Healthy Back-To-School Meal Prep Ideas

Healthy Back-To-School Meal Prep Ideas
A new school year is the perfect time to plan a fresh start - you’ve already got the new backpack and a new class schedule, why not add in a new healthy routine, too? We love the idea of taking this time to revisit your personal wellness habits, starting with a careful look at what you’re putting into your body. It’s true, all that ice cream and BBQ was well worth it this summer, but as life starts to get busier and work and school demands begin to increase, our bodies will be craving some seriously healthy eats! Taking the time for a weekly meal prep session can be a perfect way to set yourself up for healthy-eating success all week, so you’ve got delicious (and healthy) meals and snacks ready to grab-and-go. And don’t be discouraged if you’ve only got a small college dorm “kitchen” available to you, either - this affordable meal prep plan we’re sharing below can be accomplished with only a fridge and a hot plate or microwave! 

We know how hard it can be to get out the door in the morning, so both of our breakfast options are easy to grab and enjoy on the go. Our simple Almond Butter Overnight Oats recipe is a nutrient-dense meal that can be easily modified and dressed-up to suit your needs! To mix things up, take a few minutes and assemble some simple Jam Parfaits using our Raspberry or Marionberry jams, some homemade or store-bought granola, and your favorite yogurt. In both these recipes, we love switching up the fruit based on the season, or stirring in a little collagen protein powder for an extra boost of protein.

Because the lunch hour can be so unpredictable, we like to keep our packed lunches simple and portable - that way if we’re forced to eat on the go, or only have a few minutes to nibble between meetings, we’ve got something ready that’s easy to eat. For the lunchbox purists, we love a classic Peanut Butter & Jam sandwich (especially when it’s made with a nutrient-dense multigrain bread) and a side of cut veggies. Or, for something more colorful, we also love whipping up Minimalist Baker’s Collard Green Spring Rolls - they’re beautiful and delicious, especially when paired with her Five-Ingredient Peanut Sauce. For this prep plan, we changed the Spring Rolls recipe slightly to use more of the produce we’d already selected for our dinners (see below) - so we swapped cilantro for the basil, and skipped the bean sprouts. 

The wait between lunch and dinner can feel endless, especially when you’ve got a long lab class or board meeting on the schedule. So having some filling snacks on hand is key. Some of our favorite snacks to make are our Protein Balls, which you can make with either almond or peanut butter, depending on your preference - they’re portable, substantial, and delicious! Depending on the season, we also love to have plenty of washed, prepared fruit in handy containers on hand, so we’ve got something to help beat that mid-afternoon sweet craving (something needs to replace that summer ice cream habit, right?). Or, if you’re in need of some serious protein between classes, try keeping a few peeled, boiled eggs in the fridge; or grab one of our single-serve packets on your way out the door! 

At the end of a long day, we’re ready for a meal that feels a little bit special. For warm late summer nights, you can’t beat a huge salad, packed with a rainbow of veggies and whole grains, like our Rainbow Bowls with Almond Butter Dressing (and trust us, this dressing is addictive, and you’re going to want to put it on everything). Or, for a bowl of something warm and cozy, we love tossing rice ramen noodles with thawed frozen veggie blends and topping it with peanut sauce. Both these meals are perfect for meal prepping, too - you can chop and prep a bunch of your favorite veggies for use in both the Spring Rolls for lunch and the Rainbow Bowls for dinner, and you can use Minimalist Baker’s Peanut Sauce both for dipping your Spring Rolls and for dressing up your dinner noodles! 

The Budget
We know, for college students especially, that budgets can be tight - but luckily, with proper planning and execution, eating healthy on a budget is possible! When you break it down across a five-day school week, this meal plan comes out to about $16 a day for three full meals and a hearty snack. Not too shabby, right?  

If you're really curious about the numbers, here’s a breakdown of how much this one-week meal plan cost us. Please note that most pantry items like spices and olive oil are not included in this breakdown - but we did our best to include absolutely everything else, including our nut butters and jams! 

Item Price
Collard Greens, 1 bunch $1.99
Cucumber, 1 $0.79
Organic Apple, 1 $0.49
Organic Carrots, 1/2 lb $0.50
Organic Cilantro, 1 bunch $1.49
Organic Corn, 1 cob $0.79
Organic Grape Tomatoes $2.99
Organic Plums, 1/2 lb $1.75
Organic Purple Cabbage, 1 head $1.49
Organic Raspberries, 6 oz $2.50
Organic Salad Greens, 5 oz. bag $1.99
Organic Strawberries, 1 lb $2.99
Red Bell Pepper, 1 $0.99
Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk, 64 fl oz $2.99
Hard-cooked cage-free eggs, 2 $1.99
Plain Yogurt, 16 oz $2.75
Tofu, Firm Organic $1.79
Organic Garbanzo Beans, 1 15 oz can $0.99
Bulk Granola - 1/2 lb $3.00
Bulk Organic Chia Seeds - .2 lb $1.60
Bulk Organic Rolled Oats - 1 lb $1.49
Rice Ramen, 3 servings $2.25
Organic Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread $2.99
Frozen Mixed Vegetables, 12 oz. bag $1.99
Frozen Quinoa, 12 oz. bag $3.99
Spread The Love® Raspberry Artisan Jam  $9.99
Total $80.74
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