Fall semester is just around the corner and move-in day is on the minds of collegiettes across the country. While many students will be returning to the college dorms, a large number will make the big move into our first apartment or off-campus house. The freedom is overwhelming, but with that freedom comes more responsibility, tighter funds, and worst of all – no dining hall. There are no longer fresh veggies washed, rinsed and waiting to be made into a salad. No more smiling servers eager to dish you up some well-seasoned chicken or a perfectly crafted egg white omelet. You’re on your own with limited appliances and limited ingredients.
The good news is that you have options! Collegiettes have perfected the art of making healthy, tasty meals that require minimal ingredients, appliances, and preparation. Not the best cook? No worries. Don’t have an oven? Don’t sweat it. There are plenty of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options that are quick, easy, and most importantly delicious.
Vegetable Mug Omelet
“My favorite thing to make is a mug omelet. Literally the easiest thing ever. You put a small handful of veggies into a ceramic mug, add some egg whites or egg beaters, add some cheese, and then cook it in the microwave. Once it’s done, you can eat it alone or put it between two slices of bread for an egg sandwich. Its super-delish and really healthy!” – Allison Lantero Georgetown 2013
Recipe courtesy of eggbeaters.com
- ½ cup sliced mushrooms
- ¼ cup thinly sliced onion
- ¼ cup chopped asparagus
- ¼ cup diced tomato
- ½ cup Egg Beaters Original
- 1 slice cheese
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- ¼ tsp. garlic powder
- Spray your mug with nonstick cooking spray. Add all the veggies to the mug and microwave for 1-2 minutes.
- Add Egg Beaters and microwave for another minute.
- Add the slice of cheese. Stir gently, and then microwave for an additional 45-60 seconds, until scramble is just set.
- Let cool and enjoy!
The best part about mug omelets is that you can switch up the ingredients depending on what you’re craving or what you have in the fridge. The recipe remains the same, but feel free to change up the veggies or add in some chicken. Another option is adding in some Morning Star vegetarian ‘sausage,’ a great, protein-filled suggestion that comes from Grace Ortelere at University of Pennsylvania.
Blueberry Oat Mug Muffins
“I recently started making mug muffins because they don’t require a ton of ingredients and they take less than five minutes to make. All you need is a mug and microwave, which makes them perfect for a first-apartment breakfast. There are a ton of variations online, but my favorite is a blueberry-oat variation.” – Hannah Orenstein, NYU 2015
- ¼ cup oats
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp. skim milk or soymilk
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- Handful of blueberries
- Spray your mug with nonstick cooking spray.
- Add the oats, egg, brown sugar, milk, and cinnamon to the mug and mix well.
- Stir in the blueberries.
- Microwave on high 2 minutes.
- Let cool and enjoy!
If blueberries aren’t quite your cup of tea, there are a ton of mug muffin variations to try. Check out these apple cinnamon mug muffins and these banana mug muffins.
If you are not feeling a hot breakfast, then a fruit and yogurt parfait is a fantastic option. If created with the right ingredients, parfaits can be filling, protein-rich, and simply delicious. Blueberries are a great addition to any breakfast as they will provide plenty of healthy antioxidants!
Recipe courtesy of marthastewart.com
- 7 ounces fresh blueberries
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- 2/3 cup original or vanilla Chobani
- 2 tbsp. granola
- In a bowl or glass, spoon 1/3 cup yogurt in to the bottom. Layer half of the blueberries on top and then sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. granola. Place another 1/3 cup yogurt on top, layer with the rest of the blueberries, and sprinkle with the remaining granola.
- Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and enjoy!
“I love making pita pizzas in a toaster oven! You can make these healthy by using whole-wheat pita and healthy pasta sauce. Then you just add your own toppings – cheese, ham, tomatoes, onions, or whatever else you are craving. All you have to do is toast your topped pita in the oven until the cheese melts!” – Sarah Ramirez, Fordham University
- 1 whole-wheat pita
- ¼ cup pasta sauce
- ¼ cup skim mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup diced onion
- Any other toppings of your choosing!
- Preheat your toaster oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place your pita on a baking sheet and pour the sauce over the pita.
- Sprinkle with cheese, onions, and any other toppings of your choosing.
- Bake until the cheese is golden and bubbly – about 6-8 minutes.
Have fun mixing in your favorite toppings – broccoli, mushrooms, chicken, turkey, or maybe even some pineapple if you are a Hawaiian pizza fan. And don’t feel limited to using only pita bread. Whole-wheat English muffins are another great option that you can top with some sauce, cheese and veggies!
Chicken Pesto Pasta
“This may or may not be healthy, but it is definitely delicious. Cook bowtie pasta according to the directions on the box. Add grilled chicken, tomato, fresh mozzarella, pine nuts, and pesto to taste. You can even add a little Parmesan cheese if you want.” – Michelle Lewis, UNC-Chapel Hill 2013
This is a great option if you have some leftover meat – especially chicken. If not, you can grill up some fresh chicken or use frozen chicken strips. No matter how you decided to incorporate your protein, this meal is sure to be delicious!
- 1 serving whole wheat pasta (about 2 ounces)
- Boneless, skinless grilled chicken
- ½ cup diced tomato
- ¼ cup fresh mozzarella
- Handful of pine nuts
- Pesto to taste
- Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
- Add the cooked chicken, tomato, mozzarella, pine nuts, and pesto. Stir until well combined.
- Sprinkle with parmesan if desired and enjoy!
“Stir fry is always a go-to for me! A lot of stores, like Trader Joe’s, will even sell frozen stir-fry kits complete with all the veggies. All you have to do is add rice or noodles and the sauce! Or, you can just use whatever frozen or fresh vegetables you have on hand or that are on sale. Stir fries cook in just a few minutes, are good for you, and clean up easily.” – Emily Featherston, Fordham University 2013
If you want to use a frozen stir-fry kit, there will be cooking directions on the back. If you feel like creating your own, custom stir-fry mix, follow the recipe below! You can use fresh or frozen vegetables, whatever you happen to have on hand. We recommend serving stir-fry with Minute Whole Grain Brown Rice – it cooks in just one minute in the microwave!
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- ¼ cup carrots
- ½ cup broccoli
- ½ cup red pepper
- ½ cup snap peas
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce
- 1 serving Minute Whole Grain Brown Rice
- Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Add the chicken and cook on each side for about 10 minutes or until browned.
- Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan and cut it into strips.
- In the meantime, add all the vegetables into the pan along with 1 Tbsp. soy sauce and 1 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce.
- Cook the veggies for about 3 minutes and then add in the chicken strips. Add in the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce and continue stirring the chicken and vegetables – you want them to soak up all of the sauce!
- Cook for a minute longer and then put aside.
- Cook the minute rice and mix the veggie/chicken mixture with the rice!
George Foreman Chicken
“If you have a George Foreman Grill (or a Panini press), making grilled chicken is super easy. For a quick and yummy marinade, put a boneless, skinless chicken breast in a Ziploc bag with Italian dressing for a few hours, then cook it on the George Foreman.” – Michelle Lewis, UNC-Chapel Hill 2013
So there you have it! Find your inner kitchen goddess and rock your first apartment’s kitchen. Just because you don’t have all the amenities doesn’t mean that you can’t cook like your favorite Food Network chef. Try one of these collegiette-approved recipes, have some fun experimenting, and share any discoveries or favorites with us in the comments!