Q: I’m interested in some ideas for easy, but delicious recipes to cook for college kids. I’ve lived two years on campus at Texas State and purchased meal trades those two years. I’m used to having hot and ready meals after a tiring practice. Next year, though, I’ll be living in an apartment with a huge and spacious kitchen. But I’m afraid I’ll get so busy that I’ll hardly use the kitchen and buy take-out every day instead. Do you have some suggestions for recipes that may be filling but easy to make – and good for athletes? I would like to practice a few dishes now before I go back to school so that I’ll have a few recipes “down” before fall. – Kendra, San Marcos, TX
A: Kendra, this brings me back to my days in college when I lived on SpaghettiOs – ate them with my Ruffles potato chips and polished them off with a couple of Dr. Peppers. A meal for a champion, right? All the while majoring in Health and Physical Education! Now I’m trying to teach my daughter, who’s also in college, to avoid a diet of fast and processed foods. I’ve been making her try lots of fruits and veggies and having her watch me cook so that she’ll know how to do it when she, too, goes back to school in the fall.
We all tend to get caught in the trap of take-out and processed foods because we’re busy and tired and such food is quick and easy. But not only is take-out and processed food often unhealthy, but it also costs more. It’s okay once in a while, but you don’t want to make a steady diet of it. It’s always good to have a plan and I love the fact that you’re being proactive. You know you’ll be busy with school and practice. So keep your refrigerator and cupboards stocked with healthy alternatives that you can prepare and eat in very little time. This includes nuts, fresh fruits, veggie trays, and low-fat yogurt. Try cereals that are low in sugar and carbs and low-fat milk. Also be sure to include plenty of water.
Here are a couple of easy recipes that we found on the Minnesota State University’s Student Health Services website. We were tickled to find the “Zesty SpaghettiOs” recipe and the Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie would equip you with leftovers for several days at a time. Let us know what you think and continue tuning in – for the next several weeks we’ll feature many more easy, inexpensive and nutritious recipes ideal for college students!
2 cans (15oz) Original or Fun Shapes SpaghettiOs
1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp chili powder
½ cup shredded reduced fat Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
Combine all the ingredients except the cheese in a large non-stick skillet. Cook uncovered over medium heat until heated through, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with cheese, cover and cook until cheese melts, about 1-2 minutes.
* Mix together low-fat yogurt and fresh fruit for a tasty dessert and to make a balanced meal.
Yields 4 servings; estimated cost per serving, $1.35
315 calories, 2.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 g cholesterol, 940 mg sodium, 55 g carbohydrates, 12 g dietary fiber, 13 g protein
Chicken & Biscuit Pot Pie
3 cooked, skinless boneless chicken breasts, diced (or 1 can [10 oz] chicken breast in water)
2 c frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 can (10 ¾ oz) cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup skim or 1% milk
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp black pepper
4 refrigerator biscuits (like Pillsbury Hungry Jack)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat an 8”X8” baking dish with cooking spray (like PAM). Add chicken, mixed vegetables and onion to baking dish; stir to mix. In a medium bowl, mix together soup, milk, garlic powder and pepper. Pour the soup mixture evenly over the chicken and vegetables, and then place the biscuits on top. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until the biscuits are browned and the mixture is heated through. Complete your meal with canned (whole berry) cranberry sauce and a glass of milk.
Yields 4 servings; estimated cost per serving, $1.45
300 calories, 7 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 450 mg sodium, 36 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber, 24 g protein