The word “cooking” sometimes conjures up images of five-course meals, or elaborate recipes with extensive ingredient lists. For the average college student, especially one with just a microwave, finding the time to cook a meal that doesn’t come pre-packaged can be tough. However, it’s not really as hard as you think.
Whether you’re strapped for cash or strapped for time — or maybe both — the following are meal ideas that you can turn to when you need something tasty and filling in a hurry. Not only are the ingredients inexpensive, but any of these meals can be customized to fit whatever you have on hand.
10 recipes for to-go meals:
Skip the package when it comes to this easy breakfast option. It’s not only cheaper to buy a big package of plain oats, but it’s easier to switch up the toppings if you’re not feeling your normal combo that day.
Eggs are cheap and easy to cook in the microwave. They are also incredibly versatile because they can be mixed with almost anything. Try to keep a few staple items, like cheese, lunchmeat or hot sauce, on hand so you always have the makings of an omelet.
When plain scrambled eggs start to get a little boring, throw the mix in a warm tortilla for an easy breakfast burrito. This is also a great option for when you want eggs but need something you can eat on the run.
Fruit and yogurt with granola
Instead of buying pre-packaged containers of yogurt for a snack, go for a large tub of plain or vanilla flavored yogurt. You’ll get more servings for less money and plain yogurt is more versatile. Try a serving of yogurt for a small snack, or mix in a granola bar and fruit for a healthy breakfast.
Salads can be as simple as lettuce and some type of dressing, but making something a little more complex is easy. Try throwing in some chicken strips, cheese or chopped vegetables, or just top a salad with leftover meat or veggies from the night before.
Depending on what you put in them, quesadillas make a great snack, lunch or dinner. Stick with a quick cheese-only version when you’re in a hurry, or throw in some meat and veggies for a more substantial meal.
This one is a no-brainer. Whether it’s peanut butter and jelly, or ham and cheese, sandwiches take no time at all to make and are easy to package to eat on the go.
Potatoes are dirt cheap, and most microwaves come with a baked potato button to remove the guesswork for you. Once cooked, you can make mashed potatoes, have a baked potato alongside something else or just make a meal out of it. Try topping a baked potato with chili and cheese, or with cheese, bacon and sour cream.
When it comes to pizza, forget ordering out. If you’ve got some cheese, pasta or pizza sauce, and either English muffins, bagels or a pita pocket, you can make a pizza in less time than it takes to place an order at Domino’s.
You don’t need a stove to boil water or to make pasta. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat some water until it’s boiling. Add pasta and put the bowl back into the microwave until the pasta is as done as you’d like. Add pasta sauce, and maybe some frozen vegetables or sliced chicken, and you’re done. Make extra pasta so you can have another quick meal the next day.
Throw together a basic version of these easily-adaptable choices for a quick meal or snack, or when you just can’t think of anything else to eat. By mixing staple items with whatever ingredients you have at the time, your meal is always guaranteed to be interesting and satisfying.