University & Bodybuilding – Bon Appétit!

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Bodybuilding and meal prep – what a dilemma. There I was in my dorm room with two mini stovetops, two pans, a mini oven and a whole bunch of chicken. I was cooking everything from chicken to sweet potato, from ground beef to buckwheat. Unfortunately, one of the rules in a dorm room is you can’t do any sort of cooking whatsoever. You’ll be lucky if you can make yourself a bowl of Ramen. So I, therefore, was taking a huge risk, but as long as my window was open and I made very little noise, I got away with it. It also helps if your roommate keeps his mouth shut! I did that for two years. God knows how I managed it, but it was worth it when you’re in contest season and focused on macros. Prepping your food takes a lot of time out of your day. I used to study and cook my food at the exact same time, or I would do all of my work first and cook all of my food before the crack of dawn. Food is one of the basic essentials we need to survive in this world, and in our cause to build muscle as well, we require a lot more food. Which means spending a lot more money. At one point, I sold my food credits that the University gave me to buy food at the school cafeteria. I did that so I could have some extra cash on me to buy my own food. I may have been missing out on sushi, burgers and fries with my friends, but I preferred to eat clean and stay fit then be slow, fat and sluggish.

So here are some tips on how to meal prep in college. Before we cook our food, we have to buy it, and whether you’re using your parents’ credit card or your own cash, you don’t want to go over your budget or buy too little or too low quality. Once that is out of the way, the question is, what do I cook it on or in and the better question is where do I cook it?  While I am no longer living in a dorm room, my lifting buddies that are still living in dorm rooms said a lot has changed for the better. I haven’t been to every University in the U.S. or Canada, so these tips and tricks may not apply to all, but I want to share them with you nonetheless. This article will cover how to shop, save, cook, and a couple other fun facts that my buddies have shared with me, including where they cook their food now.

1.  Supersavers and Coupons

Before you step out of the house, grab a newspaper and see if you can find any flyers or the supersavers when you go grocery shopping. Right away, this is a big plus on saving money on food. Always look for great deals that are going on at your local grocery store, Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, etc. It will take five minutes of your day, but trust me. It will be worth it when you see your bill.

2.  Bulk up

Okay, so you’re in the grocery store. You know what you have to get and you know were everything is. You’re on a mission, but how much food should you buy? Well, you should know by now how much you eat during the week, and you know how long it’s going to last you (if you don’t, keep a written list of everything you eat in a week and total up the quantities of each food). The obvious answer is, buy in bulk. You’ll save a lot more than buying individual chicken, eggs, rice cakes and a few little fun snacks. However, I must warn you. When you’re about to buy something in bulk, always check the expiration date, and if you’re picky like me, make sure your meat is organic. You don’t want any fillers in your meat. Some beef and poultry companies today still do that when they sell their products in bulk. The good news is that’s slowly changing. More people are demanding more organic meat, and people are starting to buy more local meets and produce, especially from area farms, so if you want to, go ahead and go big: buy a free range chicken or half a cow. Be my guest.

3.  Stay Fresh 

Now that you bought all your food, you don’t want it to spoil. If you have a mini fridge in your dorm room great, but you better be able to fit everything in it. That’s another thing to know is how much you’ll be able to fit in your mini fridge, if you have one. If you are apart of a frat house, you will certainly have a big enough fridge to fit it all in once you move the booze somewhere else. One of my good lifting buddies is still living in a dorm room on campus. He said that the cafeteria has made a deal with student athletes that buy their own food that the cafeteria doesn’t offer or students on a special diet recommended by their coach. Students can keep the food in the university fridge, as long as they label it with their name. The university will also allow them to use the cafeteria’s kitchen when it’s closed to cook their meals. Before you try to store half a cow in a mini fridge in your dorm, talk to the cafeteria staff and see what deal you can work out.

4.  “Me Need Fire”

If you can’t use the school’s cafeteria and you don’t want to take the risk of cooking in your dorm room like I did, there are still many other options on where to cook and what to use to cook your food on or in. You and I both know that we’ll go to extreme lengths to cook our food and stay on plan. It may get to the point where we’ll do something ridiculous, but we need to eat! I have heard some stories from other people on what they have done, but out of all of them, I chose these wise tales to share with you because these stories are a little bit more intelligent then the others.

