As students, we are constantly trying to balance assignments, tests and due dates—on top of all our other responsibilites—so naturally, finding something that is going to make our lives even a little bit easier is always welcome. For me, that something was meal planning. I realize this isn’t a particularly novel idea, but it’s a bandwagon I recently jumped on and it’s helped my day to day life become far more manageable, so I thought I’d share!
When I moved into an apartment this past September, I was faced with the challenge of being completely responsible for making all my own meals for the first time. In truth, it was something I was looking forward to. The problem was that although I consider myself reasonably decent at preparing food, I lack in the planning department. Planning meals in advance wasn’t something I had grown up with; there were many nights spent searching for a recipe possible with the ingredients we had left in the fridge.
Unfortunately, this is a pattern I carried over into my own process but it became difficult in the evening after a long day of class, when the last thing I felt like doing was searching the web for a recipe that uses whatever sparing groceries I may have had at the time. The result typically ended up being something quick and easy that didn’t take a lot of preparation or thought, like soup or salad. While this sounds like it would be healthy, eating the same thing every day doesn’t give your body the nutrients it needs to function optimally.
On the other side of the equation is my roommate, who is much more organized than I am. She plans what she is going to eat for the week and bases her grocery shopping off that. For reasons I can’t quite explain to myself now, I always felt like this was just one extra thing to do on my already-hectic weekends. Basically, I felt like meal-planning would make my life more complicated, so I avoided it.
At this moment, I can honestly say that I was very wrong. I’ve been giving it a try since New Year’s and I really don’t understand what took me so long to get on board! By knowing what I’m going to be eating each day of the week, and knowing that I already have the ingredients waiting in the fridge, it means that I’m eating proper meals without much additional thought. Not to mention the fact that actually buying groceries has become much easier: instead of wandering around picking up food that I think I might use or really whatever I feel like at that moment, I have a set list. This shortens the trip and also saves me from wasting food. It’s all too easy to buy produce with great intentions to use it, but then you forget about it once you get wrapped up in your busy week. When you set a menu for the week (and stick to it!) it ensures that all the food you buy gets used. It can also be kind of fun — if there’s a week when I know I’m going to have a bit of extra time, I can plan on experimenting with a new recipe.
In the end, if you’re in charge of making your own food, I highly recommend you try your hand at meal-planning. As a student, it doesn’t get much better than finding something that will save you time and money (and stop you from wasting it needlessly), as well as keep you healthier and reduce last minute stress!