Meal prep tips: a uni student's guide to success!

For National Nutrition Week, UQ Master of Dietetics student Chelsea Brauer gives her tips on meal prepping.

If you are looking online, meal prep can appear either overwhelming or bland (I’m talking about you, chicken and rice). But hear me out as it doesn’t have to be boring!

For me, meal prepping is about setting yourself up for success.

Eating nutritionally balanced meals is an essential component of maintaining good health, especially during the busy exam weeks where our bodies are placed under a lot of stress. However after a full day of work, the last thing we feel like doing is coming home to cook a healthy meal. Planning and prepping your meals ahead of time can be a great way to save time, money and stress.

Now, where to start…

Start small

If you’re not used to cooking large batches at a time, or don’t have the facilities to store the food, start by prepping one to 2 days’ worth of food. At lunch and/or dinner time, cook a double serve and refrigerate the extra into containers for the following days. By doing this you’re already saving yourself some work by cutting your cooking time in half.

Prep the basics in bulk

Choose 2–3 different carbohydrate and protein sources. Prepping these ingredients means you’ll be able to throw together a meal in under 5 minutes, whilst allowing for meal variety throughout the week.

Some versatile ingredients you can include are:

  • steamed rice
  • boiled eggs
  • grilled chicken
  • roasted sweet potato
  • quinoa
  • tinned tuna
  • carrot (or other) vegetable sticks
  • overnight oats.

Utilise frozen veg, microwavable rice, pre-packaged sauces and salad kits

I’m all about saving time and making healthy choices easy.

Frozen vegetables are nutritionally no different than their fresh counterpart, but they are cheaper, pre-chopped and cooked already for you. If vegetable preparation ever seems too time consuming or costly, frozen is your best friend.

The same goes for salad kits which are found in all major supermarkets and grocery stores. Bulk them out with different protein sources (tuna, chickpeas, chicken etc), plus any veggies you have lying around and you’re good to go. No fuss needed!

Pre-packaged stir fry and curry sauces turn a 10-ingredient recipe into one. If time is your biggest barrier in the kitchen, these are amazing. Head down the ‘international’ or ‘health food’ aisle and you’ll be surprised by the amount of brands to choose from. Compare the packaging and try to opt for products lower in sodium, sugar and saturated fats.

If you follow these easy tips, you’ll become a meal prepping pro in no time and you can use the time saved to enjoy more of what you love doing.

Last updated:
9 January 2023