Let’s be real, sometimes the dining hall is the last place we want to go. Sometimes we’re busy writing a paper at the library or cramming for an exam. Sometimes, the weather is disgusting and we simply don’t want to walk the whopping 50 feet to the dining hall. And sometimes, it’s 3 AM, we’re drunk as hell and really hungry. Regardless of the reason, it’s important to have a well-stocked dorm room pantry that’s not just full of sumptuous treats, but also healthy meals you can enjoy without feeling guilty. Today, we’ve got some great recipes you can eat morning, noon, night, or even late night! Better yet, you can find most of these ingredients at local convenient shops or grocery stores.
Morning: After the Beloved Walk of Shame
Some mornings you might be running late for class and don’t have time to stop by the dining hall for more than a coffee. Supplement your beverage with any of the following easy and healthy meal ideas:
- Peanut butter banana sandwich—Spread two tablespoons of all natural peanut butter on whole grain bread. Add one sliced banana and a drizzle of honey. If you’re felling adventurous, prepare your sandwich in a whole grain hot dog bun. This will save you time by not having to slice the banana.
- Cereal with yogurt and dried fruit—Mix cereal and dried fruit into an individual container of low fat/low sugar Greek yogurt. This meal is great because you can totally eat it on the go. To keep from getting bored, play around with different cereals or grains, yogurt flavors, and fruits. With this formula, you can easily go from a cherry cobbler (cherry flavored yogurt, cereal, walnuts) to blueberry cheesecake (vanilla flavored yogurt, whole grain graham crackers, blueberries).
- Whole grain pretzels, Nutella, and strawberries—Okay, so this last one isn’t completely healthy. We all know the Nutella commercials are totally kidding us when they say Nutella has only a ‘hint of cocoa.’ But wouldn’t it be fun to eat chocolate for breakfast? Now you can! Dip a handful of whole grain pretzels into some Nutella (or your favorite chocolate spread) and pair it with some strawberries for a complete meal. As long as you keep the Nutella in check (no more than two tablespoons), you can definitely work this meal into your diet.
Noon: For Those Who Actually Attend Class
A lot of times you’re forced to eat lunch on the go. Skipping lunch, however, can cause a lot of health problems ranging from fatigue and migraines to weight gain and hypoglycemia. Try any of these options:
- Tuna salad—You can easily find tuna packed in water at most convenient stores. Buy the tuna in packets (because no one wants to be that moron who is always using a can opener). Spread the tuna over bagged salad greens which you can easily buy at most groceries and keep in your mini fridge. Top with your favorite low-cal dressing for a simple and energizing lunch.
- Hummus wrap—Spread hummus on a whole grain tortilla. Top with your favorite pre-cut veggies. You can even find veggies at drugstores if you’re lucky. I sometimes buy premade carrots/celery and ranch dip packets, throw away the dressing, and simply eat the vegetables. Instant pre-washed, pre-cut veggies!
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich—This one is an oldie but goodie. Who doesn’t remember eating PB&J at school? Recreate this classic in a more sophisticated style by opting for whole grain bread, all natural peanut butter, and jams or jellies made without high fructose corn syrup. Also don’t think you need to stick to the classic peanut butter and grape jelly combo. Get creative by mixing almond butter with cherry preserves or cashew butter with apricot jam.
Night: Bring On the Netflix and Cup of Noodles
On a cold, rainy night, the last thing you want to do is go to the dining hall. Save people the sight of your frizzy hair and soaked rain boots by staying in, binging on Netflix, and enjoying any of these simple dinners:
- Hawaiian pizza for one— Split a whole grain English muffin and top it with a few tablespoons of tomato sauce (or even salsa). Add shredded cheese (or a cheese slice that you break up into little pieces). Top each half with a broken up slice of cut up deli ham and a few tablespoons of chopped pineapple that you got from a drained fruit cup (in juice, not syrup). Microwave for 60-90 seconds or until cheese is melted. You can even add pair your pizza with a side salad from the same bag of greens you used for your tuna salad.
- Vegetarian nachos—Buy a can of vegetarian chili because the meat variety has God knows what in it. Top whole grain, low-sodium tortilla chips with the chili. Add salsa, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and any other toppings you have lying around that would work. Banana peppers, roasted red peppers you have in your mini fridge, even foods like mango and avocado would work!
- DIY rice bowl—Rice is one of the cheapest foods to buy in college, costing as little as 60 cents a pound! There are plenty of varieties you can cook in as little as 90 seconds in the microwave. Opt for brown rice over white, and get creative with the topping. Rice is a blank canvas meaning you can do a ton with it. Go Latin by adding canned beans, salsa, and shredded cheese. Make it an Asian-style bowl by adding soy sauce, a little chili paste and some frozen veggies like broccoli, snap peas, and carrots that you can also cook in the microwave.
Eating healthy is definitely possible in college—especially in your dorm room. Don’t let a lack of equipment or resources keep you from making good food! Even if you have to sometimes use a boxed or semi-processed food, this is still way better than binging on pizza and fries. Make a few dorm room delights each week and you should notice better energy levels and fewer weight fluctuations. Oh, and did I mention you can even eat Nutella for breakfast?!
Featured image via flickr