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4 Healthy Simple Meals for Students

Guest Contributor


We all know that the typical busy college student schedule — packed with classes, studying, extracurricular activities, socializing and sometimes a part-time job — can leave little to no time for proper meal preparation.

Students often turn to fast food, pizza delivery and coffee shop baked goods. Expensive and not terribly nutritious.

If your college student moved back home with you this spring, the unexpected family time together provides a perfect opportunity to teach a few basic home-cooking techniques and try out some simple recipes that they can take with them when they return to college.

These tips and recipes are also perfect for students living on their own off campus.

Preparing meals at home might sound time-consuming, but is actually quite doable. Your student doesn't need to cook every single day or even week. With this list of basic ingredients along with a few simple yet delicious recipes, they can alternate between eating out or at the campus dining hall and cooking at home when time allows.

These easy and healthy recipes — one egg-based brunch recipe, three chicken entrees and two vegetable sides — are also budget-friendly. These are great rotational meals for students, and they can always cook a larger batch and store leftovers in the fridge.

What ingredients do you need?

For the six recipes included here, you'll need the following:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • Olive oil and vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Additional seasonings (dried basil, thyme, Italian seasoning, paprika, red pepper flakes and onion powder are all nice to have on hand)
  • Fresh garlic or garlic powder (optional; if you're not a fan you can skip it)
  • Lemons
  • Potatoes (red, Yukon gold and russets are all good; sweet potatoes work, too)
  • Asparagus
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Cheese (any type you like; fine to buy a bag of pre-grated)
  • Ham
  • Mushrooms (fresh or canned)
  • Red bell peppers (fresh or roasted in a jar)
  • Scallions (green onions) or regular onions (red onion is nice in the cucumber salad)
  • All-purpose flour

Start your day with an amazing Brunch Egg Bake.

This Brunch Egg Bake is a super easy and tasty casserole filled with eggs, vegetables, ham and cheese (leave out the ham if you want to go meatless). You can enjoy it any time of day.

Not a lot of preparation is needed. Simply beat the eggs, add the veggies and cheese, and bake it in the oven. (Note: this recipe makes a lot. Depending on how many people you're feeding, you may want to cut it in half.)

You can adjust and swap the ingredients based on what you have on hand. Use bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, etc. to complement the eggs. Give it a try and you will see how simple and convenient this recipe is!

For the main dish, try one of these chicken recipes:

Recipe #1: Italian Chicken Skewers (ketogenic/low carb)

How to make keto Italian chicken skewers:

  1. Make the marinade: In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, Italian seasoning, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper.
  2. Prepare the chicken: Clean and pat dry the chicken, then cut into 3-inch cubes; add to marinade and toss to coat the pieces.
  3. Arrange the poultry on a skewer: Next, arrange the meat on wooden skewers.
  4. Cook:You can either bake them in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or use a grill pan to grill them.
  5. Serve:The skewers are great served with a yogurt-based sauce or just a drizzle of lemon juice over a green salad.

For more details, the full recipe can be found here.

Recipe #2: Oven-Baked Chicken Breasts

How to make oven-baked chicken breasts:

    1. Brine the chicken: This step is optional and if you're short on time, you can definitely skip it. However, it is highly recommended for juicy and tender meat. To brine the meat, simply fill a large bowl with 1 quart of lukewarm water and 1/4 cup salt. Stir until the salt is dissolved. Add the meat to the brine mixture and let it sit for 30 minutes.
    2. Prepare the seasoning: You can use your favorite seasoning here. We like to mix salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, dried thyme, dried basil, dried parsley and pepper flakes. Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and seasoning on both sides. Rub well so it absorbs properly.
  1. Bake: Add chicken to the prepared baking dish and bake for 25–30 minutes at 400 degrees F, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.

Full recipe with all the details can be found here.

Recipe #3: Baked Chicken and Potatoes

How to make chicken and potatoes:

  1. Peel and cut the potatoes: Clean, peel and cut the potatoes into small, uniform chunks. If you have time, soak them in cold water for about 30 minutes to remove the starch.
  2. Season the potatoes: After draining (if you pre-soaked), season potatoes with salt, pepper and dried herbs and toss with olive oil. Then add potatoes to the prepared baking sheet and distribute evenly.
  3. Prepare the chicken: You can use chicken breasts or thighs; both work perfectly well. Simply season the poultry with salt, pepper and olive oil. Toss everything to coat.
  4. Add the chicken to the baking sheet: Arrange the chicken among the potatoes on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake: Bake the chicken and potatoes at 375 degrees F for about an hour or until done.

You can find the whole recipe here.

Two simple side dishes

Roasted Asparagus

Asparagus is healthy and delicious side to go with the above recipes, and because it's in season right now it's abundant and affordable in grocery stores.

How to perfectly roast asparagus?

First, wash and trim the asparagus (cut or snap off the tough ends of the stem). Place it on a baking sheet (you can line the baking dish with parchment paper or foil if desired). Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, pepper and some fresh lemon juice (you can also wait and squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over the asparagus after it's cooked). Place in the oven and bake for about 15 min at 400 degrees F, tossing or flipping it once or twice (check for doneness after 10 minutes).

Leftover roasted asparagus is nice with eggs (scrambled, an omelet, etc.) or with pasta and freshly grated parmesan.

Cucumber Salad

Cucumber salad is a quick, budget-friendly dish to enjoy year-round though it's always best when farmers' market cukes are available in the summer and fall. No cooking is involved, and you can prepare it in about three minutes. Feel free to add other raw, fresh veggies — tomatoes or broccoli could be an excellent option.

What kitchen supplies do you need?

Here is some basic kitchen equipment used in the following recipes and useful for everyday cooking:

  • Set of mixing bowls
  • Cookie/baking sheets
  • Sauce and saute pans
  • Large stockpot
  • Casserole dish
  • Knives
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Box grater (for zesting, too)
  • Wooden and slotted spoons
  • Spatula
  • Whisk
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Wooden or metal skewers for kabobs

Catalina Castravet, Sweet & Savory Meals food blogger

A little bit about me…

My name is Catalina Castravet, and I created Sweet and Savory Meals. I am a professional chef and food blogger who is always on the lookouts for tasty and delicious recipes. Over the past 10 years, my team and I have created well over 1,000 recipes, from quick breakfasts to delicious dinners. All the recipes are shared for free with our beloved followers and readers. Cooking is my love and passion.

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