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Thursday, July 18, 2024

How do students balance schoolwork with nutrition?

UC Davis undergraduates share how they cook, meal-prep and grocery shop efficiently


By LYNN CHEN — features@theaggie.org


An important aspect of college life is being independent and that involves tending to daily tasks like cooking and grocery shopping while trying to keep everything within budget.

However, with papers and exam deadlines looming over one’s shoulder, sometimes it can be difficult to find the time and energy to prepare a proper full meal. How do various students go about this challenge? Is there an effective way to achieve academic success without sacrificing balanced and nourishing meals?

For second-year cognitive science major Chuyuan Wang, cooking has become something easy to master. 

“I prioritize finding foods that are easy and quick to cook,” Wang said. 

The foods Wang mentioned consist of simple and healthy ingredients that take little time to prepare into dishes.

“Cabbages, lettuce, potatoes, carrots — you can mix and match these easily with other meats and vegetables,” Wang said. “You can also store them for a very long time.”

Despite her statement, Wang admits that she still eats junk food quite frequently on school days.

“Since I don’t have much time to go home, I head to [the] Memorial Union a lot,” Wang said. 

Wang does not live on campus and therefore, transportation is a very time-consuming matter.

“I’ve been eating a lot of burritos and pizzas lately,” she said. “It’s a pretty easy way for me to get nutrition in between classes.”

Ellie Chareonsuphiphat, a third-year economics major, tries to overcome the difficulty of balancing school with making food by meal-prepping everything ahead of time.

“Students should schedule a time during the week to cook a larger batch of food,” Chareonsuphiphat said via iMessage. “[This] can then be eaten throughout the weekdays.”

Chareonsuphiphat said that she usually makes pasta or curry in bulk, but she also purchases mini salads from Trader Joe’s to eat for lunch.

“I also make sure to pre-cut my fruit so that I don’t have to worry about prepping [them] in the morning,” Chareonsuphiphat said.

Truc-Linh Dam, a second-year human development major, has a similar strategy to Chareonsuphiphat regarding how to save time when cooking meals at home.

“I like to prepare each ingredient separately ahead of time and then toss them together when I’m making a meal,” Dam said.

For instance, Dam likes to keep frozen vegetables as well as marinated tofu and chicken for future use. She also stores minced garlic, onions, shiitake mushrooms and other chopped vegetables in the fridge to save time when cooking throughout the week.

Additionally, Wang said she needs to consider costs while shopping for ingredients for her meals.

“I live by Safeway, so I use their digital coupons and student discount,” Wang said. 

Despite the time and effort required to prepare meals, a college student can be resourceful and strategic with the task to ensure they stay nourished and healthy.


Written by: Lynn Chen — features@theaggie.org



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