The Healthy Student’s Guide to University Recipes

The Healthy Student’s Guide to University Recipes

One of the biggest things you'll miss when you leave for university is home cooking. Weirdly enough, as most students admitted, they didn't even think about this. When they left for the first time, they imagined they would miss their hometown, their family, and friends, maybe their dog, but never once did they think about the food. It's such a natural given that you don't stop to think about it for a second. However, sooner than later, most students find out it's not easy to cook for themselves. Plus, eating at the cafeteria or going out to eat can be unhealthy, time-consuming, and expensive.

We've all heard and read stories around the internet of students who eat mostly ramen all the time. Although unfortunate, it's true. Ramen, just like curry, for example, is just a very simple and money-saving alternative to everything else food related. But that doesn't make it alright. University is actually one of the most taxing periods you'll ever experience in your life, filled with sleepless nights and never-ending days. This is why eating right is essential. Therefore, we are here to destroy the myth that students can't eat well on a budget and with very little time spent in the kitchen, by providing you with this healthy student's guide to university recipes.

A. The importance of eating healthily whilst at university

As mentioned above, it's extremely important to eat healthy while in college. Why? Because most of your 4 years in college will be filled with things like: “I have eight different tests this week, so I will only be sleeping in the weekend”, “I must join every club because I want to make friends, start networking, and do as many extracurricular activities as I can”, “It's four in the morning. Why don't we get some trays from the cafeteria and slide-race them down the stairs of the dorm?”

All this translates into the fact that your schedule while in college will be packed tightly with all sorts of activities. There will be no time to sleep, relax or rest at all. But this also means you need to take extra care of yourself. And alimentation is the first thing to look at. Indeed, college will go out of its way to throw as many obstacles in your path as possible, food wise, but you need to try and surpass them.

According to some extensive surveys in college weight gain, first-year undergrads gain some eight pounds during the first year, most of them in the first semester even. That's because you no longer have your parents with you, making sure you eat well. This can lead to obesity and heart problems in the long run and fatigue, nausea, headaches, and lack of concentration on the short run. Therefore, in order to avoid these perils, make sure you eat well right from the start.

B. Amazing recipes by year of study

As a first-year student, chances are you've never touched a skillet in your life. You've never boiled an egg, and you can't even begin to imagine how a treacle tart is made. But that's alright because you don't really have to know. In fact, this is one of the reasons why students tend to shy away from cooking when they go to university. Most students associate cooking with complicated recipes, such as Beef Wellington or Shepard's Pie, which scare them away from the kitchen. It's understandable, seeing as this is what they usually ate at home. But it shouldn't necessarily be like that. This is why we've found some excellent university recipes and divided them by year of study.

1. First year undergrad recipes

These ones are under the ‘first-year undergrad' category because they require almost no cooking or experience at all. They can either be simply whipped up by mixing some ingredients or by using a microwave to make it as simple and quick as possible for the first-year student.

  • Breakfast recipes
  • Lunch recipes
  • dinner recipes
  • Dessert recipes

Sweet diced fruit with cottage cheese – it takes 5 minutes to prepare it and it's both gluten-free and lacto-vegetarian. Choose any sweet fruit you like and mix it up with a good dollop of cottage cheese. It's a fresh and healthy breakfast that will provide a few hours' worth of energy

Egg and sausage sandwich – it takes around 6 minutes to make this. You need to scramble 2 eggs and place them in the microwave for a few minutes to cook. Take them out, cut an English muffin in half, place the egg and the sausage inside and you're good to go. You can actually eat this one in class, to save some time.

Cream cheese and jelly on delicious warm bread – just 2 minutes is all you need for this healthy meal. The recipe is just as you imagine. Spread jelly and cream cheese on the warm bread and enjoy with a nice cup of strong, sweet tea.

