I have meal prepped since nursing school. I find myself continuing to do so for many reasons. First off, it saves me so much money! Each meal averages about $1.05. This is incredible, especially being on a student’s budget. Think about how much going out to eat costs…Meals average $10-$15 a person! You are saving over 90% by making your own food!
Another thing that makes meal prepping so attractive is being in control of what goes into your food. Trader Joe’s has some seemingly healthy pre-made meals, but what most people don’t look at are the sugar, salt, and starch concentrations within the meals!
Lastly, you control your portions. I tend to have a hollow leg with food. I am only 5’1.25 (yes that quarter of an inch is important to me) and 120lbs, but I can make food disappear like it’s my job. Controlling my portions is very important. Most of the time I eat so quickly that I think I am still hungry, when in reality I am full!
Nursing school opened my eyes to the importance of a balanced diet. An excess of salt is unnecessary and just makes you feel icky and bloated. Same with complex carbohydrates. I apply a low salt, sugar, and complex carbohydrate mentality to my meal prepping. Instead of gaining the freshman fifteen, I ended up losing weight in school. Establishing a schedule with controlled meals and an exercise routine worked in my favor! Of much importance, is hydration! Drinking plenty of water is essential. The only liquids I consume are water and coffee. Avoiding soda helps you dodge unnecessary calories and sugar!
When creating my menu for the week, I focus my main meals (lunch and dinner) on proteins and veggies. My go-to proteins are: salmon, chicken, turkey, or beans. I avoid red meat and pork entirely. I pair the protein of the week with some sort of veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, spinach, zucchini, or kale. I know this is frowned upon, but I do not eat a true breakfast. If I eat breakfast, it is usually around 10AM and consists of either an RX Bar or Pressed Juicery Coffee Protein drink.
To help you get started meal prepping, I created a list for you to use. Simply pick your proteins, veggies, and sauces for the week. This list can make hundreds of different meal combinations so you don’t get sick of certain foods.