As a student living away from home, I cannot stress how important meal planning is. Not only is it a time saver, but it is the ultimate way to save money and eat well. Meal planning is different to each person, it could be writing down what you plan on eating for the week and what to buy for each meal, or it could be cooking things in big batches that will be divided up for the week. My version is a combination of the two because not only do I write a big list of what I need, I also cook up big batches.
This week instead of making a new recipe I thought I would share my tips and tricks when it comes to planning and preparing meals when you are constantly on the go. I read a lot about meal planning before I started doing it and many websites will tell you the same thing, cook enough that you can mix and match for the week, and cook with flavour!
For breakfast I alternate between making a big batch of oatmeal that I can divide up for the week or a batch of breakfast sausages and some sauteed vegetables. On the days I have oatmeal I add blueberries, maple syrup, cinnamon and a splash of milk- a very tasty and hearty combination. On the days I have veggies I crack two fresh eggs and fry them over easy until my veggies and sausage are warmed through. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day to me because it fuels you for whats to come. I find if I take the time to prepare some of my breakfast a head of time I can always be sure to start my day on the right foot.
For lunch I usually just have leftovers for dinner or a snack which usually consists of vegetables, hummus, cheese and cracker or an apple with nut butter. It all depends on the day of the week and what I have going on that day, but I highly recommend making up a few snacks all at once so you can “grab and go” as you’re rushing out the door.
As for dinner I base my dinner around protein, vegetables and once in a while, a carbohydrate. I utilize my deep freezer for most of my dinner options because I am a huge fan of making batches of chili or big meals and portioning them into baggies and containers to be stored until i need them on a busy night. If my week is not as crazy as it could be I make dinner about twice a week and enough for two-three days. I recommend making a huge batch of roasted, sauteed or grilled veggies and a flavourful protein such as chicken, beef or fish (my top three choices).
After you have decided how you eat and what you like to eat set time a side on your day or evening off and use your oven! I like to have my protein roasting in the oven by itself or along side vegetables and use the stove top for other side dishes. Let food completely cool before you portion it and store it in containers. After filling the containers pop some in the freezer for later (always be prepared!) and stock up your fridge. You are less likely to over eat or indulge in pricey takeout food if you know you have a meal waiting for you back home.
In conclusion meal prepping and planning is a lot of work but well worth it because of the time and money saved. As a student my wallet is thanking me and as a human my body thanks me. Do yourself a favour and take some time out of your day to even plan out two meals, the results will be rewarding and it will become a new attribute to your current lifestyle!