Cheap and Healthy Meal Alternatives Part 2: Recipe Edition

In part 1 of my Cheap and Healthy Meal Alternatives Guide, we discussed what “healthy” means, how to make a food budget, and resources for nutritional eating.

Being in college during a pandemic could already be taking a toll on your mental health, but don’t let it take a toll on your physical health, too. It’s so easy to just order out on UberEats or Doordash when you’re swamped with work and assignments. However, I know your body will thank you for eating home-cooked and balanced meals every so often. 

With that being said, welcome to part 2 of my Cheap and Healthy Meal Alternatives Guide, the recipe edition. To help you get started on your journey to healthier meals, here are some healthy recipes for each meal of the day that you can make in the microwave:

  1. 1. Breakfast: Vegetable & Egg Breakfast Bagel

    Ingredients

    • Thin bagel 

    • 3/4 cup egg white 

    • 15 baby spinach leaves 

    • 1 slice of tomato 

    • 1 slice of provolone cheese 

    • 1/2 small avocado, sliced 

    • Salt 

    • Hot sauce

    Instructions

    1. In a small microwave-safe bowl add egg whites and spinach and place in the microwave on high for 1 minute and 30 seconds 

    2. Toast bagel in toaster oven and top with cheese slice and tomato 

    3. Top with cooked egg whites and spinach 

    4. Add avocado slices 

    5. Add salt and hot sauce if desired

    6. Top with bagel patty

    Nutritional Facts

    This breakfast sandwich is a great balanced meal that includes carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. 

    Kcal: 376      Fat: 19g 

    Carbs: 34g    Fiber: 5g 

    Protein: 32g

  2. 2. Breakfast: Simple Cheesy Omelet in a Mug

    Ingredients

    • 2 eggs 

    • ½ cup of low-fat milk 

    • Diced green pepper 

    • Diced slice of ham 

    • Salt 

    • Pepper

    Instructions

    1. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper 

    2. Add diced green peppers and ham 

    3. Microwave in the mug for about 1 minute and 30 seconds on high

    Nutritional Facts

    Kcal: 250      Fat: 13g 

    Carbs: 7g      Fiber: 2g 

    Protein: 18g

  3. 3. Lunch: Microwave Shakshouka

    Ingredients

    • One tablespoon olive oil 

    • 200 ml canned tomatoes with juice 

    • 1 garlic, finely sliced or minced 

    • ½ red pepper chopped 

    • 2 eggs 

    • ¼ tsp of cumin 

    • 1 tsp chopped parsley 

    • Pita bread to serve

    Instructions

    1. Brush a microwave bowl with the olive oil 

    2. Stir the tomatoes, garlic, and red pepper together 

    3. Make a dip in the center using a spoon and break in the egg and prick the yolk with a knife 

    4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or lid and microwave on high for 1 minute and then in 20-second burst until egg white is set 

    5. Top with parsley and serve with pita

    Nutritional Facts

    Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern recipe that can be whipped up in 10 minutes. 

    Kcal: 465     Fat: 23g

    Carbs: 6g     Fiber: 6g 

    Protein: 19g

  4. 4. Lunch: Black Bean Quesadilla​

    Ingredients

    Servings: 2 

    • ½ can of black beans 

    • 1/3 cup of frozen corn 

    • Fajita seasoning blend 

    • Chopped cilantro 

    • Juice from 1 lime 

    • 2 Tbsp. of chopped red onion 

    • Handful (or 1oz) shredded Mexican style cheese 

    • 2 Corn Tortillas 

    • 2 tbsp salsa

    Instructions

    1. Drain the black beans and rinse with water 

    2. Place the beans in a bowl and season them with fajita seasoning, mix in chopped cilantro and lime juice 

    3. Mash the bean mixture with the back of a fork and spread on tortilla 

    4. Top with corn, diced onion, and a handful of cheese 

    5. Top with another tortilla with bean spread 

    6. Microwave for one minute or until cheese melts 

    7. Top with salsa

    Nutritional Facts

    Protein-packed delicious quesadillas are a great healthy dinner option served with a side of salsa and salad. 

    Kcal: 550      Fat: 10g 

    Carbs: 38g.   Fiber: 20g 

    Protein: 25g

  5. 5. Dinner: Spinach Zucchini and Ricotta Lasagna in a Bowl​

    Ingredients

    • Fresh lasagna sheets (can be found in refrigerated section of grocery store) 

    • 2 1/2 cups (75g) baby spinach, roughly chopped 

    • 1/4 medium zucchini, diced 

    • ¼ medium green pepper diced 

    • 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese 

    • 3 large basil leaves, finely chopped (or1/2 tsp dried basil) 

    • 1/4 tsp salt 

    • 1 garlic clove minced or finely chopped 

    • 6 tablespoons of tomato sauce or marinara pasta sauce 

    • 1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella

    Instructions

    1. Cut the lasagna sheet in half, and cut each strip in half again. Place the pasta sheets into a bowl, and pour very hot water in it, until it covers all the pieces. 

    2. Chop the spinach and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the top with plastic wrap and poke a few holes in it for ventilation. Microwave for 1 minute. Take out the spinach and let it cool. 

    3. Mix the spinach with the ricotta, pepper, zucchini, garlic, and salt. Set mixture aside. 

    4. Pour 2 tablespoons of pasta sauce at the bottom of the bowl. Top with a piece of softened pasta sheet. Add some spinach mixture, 2 tablespoons of mozzarella, and a pasta sheet. Continue building the lasagna, ending with a layer of pasta sheet at the top. Sprinkle mozzarella over the pasta. 

    5. Microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds. Add more time if cheese is not melted.

    Nutritional Facts

    Kcal: 437      Fat: 12g 

    Carbs: 44g    Fiber: 4g 

    Protein: 27g

  6. 6. Dinner: Simple Microwave Salmon With Salad​

    Ingredients

    • 2 salmon fillets 

    • 1 tablespoon of olive oil 

    • 2 garlic cloves minced 

    • ¼ teaspoon of salt 

    • Black pepper 

    • Mixed greens

    Instructions

    1. Place salmon on microwave dish, skin down. 

    2. Brush fillets with olive oil and spread the garlic 

    3. Season with salt and pepper 

    4. Cover and microwave for 2 minutes or until fish is cooked through 

    5. Let stand for 2 minutes and then place on bed of mixed green 

    6. Add more olive oil and side of hot sauce if desired.

    Nutritional Facts

    Salmon is a great source of omega 3 fats and magnesium. 

    Kcal: 625      Fat: 35 g 

    Carbs: 6g      Fiber: 2g

    Protein: 31g