The positives of meal-prepping

Mallory Pace, Government Reporter

Everyone loves convenience, even if it sometimes means sacrificing quality. While convenient, the University of North Florida (UNF) dining options can become repetitive and expensive. Packing a substantial lunch and healthy snacks will help students retain their energy, allowing for a productive school day.  

NutriNews is a UNF student-run nutrition magazine that discusses different topics of nutrition and clarifies common misconceptions around food health.

Having substantial food options is vital for students running on a busy schedule. To avoid accidentally skipping meals and spending too much money on fast food options, Sally Medero, a UNF senior in the nutrition program and Editor in Chief of NutriNews, highly suggests that students consider meal-prepping. 

 One option she always recommends is overnight oats. With just a few ingredients, students can prepare small containers with oats, milk, and any toppings that make for a quick and substantial breakfast or snack. 

An example of an easy, affordable, healthy snack. Seasonal veggies and seed crackers with hummus. Photo by Siddie Friar.

 Another customizable lunch option Medero suggested was a portable salad. Like the overnight oats, students can fill a small container with their preferred vegetables and protein that can last for days. Not only does it make for a quick and easy lunch, but it will leave students feeling more energized and ready to continue their day. 

 “The key and foundation to making sure you’re continuously eating and not skipping meals is preparation and time management,” Medero said.  

 The beauty of meal-prepping is that it looks different for everyone. It can be as simple as making extra portions for dinner and bringing the rest for lunch. Or, it can look like prepared salads, fruit cups, rice bowls or whatever your heart desires. 

 While it may seem easier to buy lunch from the fast-food options on campus, convenience certainly comes at a cost. With the money a student would spend on purchasing five lunches from Chick-fil-a or Panda Express, they could buy much more food and variety from the grocery store. 

Students stand in line for food at Panda Express in the Student Union food court. (Johnakeshia Thompson)

 Rather than grocery shopping once a month and buying an abundance of food that could potentially go bad before you get the chance to use it, Medero suggested planning meals at the beginning of each week and then shopping accordingly. 

 She also urged students not to deter from frozen and canned foods. Although for certain canned fruits and vegetables, students should consider buying light syrup, no sugar or low sodium. 

 As far as healthy snacks and ingredients students should be aware of, Medero recommended whole grain options like whole grain pasta, brown rice and nuts to keep energy lasting longer. 

“For quick snacks, you could do yogurts and pair it with fruit or nuts,” she suggested. “The nuts will give you that healthy fat and keep you satiated for a longer period of time.” 

 Protein bars are another quick and healthy option for students. With the wide variety of protein bars available today, Medero recommended students choose protein bars that are low in sugar and high in protein to give their bodies the appropriate health benefits. Specifically, she recommended Cliff and Quest protein bars. 

 All college students have those days when the alarm clock doesn’t go off, and you’re rushing out the door, and the only solution to a bad day is a Chick-fil-a sandwich. But remember that moderation is key.  

“Eat until you feel like you’re full, not eating until your plate is empty,” Medero said. “Try to at least do half of your plate with vegetables, and then the other half your carbohydrates and protein source.” 

 Making it through a full day of classes is exhausting as it is, but food is fuel. When you prioritize packing your own lunch and snacks, you can know exactly what you’re giving your body and cut the costs of meals simultaneously.


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