Egg toast with grated cheese – this one is extremely delicious and easy to make. The only thing is that you need a toaster. Cut a thick slice of bread, hollow the middle, crack an egg in the hollowed space, sprinkle grated cheddar around it and place it in the toaster. Here is what you'll have when it comes out.

Traditional English tea sandwiches – these might remind you a bit of what your great aunt used to serve when you went to visit her as a child, but they will make for a perfect, easy, and healthy meal alternative while in university. You can try the cucumber sandwich, made with white bread, butter, and cucumbers, the smoked salmon one, with added crème fraiche, or the watercress sandwich, with either boiled egg or goat cheese to complement the watercress.

2. Second year undergrad recipes

In your second year of study, you've probably gained a bit more experience in cooking. These recipes, apart from an increased level of difficulty, introduce limited use of a stove and produce rather large quantities of food.

  • Breakfast recipes
  • lunch recipes
  • dinner recipes
  • dessert recipes

English muffin pizza – This is as easy as they get. Half you English muffin, add tomato sauce, grated cheese, and some pepperoni on top. Place it in the microwave for only a few minutes, until the cheese starts to melt.

Hardy egg salad – you need to first chop up the egg whites of several hard boiled eggs. Then you have to combine the yolks with some mustard and mayo. Then add the egg yolk mixture to the whites and pair everything with lettuce and vegetables.

Café tuna melt – this is another classic sandwich, which you mostly find in cafes. Mix some canned tuna with mayonnaise, spoon it over toast and add a thick slice of your favourite cheese, preferably one that melts. Go back to the toaster and let it sit there until the cheese has melted thoroughly.

Breaded baked chicken – this is one recipe that can get as messy as you want. Rub some mayo on the chicken breasts until they are fully covered. Then coat the meat in breadcrumbs and cook it for 30 minutes. An important thing here is to cook it covered, so that it doesn't burn or dry out. You can then uncover the chicken and cook it for an additional 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Wrap with Caesar salad – as simple, yet as delicious as they come. Spread out a tortilla, add some green lettuce, shredded chicken breast, and plenty of Caesar salad dressing. Wrap everything up nice and tightly, so that the sauce doesn't drip.

3. Third year undergrad recipes

This particular set of recipe ideas will require full use of a stove. However, since you are in your third year and you now have access to the kitchen and its appliances, you are able to try more intricate and equally delicious meals.

  • breakfast recipes
  • lunch recipes
  • dinner recipes
  • dessert recipes

Eton mess – this is, probably, the most iconic university desserts of all time. The story of this amazing desert is that there were some picnickers at Eton, of course, which had packed a lunch in a basket. It also included a big merengue, which they were planning to eat for dessert. Their dog, however, a Labrador, sat on it and crushed it, making it combine with some fruit and cream, which also got crushed. The picnickers ate it anyway, and the dessert got named Eton mess.

4. Final year undergrad/first year postgraduate recipes 

Whether you are in your fourth and final year, or your first post-grad year, you don't have so much time to cook anymore, that's why we'll only include a few recipes here. However, you now have enough training and experience to whip up just about anything, so these fancy recipes should be right up your alley.

  • breakfast recipes
  • lunch recipes
  • dinner recipes
  • dessert recipes

Eggs Benedict – This is quite a complicated recipe, but as stated above, you can now pull it off. First of all, you need to poach the eggs, which will not be an easy task to accomplish. Secondly, you will have to make a hollandaise sauce from scratch, something very tricky to do. Once you've mastered these two, put some broccoli over the egg, a piece of ham on top, and then lavish everything with the buttery sauce.

Breakfast cups with ham and cheese – You will require a muffin tin for this. Place a slice of bacon in each cup, add spinach, beaten eggs, and grated cheese. Fill the tin to the brim and place it in the oven to brown.

C. University recipes on a budget

One of the main reason university students have so poorly balanced and unhealthy meals is that they don't have a lot of money. Food, especially the healthy kind, tends to be expensive, which acts as a deterrent to a student trying to keep his eating habits in normal limits. However, you can still eat healthy even of on a budget, if you choose the right recipes.

