Confession time: I’m obsessive about planning and organizing. I colour code things. Everything, actually. I don’t have a problem, I swear! There’s a good reason though, students are busy! Especially midwifery and paramedic students.
Before midwifery school starts, I’m working full time and my partner is going to be school to be a paramedic. I started meal planning when he began riding out during his preceptorship. Twelve hour shifts are long days and especially long nights. We didn’t see each other as often as I would have liked but we made things work. I actually love meal planning, there’s nothing like having all your meals made for an entire week. It really reduces your stress to know that even just one thing is taken care of and it’s really not that hard, I promise.
To make things easier, I’m going to share my meal plan with you and a couple of recipes that I found easy to integrate.
So the meal plan is actually quite simple. I created a chart that has sections for the days of the week, meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks), and spaces for our schedules. It’s actually pretty economical as well. When you know exactly what you’re going to eat, you don’t buy in excess and then have rotting green peppers in your crisper. Notice that there’s a section in there for date night.
A word about date night: make one and don’t cancel it – for any reason. Life gets so busy and regardless of whether or not you are studying, committing a set time to see your partner is crucial. It will help keep your relationship thriving, keep your mental health in check, and give you some time to unwind!
My meal planning day is always Sundays. I start the morning by filling in the spaces of the week with meals I plan to cook. Once all those spaces are filled, I create the list. Then I’m off to the grocery store. I only buy what I’m planning on cooking. That way there’s no wasted food. I will say that it is easier to rotate between meals throughout the week. You can find more items in bulk (so it’s cheaper) and it’s much faster to cook that way.
The first few times I did the meal plan, I’ll be honest, it took me a couple of hours to cook all the food and store it in tupperware. But really soon I got the hang of things and it wasn’t taking me more than an hour to cook everything. My advice is optimize your cooking space and time.
Okay, so here’s what the plan looks like:
So there isn’t a lot of variety… but the food is relatively healthy and easy to cook. And you can always mix it up the next week.
Now we’re going to talk cooking strategy. First let’s tackle breakfast. Oatmeal is easy enough – boil and go – enough said. Breakfast Bites… These are really easy and quite good. You can find the recipe here. Basically they are like two bite egg muffins.
Next on the list is lunches. The chicken and fish go on the same baking sheet in the oven, so that’s easy. There’s no fancy recipe for chicken or fish. I usually just season as normal: if we’re having salmon, I’ll use some lemon and dill and the chicken is covered in a spice blend of some kind. So set those guys up and throw them in the oven together. Now you make the largest amount of servings of rice in one pot and steam a bunch of vegetables, I usually pick one such as broccoli or green beans. By the time your meat is done, the rice and veggies should also be finished. Most of the dinners I usually make right before we eat them but for example, this week, spaghetti can be made in advance and stored; and the steak literally takes five minutes to cook.
So we’re finished cooking! Set up your tupperware containers on the counter and dish it out! This is the best part – it’s so fun scooping rice and veggies into a tupperware lineup. Store it and you’re finished! That wasn’t so bad, was it?
Like I said, dinners I usually cook at night, I don’t always prep them. This cuts down my time in the kitchen on Sundays. If you need to have your dinners cooked as well, go for it! But make sure you have a big freezer, we often almost run out of room. You’ll notice on days that we’re both home, I’ve planned for soup and crackers, something that we can make easily while resting on our days off.
So that’s it! A (sun)day in the life of a soon to be student midwife (and paramedic!). I know being a student is hard as hell and at first meal planning just seems like one more thing on your plate (literally) but I promise it’s worth the couple of hours of prep on a Sunday afternoon. You’ll be thanking yourself later when you have healthy meals arranged for yourself and you’re feeling nourished and satisfied. I know empty stomachs cause a lot of grumpiness around here… Let me know if you found this plan helpful or if you have a different strategy, I’m always looking to improve my meal planning game!
Treat your body well and you’ll be a better student, now go have fun and plan a week’s worth of meals!