Oh the infamous meal prepping, prepping of meals, labouring one afternoon to avoid cooking over the course of the weekend. To meal prep or not to meal prep, everyone has a different style of eating.
People meal prep for different reasons, the easiest being labour now and remain free for a week.That sounds like a great idea. Especially for busy people like me who has hours of labs and lectures. Other prep to control portions or are just super organized. As for me, I like to stay within a budget both for money and time. Extensive hours of cooking on a calm Sunday afternoon is actually quite therapeutic.
The number one thing I don’t do with meal prepping, is packaging individual meals. I am not a one trick pony and it seems incredibly boring to eat the same thing for a week. My life is already monotonous enough, I don’t need another consistent routine. When all you do is study, work and repeat, its nice to have a little bit of creative freedom without burning a hole in your pocket.
My first staple is overnight oats. I know, it sounds basic, but when you are a student on a budget with little time and a constant appetite, it’s so easy to take on the go. Its better to be basic than hungry, right?
Every week I like to vary the base of my oats from chocolate oatmeal, a cinnamon base, and a plain soaked oats, then add frozen berries on the way out. With my avid obsession with oatmeal, I love to get a bulk supply of oats. The great thing with overnight porridge is that it does not necessarily have to be rolled oats.Trying to reduce, reuse and recycle, I use left over cooked plain quinoa or some soaked buckwheat also works instead of the oats. The great thing with meal planning is that it may seem like the same thing every week, but the possibilities are endless with what you can do with porridge. I am hoping to try oatmeal ideas inspired from my favourite deserts, hopefully it will make it to the blog.
Alternating between oatmeal I love to add green smoothies. I feel like i keep saying “I love” but I am so obsessed, I look forward to drinking my smoothie every morning. Anyway, with prepping smoothies, I just combine many combinations of fruit and greens I have available. I love keeping some of the fruits on the side as extra topping to make a smoothie bowl. I will elaborate on my favourite smoothies in other blog posts, and my favourite combinations later. This is a very important part of meal prepping to get in my essential nutrients early in the day.
Sides are such an integral part of meal prepping because you can make many combinations of meals
I always love to add a simple salad to add to the main dishes. You can find the recipe to my favourite Simple Side Salad in the Salad section of my blog. I tend to go with leafy greens because they last a little longer and act as a great canvas for what ever seasonal topping you want to add. I go through so many vegetables every week that I just bulk buy all my greens for this salad, or freeze them for my smoothies.
I also bake large batches of potatoes because sweet potatoes are bless. Potato chips, as I call them chips because of the inner Ghanaian in me, could be either a snack, added to a meal and added to veggies to transform a snack to a meal with a heaping scoop of hummus. I like to vary the type of potatoes–just the plain potato and two different types of sweet potato. Yay carbs!
Being vegan, grains has become a staple in my meal prep and an alternative to the carbs from potatoes. I switch from buckwheat, quinoa, Canadian Wild Rice, barley–basically whichever is on sale at Bulk Barn. This week’s grain was quinoa, which is packed with protein that can get me through all those chemistry labs. I generally use the 1:2 ratio– 1 part quinoa, 2 parts water for a big bowl of fluffy quinoa in less than 20 minutes, which means less time in the kitchen.
Like oatmeal, quinoa is a blank canvas and can take on any flavour added to it. To keep meal prepping interesting, I change the flavours depending on what I am feeling like on that day. For this week, it was turmeric, cumin and paprika, who knows what next week will be.
This is my favourite part. I remember always eating some sort of tomato stew (in Ghana any sauce is considered a stew) most days and love to keep it as a staple. So every week, I make some sort of tomato base stew, but again, changing up the added ingredients, either beans, peppers, zucchini, or even potatoes or left over veggies from other meals. It usually turns out great.
I know this has been a long ramble about my meal prep, but prepping meals is something thats really helpful, especially as a university student on a budget. One thing that I will always iterate is that meal prepping does not have to boring but rather a blank canvas to let your food imagination go wild.
If you want me to elaborate more, leave a comment below and while you are it, head over to the follow button.