Meal prepping can be tough depending on what your schedule allows. I have always struggled with the idea of meal prepping until I realized it’s simpler to just cook in bulk. Whenever you’re making a meal like you normally cook for a simple dinner, cook more. You’re already going through the process of preparing a certain food to eat one serving but it is the same process when trying to cook more, so you might as well cook more. For example, you want to eat a simple chicken and rice meal so you cook one breast and a half a cup of rice to eat for that meal. Let’s say you bake the chicken, the oven cooks multiple chicken breasts in just as much time as it will take you to cook one. The same thing goes for rice, it takes just as long to boil 2 cups of rice that it does to cook a half a cup. You simply eat the serving size you intended and pack the left over food in zip lock containers. So if time is where you struggle, cooking in bulk is the key. You can eat that meal around the same time or even later on in the day if you had cooked it for lunch. I usually have time to cook on monday, wednesday, and fridays between class and work. I have hardly any time on tuesdays and thursdays, so if i just cook more on the days I actually have time to cook then I have a meal prepped for my short time days.
As students we build up a lot of stress throughout the week between homework and tests. It’s a common to go out and drink with friends on the weekend to relieve some of the stress or blow off some steam. A bad thing about that end of the week release is that it can really screw up your diet. There are ways to enjoy going out and worry less about how it will affect your weight loss/gain progress. It’s important to know the calories of your drinks or just know which ones have the least. If you’re going to drink, being cautious of what you consume is the first step to drinking healthier. Here is a list of some low calorie drinks and the calories you’re ingesting.
Rum: ~96 calories per 1.5 ounces
Light Beer: ~96 calories per 12 ounces
Gin: ~97 calories per 1.5 ounces
Champagne: ~100 calories per 3.4 ounces
Vodka: ~101 calories per 1.5 ounces
Whiskey: ~104 calories per 1.5 ounces
Tequila: ~104 calories per 1.5 ounces
Be aware that the number of calories is given per ounces consumed. If you can’t drink it straight or don’t prefer to drink it straight, you have to find a drink with less calories to be better for you. This list is the calories of these drinks straight up, mixers only add more calories. The more mixer you add the worse the drink is for you. The simplest drinks are usually the better ones for you but not always the best tasting. For example, one margarita contains the same amount of calories as around three vodka sodas. So I would recommend finding a simple drink that you enjoy and you get the same outcome, just better for you!
It’s difficult to find time to eat between classes or even between school and work depending on how tight your schedule is. I’ve made a list of healthy yet simple snacks to pack in your backpack or keep in a lunchbox at work. Most of these snack ideas require little to no prep so its super easy on you. The options are broad so hopefully there’s a new snack for each person to try and enjoy. They are also relatively inexpensive!
–Baby Carrots and Hummus or Ranch – The simplest thing to do is put your carrots in a zip lock bag and the dip in a small zip lock container.
–Celery and Peanut Butter – Same as the carrot snack idea! Or even buy the small to-go peanut butter dip packs.
–Almonds and dark chocolate – You could mix these in a zip lock bag like a trail mix kinda thing. Yes, dark chocolate is healthy in proper amounts.
–Yogurt and Rolled Oats – What I do is get the to-go yogurt cups and put the oats in a bag to mix later.
–Granola – A super simple snack is just to buy a big bag of oats and divide it up into small zip lock bags to eat through out the week.
–Grapes – Another super simple snack.
–Strawberries and yogurt – This snack would probably work best with a lunch box to try and keep both ingredients cold depending on how long you wait to eat them.
–Homemade Trail mix – You could make trail mix with a mixture of all different kind of nuts, chocolate, cereal or berries. Ex: A cup of each. Cashews, Cheerios, Pretzels, and sunflower seeds.
One of the simplest and inexpensive foods to eat is a grilled cheese sandwich! A normal grilled cheese takes about 3-5 minutes to prepare. Although its a classic it can get old after awhile especially if you’re on a cheaper budget and find yourself eating the same stuff everyday. Here are a couple recipes to mix it up from the original! These recipes only change or add a couple steps to the classic grilled cheese so they shouldn’t take much longer to cook.
- Classic Grilled Cheese – Add a tablespoon of butter to a skillet and let it melt. Then use two pieces of bread and 2 pieces of your choice of cheese whether its cheddar, swiss or monterey jack to create the sandwich. Place the sandwich in the skillet letting each side turn golden brown and allowing the cheese to melt in the middle.
- Spicy Nacho Grilled Cheese – 2 pieces of bread, 1 slice of american cheese, pickled jalapeno, and a slice of cheddar cheese. Cook as regular grilled cheese.
- Bacon Grilled Cheese – Cook your desired amount of bacon and place it between the bread when preparing a classic sandwich.
- Pizza Grilled Cheese – 2 slices of italian bread, a slice of Provolone cheese, a slice of Mozzarella cheese and a couple slices of pepperoni. Cook as normal.
- Tomato and Bacon – Spread a light layer of mayo on each slice of bread, add a slice of cheddar cheese, a tomato, 3 pieces of bacon, and another slice of cheese. Cook as normal.
- Avocado Grilled Cheese – Mash an avocado into a paste and mix in some lime juice to the avocado. Add avocado to any regular classic grilled cheese recipe, you can even add bacon and avocado together on a sandwich.
Peanut butter has several health benefits and many snacks that are quick to prepare when you’re busy or on the go. Although it’s high in healthy fats and calories it can be worth the calories with the nutritional benefits from eating peanut butter. It’s a great source of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. I’ve met several people that include peanut butter in their weight loss diet and their weight gain diet, they just eat different amounts depending on their goals. People trying to lose weight typically eat it in small amounts with apples or add it to other small snacks through out the day. People trying to gain weight usually throw it in protein shakes or even eat a few spoon fulls a day by itself. There is ample opportunity to add peanut butter into any diet no matter your goal.
- Classic PB&J – The PB&J is a well known sandwich for being quick, easy, and tasteful.
- Peanut butter toast – You could create multiple different versions of this snack. Simply add your choice of banana slices, granola, or honey to any piece of toast.
- Apples – Slice up an apple and dip the slices in peanut butter for a quick nutritional snack.
- Peanut butter Waffles – Spread peanut butter on your waffles for breakfast in the mornings, this makes for a high carb and protein rich breakfast.
- Smoothie – Add your preferred amount of milk, peanut butter, oats, yogurt, or bananas in any blender to create a nutritional smoothie for on the go or just a healthy snack during the day.
Coffee is a necessity for most college students. Whether it’s helping you through a sleepless night while cramming for a big test the next day or waking you up for that 8 am class, it has its benefits. Coffee also has several health benefits you might’ve been unaware of, but it’s only this healthy when you drink it without cream or sugar. Yes that means drinking black coffee. It takes about 5 steps to walk off the calories from a cup of black coffee, while it takes running a few miles to burn the calories from some fancy latte. Although drinking black coffee might not be the best tasting to you, there are steps you can take to work towards being able to drink it straight. Slowly add less and less cream and sugar as you get used to the taste of coffee so eventually you can bare the taste of it.
-Health benefits of black coffee
- Improves Energy – the caffeine stimulates your nervous system
- Help burn Fat because it increases your metabolism
- Protects your liver
- Contains essential nutrients such as manganese, potassium and magnesium
- Lowers risk of diseases such as heart disease
- Lowers risk of depression
- Contains Fiber
- Reduces risk of colon cancer
- Supports healthier skin appearance
-Price of making coffee vs buying coffee
Going to get coffee every morning can be expensive when coffee is $6 plus for one cup, but at java city in the College of business you can get a small black coffee for around $2. It’s around $10 a week at the cheapest if you bought that before class every day, so $40 a month. You make a one time purchase of a coffee maker from walmart under $20 and then coffee grinds and filters for under $10. The coffee grinds and filters could last at least a month. So after the start up costs of making coffee from home, it becomes cheaper in the long run.
Eating is the most important thing when trying to gain weight on top of working out. A lot of my bad eating habits are because I don’t eat on a proper schedule or even eat the appropriate foods for certain meals during the day. When I’m in a hurry I tend to eat whatever is the quickest and not necessarily the healthiest for me at that time. The best way to eat properly is to plan your meals throughout the entire day, most of the time this will involve some sort of meal prepping. Here’s a list of meals/snacks for an entire day, the times for each meal can vary based on your schedule.
These meals are based off a cheaper method of trying to gain weight while working out. Also you can just take some of the meal ideas in smaller portions if gaining weight is not your goal.
-Breakfast(8am): Blueberry Greek Yogurt mixed with 1/4 cup of oats, Avocado, and Toast. This is a cheaper breakfast that I eat often. It’s another quick breakfast for those who don’t have a lot of time before going to class. You can buy the yogurt in cups to put the oats in with it. Then you put some sliced avocado on your toast.
-Snack 1(11am): Protein Bar and Almonds. These are easy snacks to have in your back pack and eat between classes.
-Lunch(1pm): Grilled Chicken, Broccoli and White Rice. This meal is the one to consider meal prepping earlier in the week. Whether you’re at work or have a small break between school and work you can easily throw this in the microwave to be ready in seconds.
-Post workout snack(4-5pm): Protein Shake and Peanut Butter Banana Bread. I would recommend always mixing protein with milk to get the most calories out of the shake, but when on a budget water is fine. Then you can put some peanut butter on bread and throw some banana slices on it.
-Dinner(7pm): Pork Chop, Baked Potato, and Green Beans. This could be a very simple and inexpensive meal to end the day.