There are lots of healthy meals for college students that are also easy to make. Here are 10 great recipes that all college students can make.
With all the hustle and bustle of college life, students may forget how important it is to eat healthy. Moreover, many students may think healthy meals are too expensive, resorting to the cheaper and unhealthy food from fast-food restaurants or from the supermarket. But the truth is that there are healthy meals for college students that are both cheap and delicious.
Whether you study at a traditional university or are earning a degree entirely online like those enrolled at University of the People, eating is an important part of a student’s life. We put together 10 great recipes that every college student will be able to afford and be able to make with no difficulty.
How to Eat on a Budget
We all know how being a student can make a dent in your wallet. It’s essential for students to set a budget so that you don’t find yourself in unnecessary debt. But as much as people think eating healthy is expensive, that isn’t always the case. It’s absolutely possible to keep a healthy and balanced diet on a budget. These are tips to help you on a healthy and low-cost path.
1. Set a Budget
Setting a budget may not come naturally to everyone, but like many things – it’s a matter of practice makes perfect. Try to figure out how much you can afford to spend on groceries, make a budget, and stick to it as much as possible.
Let’s say you choose to spend $40 a week for groceries. That will be enough to buy the food you need for the week. And if you use the next tips, you’ll see that you can be smart about your food buying and preparation.
2. Where You Shop Makes a Difference
Not all supermarkets are alike. Sure, they all have food, but their selection and prices vary greatly. Look for a supermarket in your area that has better prices than the rest. Even a dollar or two off each item can save you a lot over time.
When it comes to the kitchen staples, like flour, olive oil, bread, and similar foods, it might make sense to buy a large quantity at one time and you won’t have to buy them each week. Many times, larger quantities have cheaper price tags. Which brings us to the next tip — buying bulk can save you money!
3. Buy Bulk
Bulk items can save you a lot of cash. Stores like Costco, for example, have only bulk items. And it can be worth it to make a trip every once in a while to stock up. You’ll be saving money in the end by not needing to buy those foods every week. Typical bulk items include olive oil, oatmeal, rice, quinoa, flour, honey, and pasta. These are things that last long in the pantry and you can use every week in healthy meals.
Here’s a tip: freeze your bread! It will keep you from having to throw it out after a few days and wasting half of the bag that you bought. Whenever you want toast, just take out a slice or two, pop the bread in the toaster, and voila!
4. Look for Sale Items
Sale prices are a definite must for budget-buyers and every single supermarket has sale items. A good idea is to go to the grocery store with an open mind. Let’s say you want to make a recipe that calls for red bell peppers, but the green ones are on sale. Buy the green ones!
5. Meal Prep
A great way to save money on groceries is preparing meals at the beginning of the week and then you have stuff to eat all week. It’s all about making larger meals and bulk snacks and putting them in containers, ready to just take out and heat up or eat as is. Some ideas for meal prep are overnight oatmeal, cut up veggies, pasta salad, soup, hard boiled eggs, and energy balls. And there’s so many more options.
Healthy Meals for College Students
These are meals that aren’t only healthy, they’re easy to make and inexpensive! Here are great meal ideas that won’t make a dent in your bank account and promisingly tasty, not to mention good for your health.
1. Overnight Oatmeal
Regular oatmeal is also an awesome breakfast meal, but if your mornings are a bit rushed, then this is the perfect breakfast on the go.
- Ingredients: ½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats, ½ cup water, little bit of salt, ½ cup blueberries, 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon toasted chopped pecans (or other nuts), 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup or honey
- Directions: Combine oats, water and salt in a mason jar or bowl. Simply cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, you can heat it up if you want or leave cold, and top it with the blueberries, yogurt, pecans and syrup.
2. Avocado Toast
Avocados are a superfood, low in saturated fat and high in valuable nutrients, like vitamin K, potassium, folate, and vitamin C. It’s a great way to get some energy in the morning, but it can also be made as a snack too. Simply make some toast and spread some fresh avocado on top. Put some sliced tomatoes or bell pepper on top for some added taste and nutrients.
3. Veggie Omelet
A great way to get protein in your diet is to eat eggs. Add some veggies to that omelet and you got yourself a nutrient-packed breakfast that will keep you full until the next meal.
- Ingredients: 2 eggs, veggies of your choice (spinach and mushrooms are great to add to omelets and they’re super healthy)
- Directions: Whisk up the eggs in a bowl and add the spinach. Fry together in the pan. If you’re adding mushrooms, it’s best to fry the mushroom first and then add the whisked eggs to the pan. Add a piece of whole grain toast and you’re a happy camper.
