Life is always go, go, go for college and university students. Between classes, extracurriculars, homework, and socializing, healthy eating is often pushed to the wayside. It is much easier to grab a quick snack, or to buy a meal while out of the house. This is especially true during busy periods such as midterms and exams.
However, healthy eating is extremely important for students. Taking the time to improve your eating habits will make you feel better, as well as improve your performance in many areas of your life, scholastic or otherwise. Meal planning is a simple strategy that can help save you time grocery shopping and cooking, and make healthy eating much easier. Here are some tips to assist you with your personal meal planning:
- Get inspired – Spending some time each week looking for new recipes, or finding old favourites, is a good way to get yourself motivated to cook. There are many resources available to help you find recipes: cookbooks, food blogs, Pinterest, and recipe apps are all great places to start. These resources offer a variety of recipes for different preferences and diet types.
- Don’t overwhelm yourself – Don’t go overboard on the number of recipes you plan to cook in a week. This is very easy to do, especially if you are just cooking for yourself. You’re likely to have leftovers that will last you for a few meals after cooking. Over-planning will leave you with excess ingredients, which is wasteful and costly.
- Choose healthy meals – Planning out your healthy meals will make clean eating that much easier and practical.
- Choose a favourite meal each week – Having a favourite recipe in your meal plan will make you excited to cook your meals for the week. It acts as a reward for choosing healthy meals, and for cooking.
- Make a grocery list – Having a list will make your trips to the grocery store much more efficient, as you can grab what you need, and get out as quickly as possible. It saves you time meandering through the aisles, contemplating what to purchase. It will help you save money as well, since you will avoid buying unneeded ingredients.
- Set time aside – Take a few hours on the weekend, or in the evening to prepare certain components of your meals. For example, you can cook your meat, chop your veggies, or make sauces. This will shorten cooking time throughout the rest of the week.
- Assign theme nights – Assigning certain types of meals to specific nights of the week makes meal planning easier and more fun since you’ll already have a framework of what recipes to choose. Monday can be Indian, Tuesday can be for tacos, Wednesdays for salads, etc.
- Make enough for leftovers – If you plan to have enough food for leftovers, it often means you will only have to cook once a day. You can also freeze leftovers for future meals on especially busy days.
Meal planning requires some time to execute properly, but will save you time and money in the long run, and is ultimately a rewarding process. Happy cooking!