Classes start in less than 2 weeks! The fall can be a crazy busy time with beginning a new set of classes, surmounting piles of homework, catching up with friends, and getting involved with campus activities. With all the busyness, it can be hard to find time to cook healthy meals when it's easier just getting takeout all the time. Cooking meals at home is healthier because you can choose exactly what's going into your food, and it saves you a TON of money. (Always appreciated). The only downside is that cooking all your meals at home can be time consuming. I know that after a long day of back-to-back classes, the last thing I want to do when I get home is to cook an elaborate meal, even if I know it would be better for me. (The best decisions are not made when you're tired and hungry). That time could be spent getting ahead on assignments or relaxing with a favorite show. 

So how can you add more homemade, healthy meals to your diet without spending all your extra time in the kitchen? The answer is to meal prep!

You may have heard about meal prepping from fitness bloggers or YouTubers, but it a practice for anyone who wants to eat healthily and save some time in the kitchen. Unlike a lot of food trends, meal prepping is actually very helpful and a good way to manage time and what you eat. It's great because it fits in with any lifestyle and schedule. Busiest on the weekend? Spend an afternoon on Thursday or Friday to prep your meals for work. Have a crazy class schedule? Take some time on Sunday afternoon to make easy-to-bring meals for the weekdays. 

How to get started

It can be a bit daunting to think about a whole week's worth of food, and even more so to cook it all in one day. Luckily there are many articles that show how to make meal prepping easy, fun, and tasty! There are many foods that work with a variety of dishes and are the easiest to start with. Rice, quinoa, and pasta are easy to make a lot of and store for the week. Then, all you have to do is add a protein, veggies, and seasonings or sauce of choice, and you're ready to go!

These two articles tell you exactly what you need, from supplies to ingredients, to start meal prepping. Sweet Peas and Saffron has a huge variety of recipes to make for all meals of the day. Get inspired to try new dishes every day! If you're trying to eat healthier and more balanced meals, check out The College Nutritionist. This site not only gives you starter tips for meal prepping, but also insights into how to live your healthiest life in college. (Goodbye freshman 15). All of the advice comes from Rachel, who has a PhD in nutrition, so you know you're getting info from a reliable source. That's so important when there are many fad diets and unsubstantiated health claims out there. 

Easiest recipes

I've selected a few really easy recipes you could make today to get started! 

For early morning classes: Overnight Oats!

All you have to do is put some oats, milk, and fruit/nuts in a bowl and leave in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, you'll have chilled oatmeal ready to go!

For a fresh lunch to give you enery: Salad in a Jar!

These salads are easy to bring with you to class or work, and offer a fresh meal full of vegetables to give you a little extra energy in the middle of the day. 

For back-to-back classes or long shifts: Roasted Chickpeas & Protein Balls!

These snacks are full of protein so you'll stay fuller longer. To roast chickpeas, simply drain a can, place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil and some seasoning (sweet or salty) and bake at 450 until crispy. The protein balls are easy to bring with you and are like a no bake cookie! Who could say no to that?