Cooking with Carson: A meal prep journal entry

Meal prepping can save money, but also emotionally drain you



A little variety in your meals is always nice

CARSON HOLLAND, Evergreen columnist

I have started on the dreaded road of meal prepping.

For something that, coming into college, I avoided through dining halls and eating out, it feels like I have finally taken another step past my baccalaureate life.

There were lots of fears going into it: tales of people eating the same chicken and rice every day which, while healthy, seemed to drain them of all joy in their food.

If you have been following this column or my Bite of the Palouse column for any amount of time, you will know that I love almost every kind of food, and having that slowly slip away kept me from meal-prepping. Even the benefits could not sway me, but as I have begun student teaching, meal prep has become essential.

This article is not going to try and sell you on the typical talking points; if you have heard anyone who has fully bought into food prepping, you know what I mean. I will get those out of the way here — meal prepping is a cheap, easy way to have meals ready throughout the week or month! Whew.

Glad that’s over.

Now we can get down into the nitty gritty of meal prep, and I am going to offer some tips that will actually allow you to enjoy your food while getting the most out of meal prep.

Follow me on this journey, one that I am going through every day now, through the wide and potentially wondrous world of meal prep!

  1. Add some variety to your prep – Making one month’s worth of the same meal may seem economical, but you will find yourself slowly drained of all desire to eat that meal. It is a similar experience when you eat the same food at the dining hall over and over again. Mix it up! Meal prepping two different recipes at a time can help get that variety and add some much-needed excitement.
  2. Flavors are not a bad thing – Some people make their meals ahead of time so that they can plot out healthy meals, and there is nothing wrong with that. That being said, adding some herbs, spices and genuine flavor isn’t either. It is important that you do not dread putting that unseasoned piece of chicken in your mouth at mealtime.
  3. Manage the quantity you are cooking – It is a common misconception that food prep just needs to make you a lot of food. And yes, while it is true that you are planning your meals for the future, it also means you should not overtax yourself. Having four pots on the stove, a casserole dish in the oven and chopping something all at once might be a little much. Cook what is manageable not just in size, but also time; cooking slowly becomes less fun when you spend two whole days doing it.
  4. Allow yourself some “cheat days” – The title of this one is a little bit of a misnomer, but please, please, please do not eat the exact same food for all three meals. Throw some variety in there, even if that means another meal prep meal. I like to try and reserve some time for other foods, cereal even, or going out to eat so that I can actually enjoy my meal prep more. Some people even restrict it to just meal prepping their lunches. 

With these four tips, you can turn your meal prep into something that is actually enjoyable. Meal prep isn’t for everyone; some may not have access to a variety of foods and others may not have cooking equipment within reach, but it is a great journey for others. If you are thinking about going down the meal prep path, I would urge you to make it sustainable and follow these steps.

If you have some meal prep recipes you are proud of or are jumping into meal prep yourself, comment below or tag us with the hashtag #cookingwithcarson