For many students, busy schedules and tight budgets get in the way of a healthy, balanced diet. This is where the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Meal Kit Mondays come in.
Meal Kit Mondays offer students affordable, nutritious meals that can be cooked at home. Starting on Sept. 26, students can pick up meal kits, which are becoming more popular with the demand for simplicity.
“Over the past couple years, we've been averaging about 20 meal kits per Meal Kit Monday. With some publicity and fine-tuning the program, we are averaging about 90 meal kits and growing,” said Brenna Schmader, UNL’s Campus Recreation Nutrition Education Coordinator and Registered Dietitian.
Meal Kit Mondays – which started in 2018 – occur twice a month, and each meal kit must be ordered before said deadline. Students can purchase this month’s meal kit until the end of the day on Wednesday, Sept. 21.
Then, ingredients are purchased for each order and are placed into to-go boxes, along with a recipe card. Each selection includes two meat-based entrees and one plant-based entree.
The kits are only $3.75 per person, much cheaper than most subscription meals.
Students and staff can pick up their meal kits Monday afternoon from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Wellness Kitchen inside the Recreation and Wellness Center on East Campus. Entree options for the first Meal Kit Monday of the school year include deconstructed chicken pot pie, mini taco pizzas and vegetarian chow mein.
Many students on campus do not have the drive to cook. Cooking becomes a challenge when students have to purchase the groceries, choose which ingredients are nutritious and potentially face financial scarcity due to higher grocery prices following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With MKM’s growing popularity, we are looking to provide a 6-month recipe cycle beginning in the spring and potentially offer MKMs every week,” Schmader said. “The exponential growth in MKM popularity is uplifting because this is a great program for our student staff, who develop the content and put together the meal kits, to learn about nutrition education program management.”
According to Schmader, students are realizing that eating healthy is important even though it is not always the easiest option. Schmader said she is determined to teach students that eating healthy can be affordable, entertaining and appetizing.
“Students, faculty and staff report loving this service because it provides them with quick, easy and nutritious meals. Which is exactly our goal: to provide the campus community with affordable balanced meals they can replicate at home,” Schmader said.
Schmader said there are many pros to these meal kits: All recipes are approved by a dietician and licensed medical nutrition therapist, the kits offer a variety of food exposure, they are user-friendly and there is no subscription.
"My staff and I hope that MKM helps show people how easy and enjoyable eating balanced meals can be,” Schmader said.