wrong.

Being a college student is time-consuming enough, on top of also having a part-time job, all the while trying to maintain a somewhat active social life. You all get it, life has a way of just getting in the way sometimes.

Side note: I am so the type of person to make myself a peanut butter sandwich for dinner on a night that I have absolutely no obligations, yet when I have three papers due, a research assignment and two exams to study for, I suddenly become Julia Child and whip up a freaking four-course Michelin worthy meal. Procrastination strikes at the strangest times...

Back to business: As I was saying, I’m too busy (lazy) to be an intense meal-prepper, but it’s ok! If you find yourself in a similar situation, find out how to make meal prepping work for you. Even if it just means throwing a yogurt and a granola bar into your lunch box (I can’t be the only one who still uses a lunchbox, right?) the night before, so be it! Sure, technically you just threw packaged items into a bag, but alas, in doing so you are now prepared for your next meal, how simple was that!

What I find works best for me is taking foods that I love, that also require little to no effort to cook, and making a big batch to last me all week. For example, I could eat sweet potatoes and oatmeal for every meal if it were socially acceptable. Lucky for me, the two take barely an ounce of energy to prepare and cost next to nothing! #ballinonabudget If I want to eat sweet potatoes all week all I’ve got to do is wash them, wrap them in foil and pop them in the oven for an hour or so and voila, I’ve got perfect little spuds to be devoured however I please. Maybe one day I’ll top one with yogurt and almond butter, and another I’ll pile on my favorite salsa or hummus. You can do no wrong with sweet potatoes.

Meal-prepped sweet potato topped with salsa and a fried egg.

The same goes for oatmeal, it is not only one of the simplest foods to prepare, but it also serves as the perfect blank canvas! What I’ll do is make a huge batch of oatmeal and keep it in the fridge all week so that I can either scoop some into a bowl for breakfast, or if I’m feeling super fancy, put some in a mason jar with toppings like chia seeds, banana or granola and take it for breakfast or lunch on the go. Oh and just so you know, oats can be savory too, throw in some spice, vegetables and maybe some bacon and boom, dinner is served.

Meal-prepped steel-cut oats that I topped with fresh fruit.

The options are endless and you can cater whatever you choose to make based on your diet. Remember, meal prep can be as elaborate or straightforward as you please, it all depends on your budget, schedule, and the amount of energy you wish to dedicate to the task.

Even though I essentially talked about the two plainest foods on the planet, potatoes and oatmeal, hopefully I have piqued your interest and if you are hungry for more meal prep ideas all it takes is a simple google search and before you know it you’ll be cooking in bulk like a pro.

PHOTO COURTESY of Kiersten Becht