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After a jam-packed day of classes, work, club meetings, and responsibilities, food is often the last priority to more important plans. It can definitely be easiest to grab a granola bar on the way to class for breakfast, make boxed macaroni and cheese for lunch, and order some pizza for dinner, but I find that this will also leave you feeling exhausted from lack of nutrients and probably unhappy from a lack of variety. Food is super important to me; this may sound embarrassing, but cooking and eating fun meals is something I look forward to every day! Transitioning from having a full pantry at home to fending for yourself at college can be tough, especially if you were fortunate enough to have a parent cook you meals during the Summer. But, don’t fret! I have some super easy and fairly healthy meal prep and recipe ideas for you that you will certainly not regret trying. 

Salmon Rice Bowl
  • If you haven’t seen Emily Mariko’s viral salmon meal all over the internet, you must have been living under a rock. As a salmon lover, I had to try this easy meal once I saw it, and it has become something I eat at least once a week for dinner.
  • The night before you plan on making this, place a piece of frozen salmon in the fridge to defrost (you can get a huge bag of frozen salmon from the grocery store for fairly cheap!) Then, when you are ready to make it, season both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and place into a heated pan with olive oil. While that is cooking, scoop white rice into a bowl–you can cook it in a pot/rice cooker, but I usually end up using minute-rice that you can simply microwave and serve to save time. Stir in teriyaki sauce and/or spicy mayo to your liking, add any veggies you like, and top with the salmon. You can eat the bowl just like this, or eat it the Emily Mariko way: by mixing everything together and eating each bite with a piece of packaged seaweed (you can find this in the grocery store foreign food section!) 
The “Big salad”
  • Yes, I called this one the “big salad” as a Seinfeld reference. To be fair, though, it does have a lot of stuff in it, and will not leave you feeling hungry like lots of other salads do. This is a good meal to make if you are in a dorm, because it doesn’t require any cooking. 
  • To make this, simply place your choice of greens into a bowl (my favorite is a mix of romaine and baby spinach). Add in grilled chicken breast, which you can pan sear and meal-prep ahead of time if you have a kitchen, or buy already made if not. If you are vegetarian, either skip this step or replace it with grilled tofu or a chopped veggie-burger! You can basically add in any other toppings you like after this–I usually add corn, avocado, olives, feta cheese, and cucumbers, but the options are limitless. Lastly, add whatever dressing you prefer. 
It's A Salad, Only Bigger, With Lots Of Stuff In It."
overnight chia pudding
  • This recipe is perfect to meal-prep the night before an early-morning class, when you know you’ll be tempted to skip out on breakfast. 
  • In a cup or jar, fill about halfway with chia seeds, the other half with your milk of choice (you can use sweetened milk, like vanilla oat milk, for some extra sweetness), and stir in honey/agave. Then, simply place in the fridge overnight, wake up, and enjoy a delicious creamy pudding! You can also add bananas or berries to the pudding for some extra nutrition. Now you’re ready to conquer the day!
“cacio e pepe” pasta
  • This dish certainly sounds fancy, but it translates from Italian to English as “cheese and pepper pasta”, and that’s basically all it is. 
  • Shred a large cup of parmesan/pecorino romano cheese–you can buy this in a container pre-shredded to save time. Then, crack ⅓-½ cup of black pepper–this sounds like a lot, but this pasta is supposed to be peppery. Cook some spaghetti, and make sure you save about ½ cup of pasta water before you drain. Then, in a pan, add the pasta water, cheese, and pepper, and mix until you get a thick sauce. Stir in the pasta, add to a bowl, and top with some more cheese. 
Ravioli with Garlic Sauce and Veggies
  • I’m a big pasta person, especially when it comes to stuffed-pasta like ravioli or tortellini. I have this dinner at least once a week, and it leaves me feeling satisfied while still being pretty healthy! 
  • At the start of the week, meal-prep some frozen veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, you name it!) either by air-frying or baking with olive oil and salt. You can save these veggies in Tupperware for the week. Now, on the night you want to have this meal, boil water and place your pre-made ravioli in for the appropriate amount of time. Once they are done and being strained, use the same pan to sauté some garlic, olive oil, and a little butter until cooked. Add in some of your prepared vegetables and shredded cheese. Then, mix the sauce in with your ravioli, top with salt/pepper as needed, add some extra cheese, and enjoy!
mexican-inspired salad
  • This is a super easy recipe to make at the start of the week and eat throughout. Make extra of this–once you try it, you’re going to want more! 
  • In a large bowl, mix in a can or two of corn, black beans, chopped red onions, and chickpeas. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add a few splashes of lemon juice, and a bit of italian seasoning if you like. I know cilantro is controversial, but I personally love it (I guess I don’t have that cilantro-soap-thing). If you’re like me, some chopped cilantro really picks this salad up. You can put this mix on top of greens, or eat with tortilla chips as a salad-like dip. 
Jordan is a senior Psychology major and Women & Gender Studies minor at TCNJ, with an interest in becoming a clinical psychologist in the future. In her free time, she loves making lengthy spotify playlists, drawing, trying out new recipes, and rewatching the same 5 tv shows over and over.
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