Being a self-acclaimed foodie, I joined the IGNITE’s Food section thinking I knew all about the wonders of gastronomy, but it was there that I learned the wonders of food prep.
To most people who have gotten tired of on-campus food options and wish for more varieties, the most logical alternative would be to meal prep. Meal prep is not only healthier in terms of managing your own diet and nutrient intake, but also significantly cheaper than buying food.
However, there are many complications that come with meal prep, such as accommodation rules, buying groceries, having a sizeable kitchen, and a decent food storage. Initially, I thought the same that meal prep is too much of hassle and quite the impossible task for a student amidst a jam-packed schedule. However, one of the writers in Ignite’s Food section shared with me how she did her meal prep on-campus, and that really motivated me to try my own meal prep for a week.
The first step I took to meal prep was to have a menu for the week. I planned to cook 4 meals for the week and thought of what each dish would be. The end result:
- Pasta stir-fry
- Asian Pasta salad
- Chicken salad wrap
- Potato Hash
If you’re like me who seeks varieties in every meal, think of different ways you can use each ingredient. I bought chicken breasts and used them in both the pasta stir-fry and chicken salad wrap.
Meal Prep 1: Chicken Salad Wrap
Once you have your menu, list down the groceries you need to buy. To save money, think of how one ingredient from a dish can be used to substitute another ingredient from a different dish. If you don’t want to wait for the bus to Tesco from campus, there is always the option of shopping online and having it delivered to your accommodation. While we were taught to be skeptical about such services, I know some friends who ordered online, and their responses were not bad, to say the least. A tip is to have them deliver in the mornings, so the helpers would pick out the ingredients in the morning, where they are fresher.
If you do have transport, I suggest going to Segi-Fresh in the morning or noontime. Located right behind McD Semenyih, it’s a shorter drive compared to Tesco and offers fresher (and sometimes realllllly cheap) ingredients. An important skill in buying groceries is to be able to estimate the correct portion to buy. There’s no exact rule other than reading the serving options in the packaging, but I would like to think that this is a skill that can be learnt.
Meal Prep 2: Pasta Stir-Fry
The next step after getting your grocery is to begin cooking. If you’re cooking for someone else in addition to yourself, have them help you during the cooking process. I would also suggest visualising the cooking process in your head before actually cooking and have all the required utensils and kitchen tools (e.g. can opener) out of the drawers to make the cooking process easier. Another tip is to have one-pot dishes. Rice cookers can do wonders if you’re having one-pot meals, and even when you have a frying pan, a one-pot dish means less cleaning and cooking time altogether. For my meals, they only involved heating up 3 ingredients separately.
Meal Prep 3: Potato Hash
Lastly, storage is essential to meal prep. You obviously want your meal prep to last you throughout the week. The tip is to drain off all the liquid and cool your food completely before placing it into the fridge. Put them in air-tight containers (something you might wanna include in your shopping list) and the meals could probably last around 4-5 days in the fridge. If the condition of the fridge is appalling, I would suggest placing the containers in seal bags before going into the fridge.
Having done meal prep for a week, I realised that the price is definitely cheaper and that you can cook your preferred meal choices without having to eat within the confines of on-campus food options and not worry if a certain stall is running out of food. But an undeniable factor is that it is really time-consuming with the all the time required to cook and go buy groceries. However, if time’s not a worry, I would strongly recommend meal prep!
Lastly, let me share the recipe of my favourite meal out of the 4 dishes:
Asian Pasta Salad
- 1/2 pack of pasta
- 2 large chicken breasts
- 4 eggs
- Sesame oil
- Soy sauce
- Green onion
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place the chicken breasts in a pot coated with oil and stir fry until fully cooked. Take them out of the pan and allow to rest.
- Add oil and salt into a pot of water and cook pasta until al dente.
- While pasta is cooking, shred the chicken into fine strips with 2 forks.
- Once pasta is done, drain them and coat with sesame oil to prevent sticking together.
- Add soy sauce and pepper to taste. Mix and coat well. (Remember, you can always add more but not take out.)
- Fry the eggs (however you like them) and add it on top of the pasta.
- Chop up some green onion and sprinkle them on top of the pasta.
I hope that this has inspired you to try out meal prepping for a day or even a week. Let us know in the comments below what sort of difficulties you face while meal prepping or what you enjoy about it!
Featured Image from FLYEfit
Written by Andrew Ng