Photo: Raw mixed Vegetables and chickpeas

Meal prepping is everywhere these days. Do a YouTube search of this term and you’ll be in a deep rabbit hole of methods, recipes, and more. It can be intimidating! You watch a 3-minute video and the results are 10-12 beautiful little meals ready to pop in the fridge. They make it look so easy! It seems like so much work but who has the time?? And also did I mention that it seems like a lot of hard work? While I’m not sure if you could really do a successful meal prep that wouldn’t require any work whatsoever, it’s probably a lot easier than you think.

The Down to Earth Marketing team recently visited the new Hale Mahana Apartments – a new student housing development near the King Street store. This is a brand-new building with amazing amenities including a rooftop common area with a fitness center, study rooms, and great views. While this was impressive, what struck me the most were the adorable kitchens in the apartments. These little kitchens are a far cry from than the electric hot pot and hot plate that I used to cook with in college. I was instantly jealous! But despite having a limited “kitchen” in college – does your nightstand count as a kitchen counter? – I whipped up a lot of food using just those two appliances, a cutting board, and a knife. Going to school full time along with having a full-time job meant that there wasn’t a lot of time to think about food.

Since visiting the new apartments, it got me thinking about how much time I spend on cooking nowadays. As a real “adult”, I feel much lazier when it comes to cooking then I did as a college student. My college-self may have had restricted funds and time, but those limitations probably made life a lot easier. There’s only so much you can cook for the whole week on a tight budget in a 2 hour window between classes and work. My college-self made a game plan and just did it - mostly because I had no choice. I would cook quick and easy meals and then move on.

Sometimes I can feel my adult-self spiral out of control just thinking about what to cook when I get home from work. Without a plan or anything already prepped, I can stare at the contents in my fridge for hours – ok more like 15 minutes but it sure feels like hours. By the time I figure it out, I’m tempted to just eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and call it a day.

When I was in college, I had a very hectic life: going to classes, doing extracurricular stuff, working a lot and, you know, just trying to find myself. And yet, even in my most frantic period of college life, I would crank out my meal prep like any other assignment - usually oatmeal or cereal in the morning with some blueberries and honey if I was feeling fancy. Lunch would usually be a cold pesto pasta salad and then dinner might be rice with curry. It wasn’t difficult at all even with my limited time and resources. Taking the decision-making out of what to cook is the key element. You take a little bit of time to plan it. Shop and prep for it takes understandably a little more time but then that’s it. You go home, you open the fridge, and you just need to serve it. Wow, what a concept!

While I’m not going to break down any meal prep plans here, I think the takeaway is if you want to do more meal prep (I know I do!) and are having a hard time of it (yep!), just embrace the inner efficient college kid in you. Keep it simple, don’t go overboard with fancy ingredients or techniques, cook meals you actually want to eat and not just because that’s what your favorite Instagrammer is eating at the moment.

Don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging without at least one recommendation for meal prep: “Raising Healthy Kids in a Hectic World”. Even if you don’t have kids, like me, it still covers all the basics of meal prep and is probably more applicable to adults than we would like to admit.

Good luck on your meal prep! If you do end up doing some meal prep soon, don’t forget to snap a pic and tag us on Instagram @downtoearthhi so we can be thoroughly impressed by your domestic prowess.