As a college student, my time is often stretched very thin, and I’m sure this won’t change when I enter the “real world” as a working professional! I love to eat healthy foods because of how much better I feel when I do. However, junk food is often tempting because of its convenience. When I moved out of my dorm and into an apartment with a kitchen, I went on a mission to locate healthy recipes that were also inexpensive and easy to prepare. Nearly two years later, here are my top three go-to meals.
*I find most of my recipes on Pinterest, so full credit is given below to the original creator*
- Salmon with 1-2 healthy sides
I don’t eat much meat (primarily chicken and fish), but salmon is my absolute favorite dish to make. I could probably eat it everyday. Its omega-3 fatty acids are so good for you, and it doesn’t leave you feeling overly full like most meat does. I typically buy a pound, bake it all at once, and then incorporate it into several meals throughout the following three days. The way I bake salmon is very simple: just place it on a baking sheet covered in foil, coat it in a little bit of olive oil, sprinkle on garlic powder (my favorite seasoning), and bake at 425 degrees for four to six minutes per each 1/2 inch of thickness (I do six).
With the fish, I usually eat steamed broccoli because it’s quick. However, I also pair salmon with baked asparagus, steamed cauliflower, mashed avocado, or roasted red potatoes sometimes. If you’re in the mood for a larger meal, feel free to choose two of the above sides, or make your own!
If I’m not in the mood to eat a fillet, I repurpose my salmon by making wraps and soft tacos with these Carb Sense Whole Wheat tortillas. It’s super easy!
- Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats, The Wholesome Dish
I found this recipe on Pinterest, so I can’t take credit for it, but I love sharing it with my friends and family. You can find the original recipe by The Wholesome Dish here.
To make these yummy low calorie “boats,” just cut a zucchini in half and scoop out the middle part that contains the seeds. In a skillet, cook chicken and stir in buffalo wing sauce. The recipe calls for ground chicken, but I typically cook chicken breasts and shred one of them for the boats, so that I can save the remaining chicken for other meals. Once the chicken is fully cooked, spoon it into the hollowed out zucchini halves and bake at 400 degrees for about thirty minutes (check this, since everyone’s oven is different). I briefly pull them out about five minutes early to sprinkle on mozzarella cheese.
Even those these boats have a longer total cooking time, the baking is completely hands-off and I am able to use those thirty minutes to work on homework or do something else productive.
- Quinoa Fried Rice, Living Sweet Moments
I make an even more simplified version of this Quinoa “Fried Rice” recipe from Living Sweet Moments. The only ingredients I use are: quinoa, frozen peas and carrots, garlic salt, and *sometimes* chicken. If I’m not using leftovers, I add in scrambled egg.
To begin with, just boil the quinoa until soft (usually about fifteen minutes, but it varies a lot). While this is happening, cook the frozen peas and carrots in olive oil in a medium skillet until they are hot, but not burnt. Add the quinoa (I use a fine mesh flour sifter to strain it, due to the small size), garlic salt, and any other ingredients you want to throw in. Toss them together in the skillet for a few minutes, and then you’re done! This dish is very easy and tastes exactly like fried rice.
Do you have any healthy, easy, and inexpensive go-to recipes? If so, I would love to hear about them in the comments below!