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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Meal prepping as a college student

Katie Cappelletti ’24 prepares a meal at her off-campus house, Jan. 25. PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE CAPPELLETTI ’24

Setting aside time to go to the grocery store every night and then cook meals at home is not really feasible for most college students. As a result, many of us resort to eating out several times a week, which can be both expensive and unhealthy.

As a student-athlete myself, I have fallen victim to this cycle time and time again. Between classes and practice, I am always scavenging to find something to eat, which usually means I’m running to Dunkin’ or Starbucks in the little time I have.

I wanted to find a solution to break this endless cycle. So, for one week, I decided to give meal planning a shot. That meant I had to brainstorm meals for the week, make a grocery list with all of the ingredients and take on the grocery shopping. I was determined to go all in for my first attempt and planned three meals a day for five days.

Kaitlyn Willwerth, a registered dietitian and client experience manager at Philadelphia-based OnPoint Nutrition, said she recommends meal planning to many of her clients.

“It helps you stick to your health goals, number one,” Willwerth said. “Number two, it can help you with budgeting.”

I wanted more nutritious food on my plate, so that was reason enough for me to attempt a week’s worth of planned meals. I made a list of ingredients for tacos, chicken caesar wraps, homemade pizzas and my delicious pasta dish.

When all was said and done, my grocery bill was about $25 cheaper than it usually is, and it was my only grocery store run for the entire week, which is seriously unheard of for me. On top of that, I was only in the store for 45 minutes because I didn’t have to peruse the aisles like I normally do.

For breakfasts, I even went a step beyond meal planning to do meal prepping by making overnight oats the night before. The morning of, I was able to grab my oats as I headed out the door. This made mornings with practice so much easier, and I was actually fueled properly.

Hailey Bitters ’24, a graduate health administration student-athlete on the women’s field hockey team, has been meal planning for almost two-and-a-half years. After being limited on time with her busy schedule, Bitters said she realized that having her meals planned relieved a lot of daily stress.

“It just really keeps me fueled,” Bitters said. “I always know I’m going to have a meal ready for me [and] I don’t have to stress or panic about what I’m going to eat. I know I’m going to at least be satisfied with that meal and then I can always add in snacks throughout the day depending on what kind of load day it is.”

Like Bitters, I have experienced similar feelings. During my meal-prepping experiment, I avoided stressing about what food I was going to make or having to spend money to eat out.

Sarah Fine, dietician and nutritionist at St. Joe’s, is the ultimate meal planner. She and her staff plan an entire semester’s worth of meals at a time, trying to come up with healthy dishes that also satisfy diverse dietary needs.

“We generally plan for the entire semester between semesters,” Fine wrote in response to written questions from The Hawk. “Of course, we make changes throughout the semester based on student feedback. We like to add weekly or daily specials based on seasonality, and special events or holidays.”

Willwerth suggested using the 80/20 rule, which prioritizes eating healthy or prepped meals 80% of the time, for anyone who wants to make a change, whether it be for health reasons, financial reasons or even time.

“You can’t be perfect 100% of the time, so that’s where I come up with the 80/20 rule,” Willwerth said. “If you can plan four out of seven dinners that you’re eating a week, then that’s great.”

Not to be dramatic, but the feeling of having a meal waiting in my fridge for me throughout the entire week was life-changing. I saved so much time by not having to deliberate over what restaurant I would go to for dinner because I have eaten at them far too many times. Instead, I just went home and made what was on the menu, in no more than 20 minutes.

To say the least, this will be the new normal for me.

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