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The Hawk News

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 '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Kitchen disaster to minute-made chef

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Onions and different spices can be useful items to have on-hand (Photo by Elana Valentin ’19).

Tips to make meal prep easy.

Three years ago as a bright-eyed freshman on the unlimited meal plan, I never imagined myself laboring over a week’s worth of meals to save a few bucks. But meal-prepping on Sunday nights is easier than I expected.

Many students, however, are still terrified by the suggestion of following suit.

Meal prep items can be repetitive and bland, with the worst-case scenario being a soggy bowl of lettuce tossed in a lunch box at the last second. But many people forget the benefits: a customized menu with your favorite foods, no long lines in Campion and eating creatively without breaking the bank.

Put the caesar salad mix away. Don’t reach for that bulk-sized bag of chicken nuggets. Here are some tips for meal prep newbies that will cut your prep time in half and keep your tastebuds (and wallet) happy.

1. Instead of making five meals, prepare individual side dishes and entrees.

This can be as simple as mixing and matching two kinds of vegetables with chicken, or replacing a bag of chips with chopped apples and homemade peanut butter-honey dip.

You can decide what you want to eat the night before or on the fly as you rush to catch the morning shuttle. It doesn’t even take up any extra room in the fridge.

I always like to bake some chicken as a main course because it goes well with diced vegetables, pastas and other side dishes. It’s also easy to portion if you are on a diet or want to make your groceries last longer.

My go-to side dishes are pasta aglio olio (Italian for “pasta with oil and parmesan”) and peanut butter energy bites.

The energy bites are made of peanut butter, chia seeds, oats, honey and miniature chocolate chips. Mix the ingredients, refrigerate the “dough” for 15 minutes and roll into balls. It’s a sweet treat that keeps you full when you’re running from class to class.

2. Make yourself a master list of meal prep ideas.

Take a day to explore the treacherous Pinterest jungle and pin all of the recipes that appeal to you and your budget. This way, if you are running behind on homework or want to go out Sunday night, you will have ideas ready for a timely meal prep session.

Bonus tip: focus on recipes that use the same ingredients to save money. I always have onions, minced garlic and soy sauce on hand to make any bland meal a little more hearty.

3. Pick recipes that are good hot or cold.

You won’t always have a microwave where you are studying, so picking a cold pasta over temperamental soup can save you a headache or two. Not to mention, if your bag isn’t insulated on an especially hot day, your chocolate treat might melt. Perfecting your meal prep will take a little trial and error, so do not be discouraged.

4. Think back to mom’s packed lunches.

They’re great for nostalgic meals packed with nutrition. Who says meal prep has to be harder than a couple of PB&Js? This is definitely a great foundation for making sure you maintain a balanced diet full of vegetables, fruits and protein.

5. Broaden your horizons.

There are lots of variations of meal prep around the world to help draw inspiration. Ever heard of Bento Boxes from Japan? Tiffin tins from South Asia?

BuzzFeed has great tips for one pan meals that can easily cut your baking and dishwashing time in half.

Bonus tip: YouTube also has a great selection of meal prep hacks and healthy recipes.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to find deals at the grocery store and make the best of your hectic schedule.

Final piece of advice: write your name on your food. We don’t need sleepy roommates stealing your hard-earned meals.

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