We've all heard the saying, "You are what you eat", but when we skip meals... what are we? Many college students today skip meals to cram in more studying, sneak in a few more minutes of sleep, or to save a couple of dollars. As a full-time engineering student with plenty on my plate, I can say that meal prepping has saved me time, money, and from losing focus while studying!
College is a busy time for everyone. A typical day for me starts at 8am and ends at 5pm. Finding time to eat and pack a lunch every morning just doesn’t happen. Furthermore, after finishing a full day of classes, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking dinner. Meal prepping has saved me from a grumbling stomach during class and so much time before and after my day ends.
Save Time & Money
Not only has meal prepping saved me time during the school week, but it’s also saved me money. After having a meal plan freshman year, the habit of going to the dining hall for lunch or another quick-eat on campus was deeply ingrained in my brain. In addition, once I was done for the day, I’d be so exhausted that all I would want to do is order take out. I found myself spending so much money going out to eat and then throwing away any groceries I had bought because they’d go bad before I would get around to using them. With the amount of money I would spend on going out to eat, I have been able to make three meals a day, seven days a week for less than $3.75 per meal and a grand total of around $78 at the grocery store.
This may seem like a large sum of money for a one-time purchase but when you compare the two options, the savings is clear. Let’s say you spend an average of $7 for each meal when you go out to eat.
Going out to eat once a day:
1 meal/day x $7/meal x 7 days/ week= $49.00
Meal prepping for the week:
3 meals/day x $3.75/meal x 7 days/week = $78.75
By going out to eat even once a day each week you miss out on major savings and spend over half the amount you could have spent at the grocery store for three times the number of meals!
Tips & Tricks
Here are a few things that I have found useful while meal prepping:
- Make a list of the meals to prep for the upcoming week. This helps me to stay organized and figure out what I need from the grocery store. If I’m struggling to decide, I turn to Pinterest for some food inspiration!
- Make all of the meals at once. I set aside about 2 hours every Sunday to make everything.
- Invest in good food storage containers to store it all in. Make sure they are dishwasher safe for convenience and have a secure-snap lid to keep the food fresh!
The transition from traditional “spur of the moment” cooking or grabbing a bite out to eat can be difficult, especially once these things have become a habit. Once you give it a whirl and begin experiencing the benefits of meal prepping, you’ll be hooked!
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