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Delicious Meals for the Broke Young Adult

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SPU chapter.

I am a junior in college, and this is the first year I did not sign up for a full meal plan. As much as all of us students love to hate the dining hall, I had a rude awakening when I could no longer eat there 3 meals a day. It did not occur to me that eating at the dining hall cut out cooking and cleaning time, and gave me endless food with one meal swipe. I could just feel hungry and eat right away, instead of planning for when I would feel hungry, cooking food so I had a meal ready, then cleaning up the aftermath so the kitchen wasn’t drowning in dishes. 

Living in a house and taking charge of my own meals gave me a lot more respect for my parents. Planning, cooking, cleaning, taking care of a house, and keeping up with work/school and friends is a lot to manage, and I found myself having a lot of decision fatigue due to all the extra planning. 

However, having lived in a house and cooked my own meals for about 4 months now, I have some tips for those young adults looking to save money, eat delicious/healthy meals, and cut down on the decisions made throughout the week. 

I’ve provided one or two of my favorite meals for each portion of the day, as I tend to eat the same thing, and so as to not get overwhelmed when cooking.    


  1. The most amazing breakfast sandwich.
  1. In a pan, add a handful of spinach (fresh or frozen, if frozen, thaw first)
  2. Add 2 eggs and fry
  3. Cook together, adding salt, pepper, chili flakes or what have you. 
  4. Toast 2 pieces of sourdough bread. Spread cream cheese and pesto on both slices
  5. Add spinach eggs into the sandwich, cut into triangles for best results. Eat. 

Notes: sourdough is good for your gut because of the starter used, but any bread works. You can also make this ahead of time, but keep the bread and eggs separate, no one likes soggy bread. When it’s time to eat, heat the eggs in a microwave and make the sandwich, toasting is not necessary, although an added luxury. 

2. Overnight oats: 

  1. In a jar combine:
    1. About ⅓ cup oats
    2. Nut butter to taste (peanut, nutella, cookie butter)
    3. Honey
    4. Banana
    5. Water or milk that covers the oats completely. 
  2. Either shake or leave oats layered
  3. Refrigerate overnight, eat cold the next morning or pop in the microwave. 

Notes: get creative! Add flaxseed meal for fiber, chia seeds for omega-3s (but careful! These are a natural laxative), add peanut butter and frozen berries for a pb/j taste, add pb and chocolate chips that will melt in the microwave, add cinnamon for a “fall” flavor. This one might take a few tries to perfect the ratios, but is a great go-to meal-prep breakfast that will leave you full and satisfied. 


I find this to be the hardest meal to prep for because I often have to pack it, but I don’t want to eat the same thing for dinner. So here is my easiest go-to. 

  1. Pesto pasta: Something you can eat cold or hot is a great thing for lunch because I’m not sure what I’ll want once lunch time comes around.
    1. Boil a full bag of your favorite pasta shape (I like bow tie)
    2. Cook up a package of ground turkey, adding salt, pepper, chili flakes, or whatever spices you’d like. (Ground meat is easy to make in a pan with a bit of oil, break it up with your spatula, then cook until the meat isn’t pink). 
    3. Chop up some zucchini and yellow squash and place in a pan with a tablespoon of water and a lid, this will help soften them a bit before sauteeing. 
    4. Add frozen or fresh spinach to your veggies.
    5. Add everything together, pasta, veggies, ground turkey, mix in as much pesto as you’d like, plus any extra of your favorite veggies. 
    6. Separate into containers for the week instead of one big container that you have to re-distribute later (this will save time and cleaning).

Reheat in the microwave, or eat cold as a pasta salad. 


  1. Vegetable stew
    1. Chop 1 potato, 1 yam, 1 large broccoli tree, a bunch of kale (or buy it pre-chopped in a bag), 1 yellow onion, and a few cloves of garlic depending on how long they’ve been sitting in your pantry. Also open a can of beans (black or chickpea).
    2. In a large pot on the stove, coat the bottom with cooking oil, add onions and garlic, mix around until golden brown. 
    3. Add all the veggies, but hold the kale until the end. 
    4. Pour chicken or veggie stock over veggies to fill the pot about half way (the veggies will cook down a bit). You can also use water, but stock adds more protein. 
    5. Cover with a lid, stirring every few minutes, until you can easily pierce a potato with a fork. 
    6. Once everything is cooked, add kale, and any extra flavorings. I like adding salt, pepper, chili flakes, and the Tikka Masala Curry Sauce from Trader Joe’s. But, the stew is still good with just the stock flavoring. 
    7. Make some rice to pour your stew over, and toast some sourdough to dip into your warm bowl of deliciousness. 


Having snacks at the ready is crucial so as not to spend the extra few dollars here and there on some random candy from a vending machine. My favorite are oatmeal protein bites. 

  1. Oatmeal protein bites
    1. In a bowl pour about half a cup nut butter
      1. 2 tablespoons honey
      2. A few chocolate chips.
      3. Melt all together
    2. Add rolled oats until the mixture is malleable, but not too dry. 
    3. Roll into balls, and put in a container for the week! I store mine in the fridge for a longer shelf life, but they will keep in your backpack as a snack throughout the day. 
    4. Getting the ratio of the butters to the oats may take a few tries, and get creative with Cookie Butter, Nutella, or another nut butter. 


Ordering drinks out easily racks up spending for the week, here are my two favorite drinks that are a little fancier than plain coffee or tea. 

  1. Homemade hot chocolate → Makes 1 mug rich hot chocolate
    1. Combine:
      1. two tablespoons cocoa powder
      2. 1 tablespoon sugar 
      3. 1 tablespoon boiling water into a mug. Mix together to form a paste, this will prevent the cocoa from clumping when you add more water. 
    2. Then add one cup of hot water, and mix well. From here I tend to add a splash of oat milk, maybe a few chocolate chips, and a splash of vanilla. You could also make it with dairy milk, add more sugar, or go for a molasses-y taste with brown sugar. If you’re making a big batch, make the paste first, then mix it in with water on the stove top.  
  2. London fog → you can also make this same combination of flavorings with Black tea
    1. earl gray tea 
    2. splash of vanilla
    3. honey to taste
    4. Milk of your choice 
  3. Coffee → I don’t drink a lot of coffee, so I’m not much help here, but you could add coffee to your hot chocolate for a mocha, or to chai for a dirty chai. 

Get creative! You can enjoy food on a budget, it just takes a bit of practice and planning to see what you like and what works for you. Once I’ve found my few favorite recipes, I go to the store about once a week, spend $50-80, then take two hours on a Sunday to prepare my meals for the week. Happy eating!

Audrey Rekedal is a junior at Seattle Pacific University and a new writer for Her Campus! She is double majoring in Political Science and Economics, and is still figuring out what that means for her future. She is from sunny southern California, but has learned to love Washington even with the gloomy weather. Audrey keeps busy with her involvement in SPU's rowing team, walking on as a freshman, and now starting her third year on varsity. Outside of school, Audrey loves hiking or doing anything outside, she loves painting, reading, and watching movies. Audrey is excited to share her perspective on Her Campus on anything from social justice to why Trader Joe's is the best grocery store.