The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
By Christine Nappi
Finally! My own apartment. My own kitchen. My own meals, and no more Lockes.
That’s exactly what I thought to myself as I moved into my apartment last year. I was never really a fan of the food in Lockes (but then again who is) so I couldn’t wait to finally cook meals for myself that would be both healthy and nourishing. This is not to say that Locke’s is bad– at the end of the day they put food on my plate– but I was getting tired of the same old dining hall food. It felt good to finally have real autonomy over my meal choice.
But, as I soon learned, it can get tricky to cook for yourself day after day. Not only will you miss the convenience of having food already prepared for you, but you’ll most likely run out of meal ideas pretty quickly. And who has the time to think about what to cook when you have a paper to write or a party to get to?
If you’re looking for some quick and healthy meal ideas or just some general tips about cooking for yourself, then this article is for you! Plus, check out this article here for some places to grocery shop near campus.
Disclaimer: I’m not a five-star chef and I’m a picky eater, so these meals won’t be gourmet, but hopefully they’ll inspire your future meal choices :)
I tend to eat the same thing for breakfast almost every day (boring, I know). But here are my favorite breakfast ideas for when I need something quick before class!
Oatmeal + Berries
Oatmeal is super quick easy to make and you can customize it to your liking. I add half a cup of oats to a bowl, fill it with some water, and microwave for about two minutes. Then I top with some berries, cinnamon, almond butter, and some protein powder every now and then.
Banana Peanut Butter Toast
Super simple and more filling than you think! Toast two pieces of multi-grain (or any) bread, and top with your favorite nut butter and sliced banana!
Cheese + Veggie Omelet
If you have some time in the morning, try making an omelet– another meal you can customize to your liking. Whisk together two eggs, fry in a pan, and add your toppings. I like to add spinach, peppers, and some feta cheese to mine.
When it comes to cooking for yourself, I struggle with making lunch the most. I simply don’t have the time to cook full meals in between classes (which is why I’m big on using leftovers) but here are some quick ideas.
You may have seen this on Tik Tok before, but try taking a whole wheat or gluten-free tortilla and top it with red sauce, cheese, and any other pizza toppings you like! This is a much healthier option than regular pizza.
Egg White Avocado Wrap
Some will say eggs should only be eaten at breakfast time… but I say they’re wrong. Eggs are such an easy meal to make and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have them multiple times a week for different meals.
Fry up some egg whites and heat up a tortilla shell. Spread some pesto and avocado on the shell, add your egg whites, and top with spinach and green peppers. You can also add cheese or sub out the egg whites for some cold-cut turkey.
Green + Grains Bowl
This meal is versatile and, again, very customizable! I like to start by adding some spinach leaves and either rice or quinoa to a bowl. Then, add your favorite toppings, protein, and dressing.
This meal is good because sometimes salads just aren’t enough, and the extra grains will definitely fill you up.
Pro tip: When you’re making dinner, feel free to make some extra to have for lunch the next day. Or if you like having protein at lunch, simply make another serving for tomorrow.
People say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I think it’s dinner. After a long day of class, you work up quite the appetite!
Chicken, Veggie, and Rice Bowl
Start by cutting up your chicken into smaller pieces (so it will cook faster and better). Add to a preheated and pre-greased pan and season with salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, and onion powder. Next, chop and add your favorite veggies to the pan. I like to add sweet potatoes, broccoli, zucchini, and some onion for flavor. Season again with salt, paper, paprika, cumin, and onion, and sautee until the veggies are cooked. As the veggies and chicken are cooking, start making a small portion rice (this meal is meant to be more veggie-heavy). Once all is finished add to a bowl and enjoy.
Veggie Fried Rice
Okay, this is kinda similar, but not really. As opposed to the above, you want this meal to be more rice-heavy. Start by cooking your rice and set aside for later. Add any veggies you’d like to a pre-heated pan with oil. I like to add peas, corn, carrots, broccoli, and onions but you can add whatever you like! Start to sautee the veggies and then gradually add in the rice. Once the rice is all added, crack one or two eggs in your pan and mix them in until cooked. Top it off with some soy sauce and you’re good to go!
Rice, Peas + Pesto Chicken
Simple, yet delicious. Start by making your rice, and in a separate pot sautee some peas and green onions. Add your rice, stir together, and top it off with some lemon juice and parsley. While the rice and veggies are cooking, start making your chicken. Slice a chicken breast into thin peices, season with salt and pepper, and add it to a pan with some olive oil. When it’s almost done cooking, add some pesto and mix in. Then, add your chicken to your rice dish and enjoy!
Tomato Spinach Sausage Pasta
Another simple recipe (that doesn’t involve rice)! Start by making your pasta, and in a separate pan start cooking some sausages (I like to buy pre-cooked frozen ones that I can just heat up). Next, add in chopped cherry tomatoes and spinach. Sautee until all is cooked and top with some paprika and cayenne pepper.
I make myself tacos way more than I’ll admit too! They’re easy to make and can be healthy with the right ingredients. Plus, if you freeze your ground chicken/turkey/beef, you can let it defrost while you cook it. I like to keep mine simple but adding just meat, lettuce, salsa, cheese and some sour cream, but a healthier alternative would be to pack your taco shell with some sauteed and seasoned veggies (tried bell peppers).
These meals may seem over simplified, but they are tasty and get the job done. Even if none of the meals sound appetizing to you, I hope they at least inspired you to create a dish of your own!
If you are just moving into an apartment, keep in mind that cooking for yourself can get tiring. This is not to scare you away from whipping up some gourmet meals, but its to remind you that its okay to eat out and order in. Yes, eating healthy meals is good for you, but so is eating your favorite dishes that may be deemed “unhealthy.” If you know me, you know that chicken parm pizza and wine at Sal’s is part of my weekly routine. As long as you’re giving your body the nourishment it needs, in whatever type of meal that may be, then you are doing whats healthiest for you.