In Part 1, I outlined healthy foods that are inexpensive and easy to find (you have no excuse to buy ten packets of Ramen…) Today I’ve got some cheap, nutritious and delicious recipes that can be made to save your health and a few bucks. These will be easiest for those with apartments or kitchens in their dorms (lucky!). The last post in the series will be for those who have very limited access to cooking equipment.
Tilapia and Veggie Rice (ok, so the titles are terribly creative.)
2 tilapia fillets, thawed or fresh
1/2 can of beans-o-choice, drained
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stocks, chopped
1/2 zucchini or yellow squash, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 small broccoli crown, chopped
Minced garlic, enough to suit your taste
2 Tbs honey mustard (or if you’re really tight on cash, salt + pepper + paprika will taste just fine)
1 tsp olive oil
1/4-1/3 cup dried rice
1. On stove top or in microwave, prepare the rice according to the box’s directions. (or you can be like me, deliberately ignore the instructions, eyeball the water amount, over estimate and end up with rather watery rice. That’s how I roll. One would think I would learn…)
2. In a frying pan, add a tsp of olive oil add the onions and garlic and sautee for about 3-5 minutes.
3. Toss in the tilapia fillets and cook for about 6 minutes, or until their mostly cooked through and are starting to flake.
4. Add in the carrots, celery, broccoli, squash and beans. Cook until the broccoli is bright green and the carrots are slightly soft. The fish should be thoroughly cooked by now.
5. In the bowl you plan to eat in, dump your rice and the fish/vegetable mixture in. Season with either the honey mustard or salt/pepper and paprika blend and mix through.
Ta-daa! A healthy dose of veggies, decent grains and delicious fish in one meal (and most likely cheaper than a Starbucks latte).
Balsamic Veggies and Chicken
1/2 cabbage head, chopped very fine (if you have a blender or food processor, make good use of it now. And yes, cabbage.)
1/2 onion, diced (maybe the other half from the previous recipe? 2 for 1 deal on that onion.)
1 beet, peeled and diced up in to cubes (careful, beets will stain clothing!)
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped up
1 zucchini, chopped
1 can of chicken (I like Trader Joe’s, it just seems less icky than some of the other brands.)
Generous dousing of balsamic vinegar and minced garlic
1. Preheat the oven to 400 and lightly grease (spray oil works) a 9×13 pan.
2. Toss in all the veggies and chicken then douse the whole thing in balsamic vinegar.
3. Cover with foil (but not necessary if foil isn’t in your budget) and bake for 30-40 minutes.
Enjoy! The balsamic vinegar can be a bit pricey at first but it’s a solid investment and a little goes a long way. This magical liquid makes anything taste better, as does garlic. They are the Albus Dumbledore and Faux the Phoenix of the food world.
Skip the pop-tarts for breakfast! Oatmeal combinations (if you have room in your budget for protein powder, add a scoop to your breakfast oatmeal)
Banana and peanut butter
Frozen berries and cinnamon
Cocoa powder and peanut butter
An alternative to oatmeal: poached eggs (my favorite way to eat them)! This makes poaching fast and easy (and not illegal). Poach two eggs and slap some PB & J in a sandwich (there’s always room in my wallet for peanut butter and jelly fixings). You’ll get a healthy dose of protein and fats that will keep you full longer than Eggos or pop-tarts will.
Black Bean Stir-fry
1 can black beans, drained
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
Multiple fistfuls of kale, shredded/torn in small, edible pieces)
1-2 chicken breast, cubed (you can also use canned chicken or fish for this)
1/2 onion, chopped
Minced garlic, a lot
Chili powder, paprika, cumin and salt/pepper to taste
Tsp olive oil
1. In a large frying pan, heat oil to coat the pan and toss in the onions and garlic and cook about 3-5 minutes.
2. Add the chicken (if raw cook, 6-8 minutes, if canned heat for 2-4 minutes).
3. Add in the beans and tomatoes and spices. Cook about 4-5 minutes or until heated through.
4. Toss in the kale and stir around until all the kale is bright green and wilted.
There ya go! A cheap and veggie packed Mexican dish (skip the Taco Bell). You can also serve this over rice if you desire.
That should be enough to get you started. All these recipes can be rearranged, added to and subtracted from in order to suit your palate. Experiment! That’s the best way to cook! Each recipe is loaded with healthy doses of protein, fiber and vitamins that most college diets woefully lack.
I also linked two of my other recipes I’ve posted in the past:
Both are cheap and easy to make as well. (I lived off the John Deere pancakes because kale is ultra cheep (.99/pound… do you know how much kale that is?!) and so are eggs and oatmeal. The ingredients for the granola last a long time so it’s a bit more money for the initial ingredient investment but I’ve managed 7-8 batches of granola off of my original purchase.
It is a challenge to eat healthy on a budget, but it can be done.