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At the beginning of the semester, we as students often have grand ideas of how the year is going to look. We imagine a future of healthy meals, excellent grades, and lively social lives. Not realizing that our goals require planning and dedication to be successful.

Student meals are often an afterthought in our day — a granola bar scarfed down in between classes, french fries from the closest fast food chain, and oftentimes, no meal at all just to save some time and money. However, we forget to prioritize the quality of our meals in the name of productivity. Our brain is the most energy-demanding organ and requires sufficient fuel to work at its highest capacity. An inadequate diet may hinder our academic performance over time as well as our mental health.

To help you avoid those late-night ramen runs during midterm season, here are some valuable tips:

Prioritize a Decently-Sized Breakfast

Prioritize Breakfast

Whenever I used to have breakfast, I was filled with an overwhelming nausea and heaviness in the pit of my stomach. I refused to eat breakfast for years and would wait until my head was spinning before eating anything — a big mistake. It is better to see a doctor about why you don’t like eating in the morning rather than avoiding the problem altogether.

For most people, a high-protein breakfast will energize you and keep your mind sharp during classes, without the subsequent crash. Your body will work with you if you prioritize its needs and listen to its symptoms — which usually point to a bigger issue that needs to be solved.

For those facing socioeconomic barriers to food, consider reaching out to university services, student groups, or government-funded programs. Fresh Routes offers affordable and nutritious produce options to support your daily nutritional needs.

Plan Your Meals For The Week

Balancing classes, extracurriculars, work, and volunteer commitments leaves little time for daily cooking. Consequently, many students resort to fast food for convenience. This is where meal prepping becomes your best ally.

Allocate a few hours on weekends to prepare at least one of your weekly meals. You can prepare lunches and dinners in advance or opt to cook dinner and purchase lunch at school. Meal prepping not only alleviates the constant cooking pressure but also ensures you receive the nutrients necessary for overall health and well-being.

To kickstart your meal prep journey, consider these recommendations from popular YouTubers:

1. Why You Should NEVER Meal Prep As A Student! (Kinda)

The YouTuber KWOOWK will walk you through a realistic meal-prepping session for a week, prioritizing taste, nutrition, and variety. He discusses secrets such as creating a magic sauce and freezing vegetables for a high-protein breakfast smoothie. 

2. Meal Planning As a College Student: Budget Friendly + Healthy

Riley Rehl is a senior college student living off campus who uses a more traditional meal-prepping strategy. She cooks two different recipes for the week (10 meals) and relies on grocery store varieties such as Greek yogurt for breakfasts and snacks. 

3. These 15 Minute Lunches Will Change Your Life 

Mike Greenfield shares four 15-minute lunch recipes that are designed to be light and fulfilling so that you don’t crash during the day. His meals include many food groups and are portable and tasty! 

4. Control Your Environment

At the end of the day, you are not wholly responsible for the food that you eat, as socioeconomic and time constraints can force you to choose foods that may not be the best for your health. However, temptation can be what is holding some students back from achieving their dietary goals. Try to avoid common restaurants and stores that you are drawn to and prepare ahead of time so that you are not buying meals for convenience. 

If you find yourself buying the same sugary drink every day — even though you do not want to drink it and know that you shouldn’t — you may be suffering from a bad habit rather than poor planning. Here are some resources that can help you escape a habitual rut:

If there is one thing that you should take away from this blog post, it is that you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself while trying to be healthy. The key is to limit the unhealthy food through a “reward” system rather than shunning it away altogether. You can enjoy a doughnut without feeling guilty if you have systems in place that allow you to eat healthy most of the time. 

Being a student is not easy. It takes a lot of willpower to wake up every day and power through our to-do lists, often not knowing where it will all lead — our meals don’t have to be this way. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner can be pillars of consistency that our bodies can rely on as we slowly organize our futures.     

Fresh Routes holds affordable markets at the following schools:

  • Mount Royal University: Every Monday, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • Bow Valley College: Every Tuesday, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • University of Calgary: Every Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

We would love to hear about how you use our affordable produce to meal prep and improve your diet and lifestyle!

Author: Nazeefa Ahmed