Cook Once, Eat Twice: Meal Prep Recipes 101

Written by: Catherine

Edited by: Megh

Visual by: Sarah

As we finish our first month of school, the heavy workload, lunch meetings, and tight deadlines can often make us forget the importance of eating healthy meals. Being well nourished is especially important for teenagers as their bodies need more nutrients to support bone growth, hormonal changes, and tissue and brain development. Furthermore, studies have shown that students who are well nourished are more likely to have higher grades, better memory, and have faster information processing skills. Especially in the times of a pandemic, it is important to eat healthy to maintain a strong immune system. 

Meal prepping – preparing meals ahead of time  – has taken the internet by storm with its fast, easy, and efficient outlook on meals that would traditionally take hours slaving over the stove to make. By cooking meals ahead of time, people can still eat healthy meals during the busy weekdays. As meal prep is usually done over the weekends, it allows people to plan their meals and choose nutritious options. Meal prep saves time, money, and ultimately provides a nutritious meal for busy people who are trying to maximize their productivity.

Over the past few years, meal prep culture has become the new trend in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. What started from posts from food bloggers expanded to social media as it became a new viral trend on instagram. There are thousands of posts with the hashtag #mealprep and #mealprepdaily uploaded everyday on Instagram, showcasing the bulks of food beautifully distributed in tupperwares. Needless to say, social media and food blogging has greatly influenced the viral trend of meal prep culture. 

BT has compiled some quick meal prep recipes guaranteed to make your school week!

Overnight Oats

Photo by Irina Grigoraş on Unsplash

Overnight oats are the next new way of making oatmeal. It is a nontraditional take on warm, boring, sludgy oats and adds a dash of colors and sweetness. According to Healthline, overnight oats are nutritious meals to start off the day as it provides “12 to 19% of daily recommended value for iron, calcium, iron, zinc, thiamine, and pantothenic acid”. Furthermore, in comparison to other grains, oats contain more protein and fat and are excellent sources of a type of fiber called beta glucan, which reduces hunger and creates a feeling of fullness. All you need are some oats, milk, and toppings of your choice. This creamy and sweet menu is also a perfect vegan recipe as any plant based milk can be substituted!

Ingredients:

½ cups of Rolled Oats, ⅓ cup of Milk, Chia seeds (optional), 1 teaspoon of Maple Syrup (optional), ¼ cup of Greek yogurt, Any toppings of preference (blueberries, strawberries, cinnamon, cocoa powder, nuts) 

Preparation:

  1. Pour ½ cup of rolled oats, ⅓ cup of milk, and ¼ cup of greek yogurt in a mason jar. 
  2. Add any toppings you prefer. If you want some more sweetness, try adding 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, cocoa powder, or maple syrup. Adding fruits and nuts adds more crunchiness and flavor to your oatmeal. 
  3. Close the jar and put it in the fridge overnight. 
  4. Mix them all together and enjoy!

Smoothie Bowl

You’re scrolling through your feed and see a series of aesthetic instagram posts, with vibrant decorations spread across the icy mixture in a colorful bowl at the center. Enter smoothie bowls, the new sensation of Instagram. Smoothie bowls have become a viral trend, becoming the front runner of the aesthetic #wellness posts. While its appearance may make it seem difficult to make, it is a rather easy process. If you think about it, smoothie bowls are essentially just that – smoothies in a bowl! Smoothie bowls can be prepped in meal prep style by cutting up the fruits and freezing them beforehand. 

Ingredients: 

Frozen berries, frozen bananas, and non-dairy milk or protein powder (optional) 

Preparation:

  1. Cut up the fruits so that they can easily be blended in the blender.
  2. Put the fruits in tupperware and freeze them. 

Cooking: 

  1. Low blend frozen bananas and frozen berries.
  2. When the mixture is blended into particles at the size of dippin dots, pour the non-dairy milk and protein powder and low blend again.
  3. Continue blending at low speed until the mixture has a soft serve texture.
  4. Pour the mixture into a bowl and add nuts or fruits at the top!

Chicken Teriyaki Stir-Fry 

Do you miss teriyaki chicken from Gokinjo? If so, this copycat GoKinjo teriyaki recipe is for you! It is a nutritious meal that has enough carbohydrates, proteins, and vegetables. Using the standard meal prep method of cooking in bulks and then separating it in different containers to be refrigerated, this recipe has the basics of meal prep. Delve into Asian cuisine at home! 

Ingredients:

3 chicken breasts, 1 teaspoon crushed garlic, 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, ½ cup soy sauce, ⅓ cup honey, 1 onion, 2 small bell peppers, 2 cups of broccoli, 1 green onion, cooked white rice

Preparation: 

  1. Cut the chicken breast into cubes. 
  2. Thinly slice the bell peppers and green onion. Cut the broccoli into small pieces. 
  3. In a pan, cook cut chicken over medium-high heat until almost done. Sprinkle some salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the crushed garlic.
  5. Add in the soy sauce, honey, and 1 tablespoon of the sesame seeds. Stir until the sauce thickens.
  6. Remove the chicken from the pan, leaving the sauce, and add the vegetables to the pan.
  7. Cover the pan for several minutes and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, then remove the lid and stir until the sauce is thick again.
  8. Split the rice, vegetables, and chicken evenly between 4 containers. Top with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and sliced green onion. Refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Instead of the awkward moments in class trying to hide yourself munching on breakfast or lunch, try meal prep to make more time for yourself to eat healthy and calmly. Using those cooking skills built up during quarantine, expand your cooking spectrum to warm meals to energize your school week!

References:

Kannan, Madhumita. “5 Easy & Healthy Meal Prep Recipes.” Tasty.co, Tasty, 10 Oct. 2019, tasty.co/compilation/5-easy-healthy-meal-prep-recipes.

Bergerson, Camille. “Weekday Meal-Prep Chicken Teriyaki Stir-Fry Recipe by Tasty.” Tasty.co, Tasty, 26 Apr. 2017, tasty.co/recipe/weekday-meal-prep-chicken-teriyaki-stir-fry. 

Lo, Tiffany. “Strawberry Chocolate Overnight Oats Recipe by Tasty.” Tasty.co, Tasty, 19 Oct. 2017, tasty.co/recipe/strawberry-chocolate-overnight-oats. 

Petre, Alina. “7 Tasty and Healthy Overnight Oats Recipes.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 9 Sept. 2019, http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/overnight-oats-recipes. Baker, Minimalist. “Berry Smoothie Bowl: Minimalist Baker Recipes.” Minimalist Baker, Minimalist Baker, 8 May 2020, minimalistbaker.com/favorite-smoothie-bowl-5-minutes/.