In school and in the real world, schedules are jam-packed during the week. Sometimes you don't even know when you'll get the chance to eat lunch during the day. Mornings are busy and time seems to fly between the time you wake up to the time you need to be in clinic, class, or the office.
I struggle with never wanting to be late, but always wanting to make sure I have enough food to get me through the busy day ahead. This is where meal prepping comes in handy! I've found that if I just prep breakfast, lunch, and snacks on Sunday nights, my mornings are a breeze. When my mornings are a breeze, my day starts out stress-free, on-time, and with enough food to keep me energized all day!
Here, I have shared numerous recipes and meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks to get you through your busy week. Enjoy these grad school healthy meals and stay energized throughout your whole week!
Grad School Healthy Meals
I loveeee breakfast! It's by far my favorite meal. Since I usually workout in the morning, I'm always starving for breakfast, and I want to get something filling and nutritious in me right away. All of the following breakfast meals can be prepped for - even the eggs!
Sunny-Side Up Eggs Over Veggies
You might be thinking, how the heck do I meal prep for eggs?? Well, the hardest part about this meal is the cut-up veggies. Whenever you prep veggies for the week, set a couple portions aside for breakfast.
When you make this dish, toss the prepped veggies in a pan with your favorite oil and some spices. I'm partial to Kirkland brand's Extra Virgin Olive Oil. My favorite spices are fresh garlic (get the pre-minced kind in a jar and your favorite garlicky meals will be so much easier to make!), and Mrs. Dash's Table Blend!
Cook the veggies for 2-3 minutes before adding the eggs. Crack them right over the top of the veggies.
TIP: Add a few drops of water to an open spot in the pan and cover with a lid. The water + cover combination allows the slimy, stubborn part of the egg to actually cook along with the rest!
Add some pepper, avocado, and Siracha and you have yourself an easy, healthy, and filling breakfast to start your day!
Anyway, smoothies are super easy to prep, too. Simply cut up all your fruit and portion them into individual Ziploc baggies. In the morning, just grab one of the bags and empty the content into your mixer. Add some frozen cauliflower rice, greens, powders (protein, acai, super greens, or anything of the like), and about a cup of your choice milk. You can also pre-portion these items if you wish, but I just have the routine of tossing them in as I go!
As you mix your smoothie, add water or more milk as needed to get the consistency you like. I rarely have a consistent consistency (see what I did there) and I've been making one about 5 days/week for the last couple months. So don't be discouraged if it takes a while to learn how the ingredients mix and determine the proper amount of liquids to add in. My two favorite smoothie recipes are found below!
This one is my favorite!! I swear those Super Greens taste amazingly with all of these ingredients. When I don't add the Super Greens to a smoothie, I immediately notice a lack in flavor. They're just delicious!
Here's the recipe:
Combine it all and top with your favorite sliced fruit, nuts, seeds, etc.!
Okay so basically, adding the acai powder and blueberries to a very similar smoothie as the one mentioned above creates an intensely dark purple smoothie. I think it was the lighting in this one but just FYI even if it looks super dark it tastes wonderful!
This smoothie is so refreshing and delicious! It keeps me feeling energized all day long.
Overnight oats are also a new try for me! I love oatmeal (though it did take me until late high school to try it - I was a consistency freak, yogurt was off limits until then, too). For the past couple years, I've eaten Quaker's instant oatmeal packets both for breakfast and whenever I need something sweet after dinner and don't feel like going out for chocolate. But due to my newfound love of chia seeds, I decided to try overnight oats when I realized I loved overnight chia seed pudding so much.
The two kinds of overnight oats I make are maple and almond butter cinnamon. I add the oats and chia seeds in the bottom, fill most of the jar with almond milk, add some sweetener, and give it a good shake. Let them sit overnight up to 4 days. When it's time to take them to work/school or enjoy them at home, heat them up in 30-45 second increments until your preferred temperature.
Feel free to add protein powder to soak up any extra milk the next day. Add sliced banana, cinnamon, flax, hemp hearts, or any of your favorite toppings after it is warmed up.
Maple Overnight Oats
Top with banana, an extra drizzle of maple syrup, and flax!
Almond Butter Cinnamon Overnight Oats
I am almost always on the go for lunch, so meal prepping is super important (so that I don't end up spending all the money I make in a week on purchased food!). I typically make 4-5 salads for the week, and take along some fruit, chia seed pudding, and/or a granola bar for the days I'm uber hungry or will be on campus until dinner.
