I’m honestly surprised that I survived my college years. Not because of heavy drinking or poor decisions, but because of my eating habits. Now being an “adult” I’ve gotten 100 times better about what I put in my body, but back then it was a free-for-all. Everything I ate was processed, pop-tarts were a staple, and dinner would maybe happen if I ordered Jimmy Johns at 10:30 pm.
I mean I had every excuse in the book; I worked early, stayed up late, had night classes where I couldn’t eat dinner until 9:30 at the earliest, didn’t eat enough at home to buy a ton of groceries, they go on and on. It wasn’t until after I graduated when I realized that it doesn’t have to be that difficult. I decided to create an “ideal week” meal plan for a busy, broke, and healthy college student for a couple of reasons.
The Rebuttal to my own excuses:
Too Busy // There’s a couple things I find wrong with the meal plans on pinterest, even the fast ones are titled “Dinner in 30 minutes.” Yeah, if I had 30 minutes to spare I would probably take a nap, not spend it in the kitchen. Plus, in order to compete with the easy take out options, you need to be in and out fast. All of the recipes I have below would probably take you 15 minutes tops to cook, saving you time and stress from missing valuable study sessions (or episodes of the bachlorette, either one).
Too Broke // Another problem with the Pinterest recipes? Most require weird ingredients you wouldn’t use somewhere else. I usually have a rule (with food and with clothes for vacation), if you can’t use it atleast twice, use something else. This helps cut down on buying too many things and then having them spoil. It also saves room in the budget for wine and chocolate, other necessities. Also, do you have any idea how expensive coconut oil is?! Sometimes the new-healthy ingredients are soooo expensive, they could be the same costs as a whole pizza. Think of your priorities here.
Too Healthy // Listen, this is the busiest time of your life, don’t feed yourself garbage and hope to stay up to 2 am every night. The next thing I hate about pinterest recipes is that they can be so awful for you. Let me tell you that you don’t need a whole cup of cheese per meal in your life. You also don’t need to eat crazy, tiny portions of weird foods in order to stay in shape – the other side of these recipes. You need nutrients, vitamins, things that make your body run at peak performance. You need to cut down on the crap and put less processed things in your body. Of course, no one is perfect at this, but making an effort will make a difference.
None of the recipes are ground breaking, insane, or unheard of. The point of this list wasn’t to do something difficult or impressive, it was to show you how easy it can be, to help you rid yourself of the excuses that I had and focus on what you need, nutrition. I wanted to show that you can still eat right and be on budget, be health conscious and save time for all the other requirements.
A couple of point of things on this list that are important
- Get the pre-packaged salad mixes. They’ll save you a ton of time and money, plus you can get really good ones now like oriental chicken salad or caesar salad or whatever floats your boat
- How to Cook a Sweet Potato in the microwave – this article has changed my life, it’s so easy to do now and sweet potatoes are so good for you – win, win
- Get an air popcorn popper if possible to get rid of the chemicals in microwave popcorn, here’s a couple of good options here and here
- Kielbasa’s a really great option for a protein, it’s different so you’re not having the same thing over and over again, plus you can get the pre-cooked, pre-seasoned kinds to make dinner even easier. Don’t eat for every meal but it is a good way to break up the week
- Here’s a recipe to make your own pizza dough out of Bisquick mix! It’s really easy and you don’t need a lot of ingredients. We use it a lot when we go camping!
Need some good lunchbox inspiration? Here’s a couple of great options too if you need a little help finding a great tote.
This is just a template, I’m definitely not a world class chef or a nutritionist, but I just wanted to show you how easy it is to take care of yourself and not waste time or money. Please feel free to use this as a complete plan, swap things out, or use it simply as inspiration get yourself on the meal-prep train. Just spend some time this year to plan to eat right and leave the Hungry Howie’s late night pizza runs to a minimum.