Here are 11 easy-to-prepare, healthy and inexpensive meals for college and university students. Make the next Meatless Monday delicious and nutritious, plus save money by not eating out.
1. The most obvious of homemade lunch ideas to start with is salad. But what kind? Students need something more substantive than merely cucumber, lettuce and tomato to get them through a day on campus. Toss in chick peas or kidney beans for protein, some croutons to offer that “full” feeling with carbs, and sprinkle in lemon juice with olive oil for the perfect multi-vitamin salad.
2. Falafel-to-go. This is simple: open a pita, pile in hummus, add vegetables of your choice and finish with falafel balls (either ready-to-eat from the freezer or make your own ahead of time from a falafel mix). This is a delicious, nutritious and cheap vegetarian meal.
3. Potatoes au gratin (a fancy way of saying potatoes with cheese). Take thinly sliced potatoes (preferably red-skinned or Yukon gold, because they are better at holding their shape), add sliced onion, cover with shreds or chunks of your favourite cheese, then bake and enjoy.
4. Corn and bean salad is speedy, yummy and filling (oh, and cheap). All it takes is a can of corn, a can of mixed beans and chopped bell pepper for good measure. A fun and easy dressing can be oil, red wine vinegar, cumin and garlic.
5. Take a walk on the wild side. Here’s a vegetarian lunch with some flair: sautéed portabella mushrooms over arugula with sautéed zucchini, avocado and creamy dressing. Coat the mushrooms in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. The dressing ingredients are blended avocado, lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, and garlic powder.
6. Veggie tacos have fun written all over them. Take vegetarian “beef” crumbles, chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, beans and cheese and put it all in a taco shell.
7. Make your own poke bowl or sushi salad. Rice—which is quite inexpensive—is the base for this dish, which combines chopped veggies (cucumber, bell pepper, avocado) and pieces of nori (toasted sheets of seaweed). Add drops of rice vinegar, soy sauce or/and lemon juice for a dressing.
8. Trendy can be inexpensive. Think whole grain couscous (or quinoa) with sautéed veggies and roasted sweet potatoes.
9. Meatless stuffed peppers keep the focus on the veggie and spice filling, not whatever meat they’re stuffed with. Try bell peppers stuffed with corn, quinoa and beans, spiced with cumin and then baked.
10. Cabbage is cheap and nutritious—and easy to work with for a crisp, cool salad. Combine chopped cabbage with dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds, mandarin oranges, sliced carrots and sliced almonds, and mix with an Asian dressing. Make it super easy with an inexpensive bag of cole slaw mix.
11. Supercharge with potato latkes. Toss in a food processor two chopped potatoes, a handful of chick peas, an egg and shredded coconut and kale leaves to taste. Mould into patties and bake until dark brown and tough. Enjoy with dollops of sour cream or applesauce. These are easy to make and eat, and they’re tasty.
These suggestions meet all the checkmarks for anyone looking for cost-effective lunches that are wholesome, vegetarian and easy to make.