Here are some examples...

  • Hash browns, all kinds of pancakes and French toast – they require very little and very cheap ingredients.
  • Eggs – use eggs as much as you can, in all the combinations you can think of. They are amongst the cheapest and healthiest foods.
  • Pasta – pasta is very cheap as well and there are literally thousands of recipes out there. This means you won't get bored very easily by this dish.
  • ​Sandwiches – choose light and healthy ingredients, such as chicken, turkey, vegetables, peanut butter, and cheeses. They are also fairly cheap.
  • Choose fruit over store bought sugary treats. They are a lot cheaper, not to mention healthier.

Here are a few tips for eating cheap while in university...

  • Stick to local and seasonal fruits and vegetables. They will always be cheaper than exotic ones and those which are out of season.
  • Never go for fast food. Apart from the fact that it's extremely bad for your health, it will never keep you full, satisfy your hunger or your body's need of proteins and vitamins. You will end up spending much more than you originally thought.
  • Homemade sweets are a lot healthier and much cheaper than store bought ones. Simply because, making a humble pie at home will cost you a few pounds and it serves one person for three days.

D. University recipes for vegans and raw vegans

If you happen to be a vegan, then you might be in luck as far as spending money on food is concerned. Meat is by far the most expensive food group and it's the one exact thing you've decided not to eat. As far as ideas go, the recipes are basically the same, only that the meat is replaced with other ingredients.

Here are some examples:

  • Bean and butternut chili, where the butternut squash replaces the beef.
  • Vegan tortillas, that are full of tomatoes, corn, courgette, fresh peppers, and onions.
  • ​Spaghetti or any other type of pasta for that matter, mixed with absolutely anything you want, from vegan-friendly pesto to Pasta Primavera.
  • Stews are another great idea because they allow you to successfully combine an amazing assortment of vegetables into one, super dish.
  • Soups take the crown as the easiest, cheapest, and healthiest vegan university recipes. Anything goes from chickpea to cream of mushroom (using coconut or soya cream, of course!)

Going raw-vegan while in university is not easy, because it can't really be done on a budget. It's a well-known fact that raw-vegan recipes require a multitude of ingredients, which is why they are, usually, costly.

However, here are some tips for keeping within your university budget and still eating raw...

  • You can grow sprouts yourself. All you need are a few jars and some seeds, which are almost always inexpensive at specialized stores.
  • Focus on the staples of raw cuisine and always keep them in your pantry – all sorts of seeds, dried herbs, mustard, lentils, and all sorts of beans, sprouting seeds, oats, wheat berries, stevia, nuts, sundried tomatoes, wasabi, and quinoa are just a few.
  • Always be on the lookout for deals because most of these ingredients are pricey. When you spot such a deal, hurry and stock up your pantry.
  • ​Buy in bulk. This means never buying 100 grams of something, but, as stated above, stacking up.
  • ​Go for online shops instead of traditional ones. Usually, if you buy enough of something, they will give you a big discount.
  • ​Find ‘shopping-buddies'. If you have friends or colleagues who share your appetite for raw-vegan meals, convince them to pitch in and buy the products you need. Remember, for online stores, the more you buy, the bigger the discount.
  • ​Go to ethnic markets, because they too offer great deals on special products.
  • ​Use as many inexpensive substitutes as you can, while you are tied to your university budget. For example, you can replace lemon and lime juice with vinegars, as they are considerably cheaper. Sunflower seeds can replace almost every other nut and seed in any recipe, while sesame seeds go great with tahini and hummus.

Eating healthy while in university is not such a tricky business after all. Most students end up on a very bad meal plan during their academia years simply because they give up trying. Cooking is not difficult, as proved by all the recipe ideas we showed above and it's not expensive either. Actually, dinning out and eating fast-food is a lot pricier than cooking for yourself.

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