  • BBQ – there is no rule about not having a barbecue on school grounds (but please check your own school rules – if they are prohibited, try using a grill at an area park). If it’s a beautiful sunny day and you have a mini or large portable barbecue, preferably charcoal, light that sucker up and start cooking! It’s a fun and fast way of prepping your meals. If you need to cook some rice, grab a pot, fill it with water and rice, and throw it on the BBQ. Oh yes, it works. I myself did the whole barbecue thing for a bit when it was nice and hot out, but when you live up north in Canada it tends to get pretty cold pretty fast so cooking indoors was a little more ideal the minute old-man winter came through. If I went to school where it was hot all year around and I had nowhere else to cook my food, I would be cooking my food outside on my barbecue all day long.
  • Friend’s House – another friend uses her girlfriend’s house to cook all her meals, with permission of course! Her girlfriend lives very close to the University, so there’s no point for her to get a dorm room and she prefers to live at home. They are both women’s figure competitors, so they do their cooking together when they can. Her friend’s parents don’t mind, so she has the keys to the house and the whole kitchen is at her disposal. To make sure she is always welcomed, she cleans up the mess she made and leaves no Tupperware or shakers in the sink. If we cooked with it, we better clean it!
  • Family Restaurant – if you thought cooking at your best friend’s house was a lifesaver, here’s an even better one. One of my buddies does judo at a very competitive level and has to watch what he eats. When he has time between classes, he cooks his meals at his family’s restaurant. The restaurant is a few steps from the University. Everything is at his disposal as long as he doesn’t get in the way of his father when he’s cooking. This is my favorite part. When he’s really crunched for time, he gets one of his parents to cook his meals for him in the restaurant. He’s one lucky S.O.B.! As long as his parents go easy with the olive oil and don’t go too heavy on the feta, he’ll be ready to kick ass and take names a lot sooner than expected.

5.  Order from a Meal Prep Service

After all these tips that I’ve given you on where the shop for your food, how to shop for your food, where to store your food, what to cook your food on or in and where to cook your food, now you tell me you can’t cook to save your life. You’re one of those people who are so bad at cooking that when you open a box of cereal and pour it into a bowl, it will instantaneously burst into flames. You can try adding milk, but you’re afraid you just might make it worse. You don’t know how to cook, you don’t like to cook and you’re not afraid to admit it. Fine so be it, but you’re not alone. I’ve met quite a few bodybuilders that hate cooking with a passion. They’ll go as far as cooking rice or making a sandwich. Luckily for people like you, there are places that make your meal for you. You clearly know what I’m talking about, but for the ones that don’t, there are places that will prepare your meals for you. All you have to do is order, pay and go pick them up. If you’re lucky, they may even deliver them to you. You’ll probably spend the exact same amount or a bit more than you would spend on groceries. There are a ton of these little meal prep places, as I like to call them. There’s one within the gym I train at. You can ask around or hit the web and look them up. You’re bound to find one, and it will make your life a lot easier. I mean a lot easier! When doing your research, make sure they’re well recommended, they have very high standards on what type of food they cook, they’ll accommodate each meal to your needed macros, and they aren’t afraid to add flavor to your food. I’ve known some meal prep places that cook some dirt dry food. It’s good nonetheless when you’re cutting, but there will be a point you want to sprinkle saw dust on your meal just to make it taste better.

If you have any interesting stories on how you used to or still cook your food at University, go ahead and share it with us. We want to hear it all, baby! Thanks for reading.

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Aleksander Forian
A former rugby player from Montreal, Canada, Aleksander holds a D.C.E. in Social Science (Sports & Leisure) from Vanier College and is currently studying Fine Arts and Nutrition at Concordia University. Combining his artistic talent with his passion for fitness, he founded and runs Old-School Bodybuilding Apparel in 2014, a company that produces apparel screened with original renditions of the great legends of bodybuilding. Aleksander is a certified lifeguard at West-Island YMCA and spends his free time building his company, working as a freelance artist, and training as a bodybuilder. He also works with others in the fitness industry to choreograph posing routines. He placed 5th in the 2013 IDFA Montreal Classic in the Novice, Lightweight division; 4th in the 2014 IDFA Montreal Classic in Novice, Lightweight division; and 3rd in the 2014 IDFA Mississauga International Championship in the Novice, Lightweight division. He trains at Monster Gym in West-Island. INSTAGRAM: AleksanderForian

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