4 meal prep ideas for students studying remotely or on campus this semester

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Colton Loeb, Columnist

Quarantine has provided me with a lot of time, time that was once filled with activities that burned calories. Now, the main activity I find myself indulging in is eating…too much. 

As the school year draws near, many students must make the choice between on campus dining or home cooked meals. Both have their advantages: dining hall meals are convenient and offer security, while home cooked meals can be cost effective and tailored specifically to your tastes and needs.

Recipes that control portion sizes and meal prep makes cooking easy and stress free for students in between online classes. 

Some may not have the option to cook full meals in a residence hall environment, but there are snack ideas to supplement the dining hall options. 

If you’re anything like me you like variety, so eating the same meal all week may get tiresome. So, don’t prepare more than five days worth of food. If you know you aren’t going to eat all the meals, freeze some. 

You can remove a meal from the freezer the night before you are going to use it and let it defrost in the refrigerator. 

Breakfast 

Overnight oats are a simple and cost effective breakfast, heart healthy and versatile. Simply pour oats in a mason jar or container of your choosing, cover with any kind of milk, and leave it in the fridge overnight. Enjoy with fresh berries or honey. The possibilities are limitless with this one. 

Lunch 

Caprese Salad 

Start to finish: 40 minutes 

Servings: 4

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts 14 oz total

salt & pepper

3 cups cherry tomatoes halved

1 bunch basil leaves whole but removed from stem

1 cup baby bocconcini (mozzarella balls) 

Balsamic Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon maple syrup, or honey, whichever you prefer

1/4 teaspoon dijon

salt and pepper

Cook quinoa according to package directions. Allow to cool.

Heat oven to 425°F. Toss the chicken with 1 tablespoon olive oil & balsamic vinegar. Season with salt & pepper.

Bake chicken breasts for 22-28 minutes, until cooked through. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before cutting into cubes.

Shake together vinaigrette ingredients.

Portion out meal prep bowls: 1/2 chicken breast, 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 1/4 cup bocconcini (mozzarella balls), 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, and basil leaves. Drizzle with vinaigrette.

Nutrition:

Serving: 1 bowl | Calories: 464 cal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 154mg | Potassium: 814mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 575IU | Vitamin C: 26.6mg | Calcium: 130mg | Iron: 2.7mg

This recipe from Sweet Pea and Saffron can easily be made vegan by leaving out the chicken! I recommend prepping the components and putting it all together the day of. 

Dinner  

Sesame Noodle Bowl  

Start to finish: 15 min 

Servings 4

Sauce:

1/4 cup sesame paste,or tahini

1/4 cup warm water

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 clove garlic, grated

Sriracha and sugar to taste

Bowls:

6–8 ounces stir fry noodles, Chinese egg noodles, or linguine in a pinch

2 cups edamame, cooked

2 cucumbers, diced

1 lb. chicken breast, cooked and diced (optional: see notes)

Sesame seeds

Sauce: Whisk all sauce ingredients together until smooth or you can run it through the food processor, or shake it up in a jar.

Noodles: Cook noodles a few minutes LESS than package instructions. If your noodles seem very sticky, rinse them in cold water. Toss noodles with about half of the sesame sauce.

Bowls: Divide noodles, edamame, cucumber, and chicken into containers. Drizzle with a little extra sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Store in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Eat hot or cold.

Calories Per Serving: 395

% DAILY VALUE, 19% Total Fat 15.1g, 0% Cholesterol 0mg, 29% Sodium 670.8mg, 21% Total Carbohydrate 57.3g, 15% Dietary Fiber 4.3g, Sugars 4.3g, 17% Protein 8.3g, 1% Vitamin A 8µg, 9% ,Vitamin C 7.9mg. 

This recipe from Pinch of Yum is kind of an upgrade from dorm room ramen and noodles in a cup. 

Snacks 

Nuts and fruit, almonds, cashews and peanuts are great for snacks, and so are dried fruits like cranberries, cherries and apricots. 

This is a fun one. Try freezing your grapes and eating those as a snack, if you’re packing a lunch they double as an ice pack! 

It is important to keep portion size in mind and eating snacks throughout the day is a good way to make sure you aren’t over eating at mealtime. 

After the hectic year we have all had, students can rely on meal prep to alleviate some of the stress brought on by a busy lifestyle.

For more recipes like these follow

Gathering Dreams

Sweet Peas and Saffron