Wraps are the perfect lunch food. You can make them and eat them at home or prepare them and bring them to school. And one of the best part about wraps is that you can be totally creative and they’re so easy to make! Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or meat eater, wraps can suit everybody. The ingredients are inexpensive and the prep time is a matter of minutes. Here are some ideas for wraps:
- Veggie wrap: lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, pickles and your favorite sauce
- Chicken wrap: piece of cooked (baked or fried) chicken, lettuce, bell peppers, pickles, and mustard
- Turkey wrap: turkey slices, pickles, lettuce, and cheese
2. Veggie and Hummus Sandwich:
Here’s a vegetarian lunch that is warm, yummy, and good for you! It’s also super easy and something you can make often. Here’s what you need:
- Ingredients: 2 slices of sprouted whole-grain bread, 2 tablespoons hummus, 4 slices of cucumber, 2 slices of tomato, 3 slices of avocado, 1/4 cup grated carrots, and 1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts (for an added crunch)
- Directions: Toast your bread, spread on the hummus, layer the veggies, and enjoy!
1. Chicken Salad
One of the best things to do with leftover chicken is to make a salad with it. But even if it’s not the result of leftovers, a chicken salad is a great healthy meal for students to enjoy. The chicken gives you the boost of protein and the veggies provide you with all the nutrients your body is craving.
- Here’s a great chicken salad recipe: Pieces of cooked chicken, lettuce or other greens (spinach is super healthy), cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and an olive oil and lemon salad dressing or vinaigrette. It’s best to ditch the heavy cream dressings as they’re full of extra calories.
2. Chicken Vegetable Quinoa Bowl
This dinner meal may take some more effort than the other ones on this list, but it’s worth it and it’s super healthy!
- Ingredients: 1/2 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes, cut up pieces of broccoli, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper, 2 ounces precooked grilled chicken breast, 1/4 cup of cooked quinoa, tahini, and lemon juice
- Directions: Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place your cubed sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and cover with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, add the broccoli pieces to the same baking sheet, add some more olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for another 20 minutes.
While that’s cooking, take some tahini, lemon juice, and some water to mix up together to create a salad dressing. In a serving bowl, add the pre-cooked quinoa, roasted vegetables, and the precooked chicken. Drizzle on the the tahini dressing and you’re done!
1. Yogurt Bowls
An amazing snack to make is a yogurt bowl. It’s healthy, filling, and easy (not to mention fun) to make. It’s the perfect snack to give you energy and it will keep you full until dinner time.
- Yogurt bowl: yogurt (Greek yogurt is best because it’s full of protein), granola, pieces of fruit, and nuts.
2. Rice Cakes or English Muffins and Peanut Butter
Rice cakes can be made super yummy if you spread peanut butter and slice bananas. But if you want a nice warm snack, toasting an English muffin is taking it to the next level and will probably become your new favorite snack. If you can afford almond butter, it’s even better.
3. Apple Donuts
This snack is high energy and ever so tasty! The beauty is to be creative and alter to your taste. If you prefer pears, they can be used as well.
- Ingredients: 1 medium apple of your choice, peanut or almond butter, and some shredded coconut (that you can buy ready in a package)
- Directions: Remove the apple core with an apple coring tool or carefully with a knife, then slice the apple crosswise into 8 thin rings, about ¼ inch thick. Spread each apple ring with almond butter or peanut butter, and sprinkle with coconut.
4. Peanut Butter, Blueberry & Oat Energy Bites
Here’s a great meal prep choice! These energy bars can be made once a week and you’re good for a daily snack. They’re full of energy and protein, keeping you full and ready to study. This is a perfect snack on the go.
- Ingredients: 1 cup natural peanut butter, ½ cup maple syrup, 2 cups rolled oats, ½ cup dried blueberries, ½ cup chopped pistachios, and ½ teaspoon salt
- Directions: Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, lightly coat the parchment with cooking spray or some oil, then mix peanut butter and maple syrup in a large bowl. Stir in the oats, blueberries, pistachios and salt. Spread the mixture evenly onto the pan, refrigerate until cold, and then cut into squares.
Resources to Use
Here are some resources you can use when you’re looking for ideas, recipes, and inspiration of what to eat and how to make it.
Looking for meal prep ideas? The CollegeNutrionist is a great resource. It has meal prep basics as well as recipes and meal plans.
Meal Kit Delivery:
MealkitsDelivery is a great resource for finding a healthy meal kit delivery service, including reviews and comparisons of the top available services.
Healthy Meal Ideas:
Health and Wellness Tips:
HealthServices has a list of 101 ways for college students to stay on top of their health and wellness, from diet to exercise to sleep.