3 Healthy Foods For College Cooking

Even though I’ve been cooking at college for almost 3 years now, this is only my second semester being completely off meal plan. Last semester I spent a lot of time figuring out what was “reasonable”; sure, it’d be nice to cook dinner from scratch every night, but when the kitchen is 3 floors away and you’re tired from classes that’s just not happening. So I learned how to plan better and what the right foods were to keep around. And I also learned you can cook just about anything in the microwave. That was a pretty damn important life lesson.

But back to the food. I found out which foods worked best for me and on a budget. Whenever I seem to talk to people about going off meal plan, they have it in their head that they could eat out for every meal. I tell them the same thing each time: “That’s just not affordable.” But here’s what is.

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Eggs:

Since I became a vegetarian I’ve been eating more and more eggs. They’re versatile enough for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and a great source of protein. Best yet is that they’re cheap. I tend to get the 18-count pack at Whole Foods since I know I’ll go through them. I don’t worry about the cholesterol of the yolks since most science shows that it’s the saturated fats—not cholesterol—in foods that raises your own cholesterol and eggs are fairly low in saturated fats.

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There’s also a million ways to cook eggs, so you’ll never get tired of them. They’re an easy way to add calories to breakfast oatmeal or make into a meal scrambled and combined with sauce. And if you’re feeling really lazy, you can always scramble them and pop them in the microwave.

For more ideas take a look at the egg recipe page.

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Whole Grains:

Gluten-free whole grains are one of my pantry staples. They last forever so you can save a lot by buying in bulk. I’ll usually cook a pound at a time ration it out through the week so I don’t need to keep cooking more every day. And since there’s a huge variety, you’ll never get bored with what to eat. My favorites are oatmeal, quinoa, popcorn, and brown rice, which are all full of fiber and nutrients.

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These are great for college students because grains are budget friendly and all you need to cook them is a standard rice cooker(I use a Zojirushi), which makes it a dorm-room friendly food.

For ideas, look at the quinoa recipe page or learn how to season rice to make it tastier without much effort.

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Trail Mix(or nuts and dried fruit):

Calorie for cost, dried fruit and nuts are some of the best things for your budget. And they’re healthy, too! Just be sure to avoid ridiculously priced ones like goji berries or raw mammoth pecans; good old raisins and peanuts will treat your body just as well.

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You could just grab a handful and eat it as a snack, or use Ziploc baggies and portion them out into servings to take around with you. That way they’re much cheaper than most portioned snacks.

If you happen to have a food processor, I love mixing them into homemade Larabars and energy balls for something with a different taste and texture. Some good recipes to try are raw salted almond brownies, PB&J balls, honey peanut butter, and homemade Nutella.

If you have any other healthy bargain foods to add to the list in the comment section, I’m sure others(not to mention myself!) would love to hear!

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12 Responses to 3 Healthy Foods For College Cooking
  1. The Delicate Place
    January 29, 2012 | 10:31 am

    eggs are the perfect food for working peeps as well! cheap, whole nutrient packed and can be hard boiled for on the go or a nice omelet dinner haha. hey–who wants to spend an eternity cooking dinner after a work day? not me! another staple i love are bags of frozen veg, no excuses right? just microwave hit it with some EVOO and spices and you have a side dish for cheap/ease.

    • Wannabe Chef
      January 29, 2012 | 10:42 am

      I have never hard boiled an egg :-X It’s high on my list of things to do.

  2. Laura
    January 29, 2012 | 10:34 am

    Great post! Since becoming a vegetarian, I definitely eat a lot more eggs, nuts and quinoa.

  3. Amber K
    January 29, 2012 | 2:53 pm

    Those are some great staples when on a budget. I also like cheap veggies and fruit. Bananas (at least for now) are especially inexpensive.

  4. Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    January 29, 2012 | 5:07 pm

    Frozen vegetables are my life saver. You don’t have to worry about cooking them before they go bad (I always end up freaking out about rapidly deteriorating produce at my apartment) and they’re really easy to zap in the microwave and throw into salads when you’re making lunches in the morning. The ones I always have on hand are: broccoli, peas, edamame, and corn.

  5. BroccoliHut
    January 29, 2012 | 10:56 pm

    Great advice!

  6. steph p
    January 30, 2012 | 1:43 am

    omg! first of all you are precious. and i am so happy i found your blog yesterday. cannot believe you haven’t tried a boiled egg! it;s the best thing ever. and perfect for quick on the go brekkie. the perfectly boiled egg ( i do five at time for the week) bring to boil. turn off heat cover with lid for exactly 13 mins. perfection every time~ enjoy! (rinse with cold water then store)

  7. Kait
    January 30, 2012 | 5:41 pm

    Oh man…college cooking! Those were the days… ha. I could cook just about anything on a burner and in a microwave. When I finally had a full kitchen…I was so lost! 4 burners and an oven, what?

    Ditto on the frozen veggies comment. I was the queen of veggie stirfries, pasta with veggies, etc. I’m not GF though so pasta was cheap.

    Apples & bananas were my go-to as well as soy milk because it lasts so much longer in the fridge than cow’s milk and thus ends up being a better deal (because I don’t have to throw half of it out).

  8. GiGi Eats Celebrities
    January 31, 2012 | 11:55 pm

    Eggs are CERTAINLY awesome! Other goodies: spaghetti squash, butternut squash, pumpkin… YUM YUM YUM! Oh and frozen green beans ROCK! Roast them in the oven with olive oil and salt, healthy healthy french fries!

  9. Russell van Kraayenburg
    February 1, 2012 | 1:14 am

    I wish I had a friend like you in college to keep my diet in check.

  10. » Highlights: Whole Grains » Relishments
    February 5, 2012 | 9:11 pm

    [...] lists whole grains as one of his top 3 healthy foods for college cooking on Wannabe [...]

  11. [...] I ran across a great article at The Wannabe Chef, 3 Healthy Foods For College Cooking. The blog is written by Evan, a college student in New England. Evan tries to maximize a couple of [...]

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