Not going to lie, cooking in college can be tough. It requires shopping, preparing, cooking, cleaning, and so much more. As a student, this may take up a lot of your time, but you don't have to let it! My sophomore year I developed a routine to help me prepare and cook healthy meals while also staying on top of my schoolwork. Here are some of my favorite meals...
Every morning I look forward to eating my oatmeal after my run (sometimes I would say it's even what gets me up to go on my run). I soak steel cut oats overnight with almond milk and cinnamon so they can cook faster in the morning. Steel cut oats are my favorite kind of oats - they are healthier than rolled oats and they are the perfect chewiness.
I eat my oatmeal with bananas, berries, a drizzle of peanut butter, and sometimes a sprinkle of coconut flakes. It is the perfect morning meal especially because it's so filling!
2. GRILLED CHICKEN
Grilled chicken is my go-to dinner meal. Since I had it so frequently, I was always trying to find different recipes so I wouldn't get tired of eating the same thing over and over again.
My favorite grilled chicken recipe is to season it with rosemary, thyme, garlic, and olive oil, and eat it with roasted sweet potatoes and/or some kind of green veggies with a sprinkle of feta or goat cheese. I lost track of how many times I ate this meal, but it was very satisfying and delicious!
Salmon is always a great meal option. It's super healthy and high in protein and healthy fats. I usually prepare my salmon on the stove and eat it with a side of something.
Most of the time I prepare my salmon with parsley, garlic, lemon, salt, and pepper. Occasionally, I marinate it with ginger, garlic, and soy sauce when I'm craving asian cuisine.
Preparing salad is more time consuming than you would think: washing the vegetables, cutting up them up, making a dressing, etc.
I went through a phase where all I ate was this Strawberry Fields salad. It took the shortest amount of time to prepare and it made for a refreshing meal. I mixed romaine lettuce with spring mix, added a handful of toasted coconut flakes, walnuts, and oats, chopped up some strawberries, a sprinkle of goat cheese, and grilled chicken. The chicken is seasoned with oregano, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper. The vinaigrette for this salad helps everything come together: chia seeds, red wine vinaigrette, and a dash of honey. If you like your salads with a hint of sweetness, this is the salad for you!
Another salad I ate often was this Mediterranean salad with falafel. All it has is kalamata olives, cucumbers, feta cheese, and falafel on a bed of spring mix (sometimes I would add a drop of tahini if it was available).
5. LETTUCE WRAPS
Lettuce wraps are the perfect option for low-carb meals. Whenever I'm in the mood for tortilla or some sort of wrap, I make a stir fry that I can wrap up in some crunchy lettuce. My 2 favorite lettuce wrap recipes are the asian-style and mexican-style wraps.
For asian-style, I put chicken, shredded carrots, shredded red cabbage, diced scallions, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds on the stove to stir fry it all together. I then blend peanuts, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and soy sauce until it becomes a glaze for me to add to the stir fry. Once everything is cooked through and the marinade has been added, it's ready!
For mexican-style, I marinade the chicken and the assortment of peppers and onions with cayenne pepper, a dash of cumin and paprika, chili flakes, garlic powder, and lime juice and cook it on the pan. While that is cooking, I prepare guacamole to wrap with the chicken, veggies, and lettuce.
Both of these recipes are simple, easy, and healthy. Definitely my favorite when I'm in the mood for something warm and crunchy.
6. CAULIFLOWER PIZZA
At the beginning of the year, I was obsessed with making cauliflower pizza. My favorite pre-made cauliflower pizza crust was from the Whole Foods 365 Brand because it was the closest to tasting like an actual pizza crust.
My homemade pizza included: Rao's tomato sauce, feta cheese, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and spinach with a balsamic vinaigrette drizzle.
I tried not to eat bread too often, but when I did, I would treat myself to my favorite whole wheat sourdough toast. On the toast are roasted tomatoes and red onions on a goat cheese and roasted garlic base with sesame seeds to top it all off. This meal never disappoints. The roasted tomatoes add so much flavor and are delicious when eaten with goat cheese and roasted garlic. The perfectly toasted bread and sesame seeds add that extra crunch to the whole dish.
8. SPAGHETTI SQUASH
Spaghetti squash was the perfect pasta alternative for me and it was really fun to make. I usually ate it with grilled chicken, Rao's tomato sauce, garlic, olive oil, parsley, and topped with some parmesan cheese.
It's the best meal when you are craving the pasta flavor, but trying to stay on a low-carb diet. When I tried spaghetti squash for the first time, I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I wasn't sure how it would taste because of the consistency of the squash, but it did not seem to bother me at all!
Sides are just as important as the main. Because I ate different variations of grilled chicken basically everyday, I tried to change up my sides to keep my meals more interesting.
Most of the time, I would roast brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes with rosemary, thyme, and garlic and sprinkle some feta or goat cheese on top. Or... I would make a smaller side salad like this greek salad below! Usually my sides also just ended up being different variations of roasted or freshly chopped vegetables.
Hopefully now you have some healthy and simple meal ideas for you to make in college! A lot of my meal inspiration came from my favorite food influencer, Half Baked Harvest! Check out her blog or Instagram for some delicious recipe ideas.