Lunch Salad Ingredients:
I love salads, so sticking to this simple mix has always worked for me. The only things I change up are the last two bullet points - protein/fat and dressing! I like all kinds of dressings, but my favorites are balsamic vinaigrette and a zesty Italian.
Sometimes I put half of a mashed avocado with salt & pepper on top and skip the dressing. I've also put a scoop of hummus on the veggies and mixed it all together, and it was absolutely delicious. The things you discover when you're short on time and low on options!
A simple change from day to day or week to week allows me to still look forward to these salads. Add hemp hearts on top, switch out some veggies, or change up the proteins and dressing to keep your taste buds interested!
If you absolutely can't do salads 4-5 days of the week, try for 3 days. Take 1 lunch a week as leftovers from the night before, or go to the market and pick up a freshly made sandwich or grain bowl for a change-up!
I've gotta have snacks on hand at all times. The snacks I usually have on hand are 1-2 of the following:
All of these are super simple to grab and go - especially when you have prepped the veggies and pudding.
Veggies for Hummus:
They're super easy to chop and separate into portions for the week!
Chia Seed Pudding:
I love this chia seed pudding! I know green pudding is weird, but I swear by these Super Greens. They taste sweet and sort of Vanilla-like, and I rarely add the honey when I use Super Greens because they add so much sweet flavor themselves.
Let this pudding refrigerate overnight for up to 3 days. Be sure to mix in the chia seeds well or they will clump instead of soak up the milk. Top it with blueberries, bananas, hemp hearts, and/or extra cinnamon to serve.
I love dinner, but hate how long it can take to cook! I usually cook dinner on Monday that I also eat Tuesday, and sometimes even Wednesday. Sometimes stick it out through Wednesday when I'm feeling extra lazy and cooked a delicious dinner that I want to keep eating!
Sheet pan dinners are my go-to. I first marinate some chicken, then cut up some veggies, and put them all on a pan together. I top it all with the marinade from the chicken and bake for 15-25 minutes at 400. Cubed chicken and chicken tenderloins typically only need about 15 minutes, while breasts will need about 25 depending on the thickness.
I also love cooking shrimp because it's super easy! I just buy the frozen kind that's already cooked, soak them in water to defrost, spice 'em up and cook for about 5 minutes. They are great on top of sauteed veggies or on tacos. I top my shrimp tacos with chopped peppers, mango, onion, and black beans with a side of guac. I highly recommend them!!
Burgers are a recent go-to of mine as well. I get some lean ground turkey and spice it up with minced garlic, onion, and Mrs. Dash Table Blend seasoning. Throw them on a skillet for about 4 minutes on each side, make sure they're at 165 degrees, and you've got a delicious homemade turkey burger! This is one you can easily take for lunch the next day as well! I love when I can get multiple meals from one-time cooking!
When I don't have any meat or am craving some grains instead, I do a veggie quinoa bowl topped with Siracha. It's simple and fast! Just boil equal parts quinoa and water for ~15 minutes. That gives you time to chop your favorite veggies and saute them up by the time the quinoa is finished. Quick and easy meal = I'm all about it!
Going out with friends, family, or my husband to dinner is something I also love to do! Even if it's just to grab a drink and some appetizers. I don't get to do this all that often with everyone's busy schedules, but when I do I try to get something healthy that won't totally break the bank.
This past week I went with some friends and my boyfriend to a local restaurant, and I had the most delicious Salmon salad! I swear I might have to get it every time I go back now. It has lots of cabbage, carrots, slivered almonds, and green onion as the base, with a Thai ginger dressing mixed throughout. The salmon was glazed with the same dressing and it all tasted incredible!
Though I do try to save money each week, times spent with family and friends are important to me, especially when we can share a meal and drinks together. It also allows me to live a balanced lifestyle in grad school. I eat healthy and save money grocery shopping each week. But 1-2 of my meals are enjoyed outside of school, work, or my home, and out having fun and eating something I didn't have to prepare myself.
Balance in grad school is extremely important. Bank accounts, diets, and overall work-school-fun lifestyle must all keep a good balance. So, if you slip up on your workout or meals one day - that doesn't mean it has to happen the next! And if you spend one day solely focused on school, take 30 minutes that night or the next day to watch your favorite show on Netflix, grab coffee with a friend, or take a bubble bath and read. If you have a balance, you will have a happy and healthy lifestyle that will allow you to excel through grad school!
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Thanks for reading! I hope this post has given you some cooking/health/meal prepping inspiration! These are some of my favorite grad school healthy meals, but I'd love to learn about yours! Feel free to drop a comment with your favorite meal and recipe, or let me know how you meal prep! I'm always looking for more ideas! Have a great day!