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Healthy meal alternatives for college students

The average college student may not eat as healthy as they can. This recipe guide offers students a cheap alternative to eating unhealthy constantly. Photo by Izzy Johnson.


This school year you can stray away from the stereotype of being the college student who only eats out.

Healthier foods, saving money and learning how to cook all come along with cooking your own meals at home.

“Everyone needs to eat healthy, but students need nutritional foods to give them the energy to do all the activities and schoolwork that make up college life,” said Debbie Mosher, part-time instructor in the College of Education. “Brainpower and thought processes are stimulated by healthy foods,”

Here are three easy recipes you can make at home in less than 30 minutes. Each of the recipes is able to be adjusted to be vegan or vegetarian.

Ramen Noodle Stir Fry

This is an easy recipe to spice up the 25-cent Top Ramen packages sitting in your pantry. Grab a package of ramen noodles and your favorite vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • One package of Top Ramen or any type of ramen noodles
  • One boiled egg
  • 1/4 cup of baby Carrots
  • 1/4 cup of Zucchini
  • 1/4 cup of Bell Pepper
  • White mushrooms
  • Any other vegetable of choice
  • Green onions (optional)
  • Sesame seeds (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cut all vegetables into bite size pieces.
  2. In a skillet heat a small amount of oil or butter on medium heat. Add all of the pre-cut vegetables into the pan to cook.
  3. Start making the boiled egg.
  4. Follow the instructions on the Top Ramen package to cook the noodles.
  5. When everything is done cooking, add it all together in a bowl and top with green onions, sesame seeds and soy sauce or teriyaki sauce.

This is an easy meal to make that is affordable and can be meal prepped for a whole week. Simply have the vegetables cut and in the fridge, and all you have to do is make the Top Ramen.

Lindsey Fry, a pre-dental hygiene major from Morgan, said: “I love eating at home because it makes me feel better about what I’m putting in my body. Fast food can be very unhealthy and by cooking at home I know exactly what is in my food; it also saves money because, by meal planning, my meals are all under $2.”

DIY Mini pizzas

These pizzas will take you less than five minutes to prep and only 10 minutes to cook. You can also meal prep by making 8-10 mini pizzas and storing them in the freezer in a container, and then reheating them in the microwave.

Ingredients

  • One package of English Muffins (alternative ideas are: tortillas, naan bread or Rhodes Rolls)
  • Pizza sauce or marinara sauce
  • Shredded cheese
  • Pizza toppings: pepperoni, olives, ham, pineapple, peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If using an air-fryer, cook the mini pizzas at 400 degrees.
  2. Spread desired amount of pizza sauce on each half of the english muffin.
  3. Add all of the pizza toppings.
  4. Top it off with desired amount of shredded cheese.
  5. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes or in the air-fryer for no longer than five minutes.

Eating healthy is not only good for you mentally and physically, but it can also be fun to learn a new skill while in college.

“I think that it’s important to eat at home because you can eat healthier options for much less money,” said Isaiah Madill, a junior history major from Prescott, Arizona. “Eating healthy is also really good for your mental as well as physical health.”

Burrito Bowls

Easy, healthy, and protein-packed burrito bowls are simple to make and great for meal prepping. The ingredients for this meal are inexpensive and can be used for multiple meals.

Ingredients

  • Cooked rice (bag of rice, microwaveable rice, or Minute Rice)
  • One can of chicken
  • One can of corn
  • One can of beans: black, pinto or refried
  • One can of olives
  • One avocado
  • Shredded cheese
  • Tortilla chips (or one tortilla)
  • Salsa (optional)
  • Sour cream (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Begin cooking rice according to directions on package.
  2. Open the can of chicken, drain the juice, and add to a pan to cook. If you would like to, you can add taco seasoning to flavor the chicken.
  3. Open the can of beans, add to a microwave safe bowl, and heat up for two minutes.
  4. Open the can of corn, add to a microwave safe bowl, and heat up for two minutes.
  5. Cut up avocado into bite size pieces and place to the side.
  6. Once rice is done cooking, add to a bowl and then add all of the desired toppings.

This is a series of three alternative recipes to eating out at fast-food restaurants. You can kick off the school year by learning how to cook, meal prepping and saving money. Happy cooking!