Ask anyone who knows me to tell you something about me, and I guarantee you, one of the first things they will say is “Sarah LOVES food”. It’s true – I LOVE food. I also love cooking. And eating healthy. I believe that a healthy relationship with food can provide one with a level of satisfaction rarely achieved by other behaviors.
So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that when I started the WPMBA program this past summer, one of my biggest concerns was “WHAT am I going to eat for dinner? And WHEN am I going to eat it?” With just barely enough time to get to class form my job in the Polaris area, eating before class was not an option. Plus, who wants to eat at 5:30? Not this girl, who is used to eating after work and the gym, not a minute before 8 pm. I also was concerned about maintaining my healthy eating habits and keeping my bank account in check.
Rest assured – I was quickly able to figure out the Art of Eating in Grad School. After just a couple of classes, my new MBA friends noticed by “unusual” eating habits and quickly became jealous. So, I thought I would use this blog post as an opportunity to share some of my tricks for eating well in grad school:
1. Plan, Plan, Plan.
You’ve heard it before – eating healthy takes some planning. This is especially true when you have to pack your meals, and don’t have the luxury of a kitchen when it’s time to eat. Each weekend, I take a look ahead at the upcoming week and ask myself: “How many days do I need to pack my lunch and/or dinner?” If I need to pack my lunch Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, that means I will need to pack a total of 5 meals this week – 3 lunches and 2 dinners (class on Tuesday and Thursday).
2. Decide what you like to eat.
I love salads of all kinds. I also like sandwiches. And soup. And all sorts of other warm and yummy food. I find it it’s much easier to bring a cold meal for eating during class. So, on the days I have class, I try to eat a warm lunch – like heating up leftovers (chicken enchiladas, spaghetti, etc.) or soup with a sandwich. And then, for dinner, I almost always bring a big salad. It may sound boring, but I promise – it’s anything but!
3. Go Grocery Shopping.
After I have figured out how many meals I need to pack for the week, I hit up the grocery store, usually on Sundays. I stock up on the items I need to get through the week – mostly fresh produce and dairy. I always keep the staples in my cupboard – bread, crackers, cans of beans and soup, etc.
4. Cook – Just a Little.
As WPMBA students, it’s hard to find the time for things other than work and school. But, a little bit of time in kitchen on the weekends will really go a long way in making for an easier week. Try to carve out an hour or two – for me, usually Sunday evenings – to do some prep for the week. Cut up your veggies to throw into salads all week. Cook some pasta or potatoes for quick, easy add-ins. If you want to get real crazy, grill some chicken or bake some tofu (it’s good, I promise) – or just stock up on canned tuna or meat from the Deli case.
It’s Monday night – you just got home from a long day at work, and maybe the gym (I teach a spinning class at Urban Active on Monday nights), and you are tired and need to prep for class the next time. But you also need to eat dinner, right? So, when you are making dinner, pack your lunch and/or dinner for the next day. It’s so much easier than waking up early to do it, and your kitchen is already a mess! Plus, if you’ve done some pre-prep like in step 4, it won’t be very hard.
6. Eat out – sometimes.
Even for a healthy cook like me, sometimes I am just too tired, busy, and bored to pack yet another meal for work and class. So, when those feelings strike, I let myself off the hook and plan to eat a couple of meals out. For me, that’s usually lunch – it’s a nice break from the office and a chance to connect with work colleagues.
I hope you have found these tips helpful. What are some of your suggestions for eating in grad school?