By Joy Taylor
There is an art to dishing out picture perfect colorful meals, equipped with vegetables, proteins and grains into various sized tupperware. When Sunday comes around and the kitchen turns into a steamy bustle filled with aromas, tupperware containers sit empty on the counter, waiting to be filled and stacked in the fridge. With an entire kitchen cabinet designated to stacked tupperware and disheveled lids, the basic necessities for meal preparation are making their way into college students kitchens. Instead of counting leftover meal swipes, students are counting the macros that will be in tomorrow’s stored lunch.
The technique that originally began to accommodate bodybuilders and fitness gurus for dieting and weight gain, is becoming more common for students around the nation. The popular Instagram hashtag, #mealprep, has over 2 million posts, many contributors being college students invested in healthy eating. This trend is making headway as it is cheaper than having a meal plan, convenient for busy schedules, and promotes healthy eating habits.
According to researchers at Auburn University, 70% of college students gain weight due to snacking, partying and all-nighters. College students are using this meal prep hack to stay in control of their hectic lives. Meal prep is an easy way to stop skipping meals and stay on track with the nutrients you consume on a daily basis by packing the necessary macronutrients into your meals.
Dr. Loredana Quadro, an associate professor of Food Science at Rutgers University, says one of her good friends uses meal prep, although she has never done so herself. “I think it’s actually a great idea, I never thought about it [in terms of college students], but it has great potential as long as it maintains the variety,” she says. Quadro is very familiar with the eating habits among college students due to a Diet Analysis Project she assigns her students. “When we run the Diet Analysis we actually get to see a lot of things that even the students do not realize. They don’t realize they may being going through a pathological state and only eating one third of their recommended calories,” she said. College students tend to ignore the consequences of bad eating habits.
It is no surprise that college takes a toll not only on your personal life, but also on your bank account. Meal preparation can be clutch for college students by replacing meal plans after freshman year. For example, at Rutgers University the lowest meal plan for a student not staying in a residence hall is 50 and guarantees three meals a week, costing $810 per semester. By spending about $30 a week on meal prep, you are guaranteed 28 meals averaging out to about $450 a semester. Do the math. It cuts the meal plan cost in half allowing you to have more meals a week.
Maintaining a healthy diet in college can be challenging with all the temptations around college campuses. “The fact is that not all [students] have the opportunity to manage their own food. They can’t cook,” Quadro says. “Most of you live in dorms, or small apartments and it becomes difficult to cook. College students who are doing what they’re supposed to do, which is learn, are very busy. So there is really no time to cook. There is a lack of space, lack of time, and not enough money to maintain a healthy diet,” she said.
College students’ fridges are stacked with containers, their pockets are full, and they are becoming more conscious of their health.
Here are some easy go to meal prep recipes: