Friday Chit Chat Vol 12. | How to Start Meal Planning for Beginners!

While I love blogging and wish I could post more than once a week, senior year is in full swing and responsibilities are taking over. I just don’t have the time that I want to knock out high-quality posts more than once a week (without losing valuable sleep). That being said, I really want to beef up these Friday Chit Chats. My idea is that I’ll slightly convert a normal blog post into more of a personalized chat about whatever the week brings me to write about. I think this will help me give all that college advice that y’all love while also keeping you up to date about my life! Sound good? Great-because that’s we are doing.

After California (which was basically an excuse to take a vacation from eating healthy}, My body hated me. I was super sluggish and never felt like going out and being social. I’m sure you can imagine how that would put a damper on senior year. It wasn’t until a couple days after classes started that I finally snapped out of this rut. So, today is all about how meal prepping literally saved my life! Let’s get started >>


Breaking Past the Wall of Doubt

So, for me, the biggest reason I hadn’t started meal planning was: I doubted that it would be a sustainable practice in my busy college life. I thought there was no way that I would be able to maintain actually eating meals that I had already cooked for an entire week! As a college student who is not a gourmet chef, you very much can start meal prepping. More importantly, you can maintain it with a little discipline and a tight wallet! There are so many benefits for starting to meal prep. I eat healthier overall and save a ton of money.

Like if we compare the money I spent on food in the first week of class to what I spent meal prepping for the week, it’s kinda crazy. Around $100 for eating out and $40-50 for meal prepping. It actually turns out that I was making too much food for a week, and really the total costs would have been lower. Basically, the pros outweigh the cons. The only true con is having to eat basically the same 1-3 things every day. Let’s be honest though; you would be eating from the same 1-3 places throughout the week too!

Meal Plan vs. Meal Prep

This is actually a two step process and it’s exhilarating because it actually forces you to get your life together every week. First, I start with meal planning which forces me to also plan out the rest of my week. I head to my handy dandy Erin Condren and fill in where I’m in class and any extra meetings I may have. Once, I know when I’ll need to have food prepared and for what days, then I figure out exactly what I want each day. I try and mix in two different options for each meal.

This week, for example, we had some pretty solid options on the menu:

Breakfast:
Option 1- 1/2 Cinnamon Raisin Bagel + Mixed Fresh Fruit + Iced Coffee
Option 2- Greek Yogurt + Frozen Fruit + Honey Almond Granola Parfait

Lunch & Dinner:
Option 1- Baked Salmon + Sheet Pan Veggies
Option 2- Chicken + Broccoli Alfredo Pasta

Snacks:
Bananas
Mixed Fresh Fruit Cup
Skinnypop
Kashi Granola Bars
Smoothies for Post Workout!

MEAL PREP TIME

Okay, so once you make up your plan, it’s time to prep all your food. I would recommend freshly preparing any meals where you have time and only refrigerating pre-prepared food for when you have no time at all. I only keep cooked salmon and meats around for 3-4 days. So, I prepared two large salmon filets and then split it into 4 servings on Sunday and one of the portions for dinner that night! I made the chicken Monday night but made sure to throw the frozen tenderloins in the fridge to thaw out. The pasta lasted me until the end of the week!

Roasted veggies are usually fine in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. I base my shelf life on how the texture and taste hold up! I  mix up my options between broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, potato, and mushrooms! Mix them all up with olive oil and Mrs. Dash Seasoning Salt and they are ready to bake at 450 degrees for around 30-40 minutes!

I also prep all my fruits for the fruit cups and smoothie jars! Frozen fruit and spinach can be stored in mason jars and tossed in the freezer to easily have the smoothie base all ready to go! I just add vanilla Greek yogurt, almond milk, and a packet of Truvia! Then, just blend it up! I typically go for a berry medley, mangos, and frozen banana for my fruit selection!

Fruit cups are just whatever looks good in the store when I go shopping. Grapes, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are my current favorites!

This Week’s Schedule!

So, my grand schedule for the week ended up being:

Monday:

B: Cinnamon Raisin Bagel + Cream Cheese + Iced Coffee
MS: Skinny Pop
L: Salmon + Roasted Veggies + Water
AS: Fresh Fruit Cup
D: Chicken Alfredo Pasta + Water

Tuesday:

B: Greek Yogurt + Fruit+ Honey Almond Parfait
MS: Kashi Granola Bar
L: Chicken Alfredo Pasta + Water
AS: Post Workout Smoothie
D: Salmon + Roasted Veggies

Wednesday:

B: Cinnamon Raisin Bagel + Cream Cheese + Iced Coffee
MS: Skinny Pop
L: Salmon + Roasted Veggies + Water
AS: Fresh Fruit Cup
D: Chicken Alfredo Pasta + Water

Thursday:

B: Greek Yogurt + Fruit+ Honey Almond Parfait
MS: Kashi Granola Bar
L: Panera w/ Ruth!!
AS: Post Workout Smoothie
D: Chicken Alfredo Pasta + Water

** I have Thursday night basically free to prep new meals for Friday**

Friday:

B: Mozzarella + Spinach Omelet
MS: Kashi Granola Bar
L: Southwest Chicken Salad
AS: Fresh Fruit Cup
D: Dinner Out with Friends!


I am still in need of a cute lunch box to keep everything in! I’m still using my raggedy one from high school and I am a senior in college now! Yikes. I hope y’all enjoyed this post and that it was informative! I actually do feel like I kind of have my life together and it was nice just throwing things in the microwave or easily preparing snacks. Now, here are some questions that you can answer so I can chat with y’all!

1. What’s the toughest thing about this semester so far?
2. Do you meal plan, buy food, a mix of both?
3. Did you make semester goals? How are they coming along?

My answers:

1. The toughest thing about this semester is definitely always being on the go! I didn’t realize that I would have a meeting/event almost every day of the week. I am definitely making the intentional move to take some days off. Thursdays are my favorite days now, where I cook and catch up on BIP.

2. Well, I am currently on a meal planning/prepping kick right now! I do make plans to grab food with people on the weekends though, so kind of a mix too!

3. My only major goal this semester was to live in the moment! I really want to be present in my senior year and make memories and progress relationships that matter. So far, I am definitely killing the making time to see friends which was huge going in for me. I definitely still have some work to do for those friends who are busier, but I’m pretty proud!

Alright, you know what to do!

keep on keepin’ on,

  • Cristina Mandujano

    Old navy had the cutest lunch boxes for $12!!!! I have the flower print one. They may even be on sale now that it’s a bit past back to school. I love mine! I’ve been meal prepping too. I love doing sheet pan veggies! Also now you have me craving salmon! Haha

    • Why did I not think of Old Navy!! Legit one of my favorite stores! Sheet pan veggies are so easy and so tasty! Thanks for reading girl!
      xo, G

  • thetrendychick

    I have been planning my meals the past two weeks and prepping on Sundays, and so far it has been working really well! It has definitely saved me a ton of money, but I am getting a little tired of just eating the same 2-3 things during a week. I need to come up with some new recipes!
    xo, Scarlett
    http://thetrendychick.blogspot.com

    • Yes, I’m kind of experimenting with all my recipes and meals too! I am REALLY afraid of tiring out of what I’m eating, but I think diversity will really help with that. Thanks for reading gal!
      xo, G

  • Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Can I say yes to this article one more time?? Meal prepping is the only way I get myself through the week. If I don’t have food in the fridge ready to go, I’m much more tempted to go hit up Chipotle on a daily basis. That’s not great for my waistline or my wallet, hahaha.

    • I knew that you would appreciate this post!! And, I don’t understand why I didn’t start doing this sooner. It literally has made my life so much easier, and I love all the prep work on Sundays too. #adulting Thanks for reading!!
      xo, G