Dinners to Satiate Serious Hanger

Image by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

The constant motion of collegiate life makes it all too easy to reach for convenience foods in times of hunger induced rage, but with a little bit of advanced planning, nutritious and satisfying meals are not far out of reach. 

My basic formula for deciding what to cook is vegetable + starch + protein, and quick cooking varieties are key. Frozen vegetables are an excellent resource; they make variety more attainable without having to worry about a ton of fresh produce going bad. Just stick them in the microwave for a few minutes and add instant nutrients to a meal. And if you’re feeling really proactive, another favorite of mine is to roast a giant sheet pan full of vegetables to use throughout the week. A few of my go-to healthy starches are whole wheat pasta, quick cooking grains like farro and quinoa, or a microwaved sweet potato, all of which take about ten minutes to cook. Protein sources can vary based on meat vs. non-meat preferences, but I’ve found that a combination of both works best for me. Good plant sources include legumes like chickpeas, black beans, and lentils, as well as nuts and seeds. Easy non-plant protein sources are eggs, fish (frozen tilapia filets are pretty cheap and quick cooking, or canned tuna is also a great option), and dairy.

After a long day of classes and running from one place to another, I cannot possibly be bothered to spend longer than ten minutes cooking my dinner, so here are a few of my go-to meals that don’t require a recipe and are ready in a flash.

1. Eggs and Toast

This is by far the meal I cook most for myself. I love eating eggs but don’t have the time to make them before class in the mornings, so dinner is the perfect time to eat them. My favorite combination is two fried eggs over medium served with avocado toast and wilted spinach. If avocados aren’t your jam, you can top your toast with any kind of cheese or vegetable, or just plain ol’ butter. Also it goes without saying any variety of egg cooking works here, but frying is my method of choice because its super fast and doesn’t require a separate dish for scrambling.

2. Pasta and Vegetables

My favorite way to add frozen vegetables to a pasta dish is to add them just before draining out the water. Typically, I use a small vegetable like peas so the boiling water defrosts them quickly without letting them get all mushy. I also like to leave just a little bit of the pasta water in the bottom of the pot and stir in some creamy cheese like goat cheese or ricotta so it melts together and makes an instant alfredo-like sauce. Adding in chickpeas also gives a good protein boost. 

3. Fish, quinoa, and Vegetables

Cooking fish can seem daunting, but it is basically the same principle as frying an egg. In the time that it takes for a piece of fish to cook through, you can boil a pot of quinoa or your grain of choice. Add frozen or pre-roasted vegetables to round it out. This basic combination, while nutritionally covering all the bases, can be a little bland, so I often like to vary things with different spices or sauces. For example, add pesto and mix the quinoa and vegetables together for a more exciting side dish, or dredge the fish in curry spices before cooking. The possibilities are endless!

4. Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Since sweet potatoes are so sweet, I like to pair them with savory foods, as I’ve found that a varied flavor profile really ups the satiating ability of a meal. I like to eat sweet potatoes with a taco-inspired filling. While microwaving the sweet potato (after poking holes in it so it doesn’t explode), I mix together drained and rinsed black beans with salsa and some chili powder. Then cut the sweet potato in half and fill it with the beany goodness, and top it with avocado and a fried egg. You could also forgo the egg in favor of some extra black beans, or swap out the avocado for cheese (or have both), whatever floats your boat.

Clearly, all of these suggestions are very forgiving and variable based on personal preferences. I’ve found the best way to cook for myself is to not worry about precision and just have fun with throwing together whatever sounds good. Happy eating!


Thumbnail Photo by Chris Lawton