By Isabella Futchi
For a healthy New Year’s resolution, look no further than meal prepping.
Meal prepping means scheduling meals out for the entire week composed of healthy, nutritious ingredients such as fruits, vegetables and lean meats.
Jeanine Mincher, human ecology chair and director of the coordinated program in dietetics, said meal prepping can help students manage their time and select meals rich in nutrients.
“The biggest benefit for meal prepping is that when you plan ahead it enables you to select the nutrients that you need. If you don’t plan ahead, you end up scrambling for something that’s quick. Usually, when you’re grabbing something that’s quick, it’s less healthy,” Mincher said.
For those students who are just seeking healthy tips for the new year, Mincher suggests a plant-based diet and following the food recommendations and portion sizes from choosemyplate.gov.
However, Mincher’s recommendations for students meal prepping on a budget are to buy a slow cooker to cook food that will be ready by the end of the day, keep nuts or dried fruit handy as a snack instead of candy and eat more beans because they are both cheap and high in protein.
Jonathan Hronek, sophomore chemical engineering major, said he meal preps every Sunday by buying chicken and vegetables because they are inexpensive, in hopes that he will be able to focus more on his studies.
“It helps people manage their time better,” Hronek said. “I basically live at the library. It makes it so that I do not have to cook during the week, and I can just put more time into my studies,” he added.
If meal prepping is too much for some people to take on, there is a hometown alternative option: YoFresh Collective, a meal prep company.
YoFresh Collective was established in 2018 and is owned by Caroline and Don Ritenour. It creates different individually proportioned meals every week.
The standard price of 10 meals for one week is $100.
The orders are placed by Friday and in the person’s home by Sunday every week. The company offers delivery or pickup locations around the Mahoning Valley.
Caroline Ritenour, co-owner and chief operating officer, said college students have a hard time thinking about the implications of what they eat now on their future wellness.
“You can either pay for health and wellness now and have a better, longer life span or you’re going to pay for it later in medication, doctors’ appointments and not being able to do the things you want to do in life due to your health,” she said.
Caroline Ritenour’s suggestion for limited-budget meal prepping is shopping at Aldi because it is a low-cost grocery store that provides quality food that can be used in meal prepping.
She also agreed with Mincher that packing nuts or dried fruit in the car or in a backpack are quick and healthier snacks compared to candy or fast food.
“Make your eating a priority because if you are not eating right you are not going to feel good. And if you’re not feeling good, you’re not going to perform at your best physically or in the classroom,” Mincher said.