It’s that time of year when making ramen noodles sounds more appealing than prepping an entire meal. We totally get that you’d rather be snuggled up watching Netflix than spending your night cooking — but if you’re looking to spice up your meals, we spoke to a couple of college students to figure out how. Your taste buds will thank you when you try out these easy meals below.
Olivia Ely, a freshman at Emmanuel College, uses her dorm kitchen often.“I make these a lot and they never fail to disappoint,” she says. “All you really need is aluminum foil, shrimp, quinoa, spinach and avocado — and you can make as many packets as you need! By using store-bought salsa and placing the packets in a pan on the stove, these are 100 percent doable in a dorm.” They definitely sound yummy and easy enough once you buy the ingredients!
Vegetable oil cooking spray
8 cups baby spinach
1 cup couscous
1 lb medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 large mango, peeled and diced
1 medium avocado, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Fold four 18-inch-long pieces of foil in half; unfold and coat inside with cooking spray.
Place 2 cups spinach in center of 1 half of each piece of foil.
Combine couscous with 1/4 cup water; divide evenly among packets, placing on top of spinach. Combine shrimp, 1/4 cup cilantro, oil and 1/2 tsp salt in a bowl.
Divide shrimp evenly among packets, placing next to couscous.
Fold foil to close and crimp edges to seal; place on grill; close lid; cook until packets are fully puffed, 10 minutes.
Combine remaining 1/4 cup cilantro with remaining 1/4 tsp salt, mango, avocado, tomato, onion, jalapeño and lime juice in a bowl.
Carefully cut foil to open; stir contents; garnish with salsa before serving.
Simple yet savory, you have to try cooking your chicken this way!
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 450°F
Line a baking dish or cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray or lightly brush with oil.
In small sauté pan, sauté garlic with the oil until tender.
Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar. Add additional herbs and spices as desired.
Season chicken with salt and pepper.
Place breasts in a prepared baking dish and cover with the garlic and brown sugar mixture.
Bake uncovered for 15-30 minutes, or until juices run clear. Cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of your chicken.
Pizza and grilled cheese in one? Yes, please! Olivia explains how she makes cooking this recipe even easier in a dorm. “To create a mock panini press, I wrap a textbook in tin foil and place it on top of the sandwich while it’s in the pan to press it down,” she says. “This is the best use I’ve found for my school books yet!” Very clever indeed, this is one recipe you’ll need to make ASAP.
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tsp. tomato paste
14.5 ounces fire-roasted canned tomatoes
¼ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
16 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 cup basil leaves
8 slices sourdough bread
3 tablespoons butter, melted
In a small saucepan, heat olive oil and garlic over a medium heat. Saute until softened, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste, stir to combine. Cook for one minute.
Add tomatoes, salt and sugar, whisk until tomato paste is fully incorporated. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until thickened. Set aside.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet or griddle to a medium heat.
Spread about 2 tablespoons of sauce on each slice of bread. Top with four ounces of slices of cheese. Top with 4-5 leaves of basil.
Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place the other two pieces of bread, sauce side down on cheese and basil. Brush tops with butter. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
Place sandwich butter-side down in a skillet heat to medium (work in batches if needed), brush other side with butter. Cook until golden brown and crispy on each side and the cheese is melted. (If you are having a hard time getting the cheese to melt, pop into a 350 degree oven for a few minutes.
This is qualified as a breakfast dish, but can be perfect for any time of day! Eggs, veggies, and cheese all in one -- you can’t go wrong. Break out the champagne and orange juice to make some mimosas and you’ll have yourself an ideal brunch.
2 cups Ore-Ida Shredded Hash Brown Potatoes, thawed
1 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups packed fresh spinach
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup grape tomatoes
1/4 cup milk (I use skim)
pinch of nutmeg
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375.
Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray; press down the Shredded Hash Brown Potatoes into the pie plate.
Bake for 8 minutes; remove from oven top with 1/2-cup shredded mozzarella and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a skillet.
Add spinach and tomatoes; cook for 3 minutes, or until spinach is wilted, stirring frequently.
Add garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and spread over potatoes.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper; whisk until thoroughly combined.
Pour over spinach and tomatoes.
Sprinkle the remaining shredded mozzarella over the pie.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting & then serve
5. Taco Pie
Tacos are always a hit when it comes to quick yet scrumptious food. This recipe includes all the basics but can be a fun way to spice up your Taco Tuesday nights.
“My college ‘fam’ was super hesitant when I told them what I was making for our Sunday dinner but they all loved it!” says Samantha Burke, a graduate from Siena College. “For just one, it can easily be 3-4 meals. Different from the recipe below, I use a circular pie tin, ground turkey — it’s leaner — and I also include onions/tomatoes/peppers!”
1 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent rolls
1 pound ground beef
1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
8 ounces shredded Mexican-style cheese blend
1 (14 ounce) bag tortilla chips, crushed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Lay crescent dough flat on the bottom of a square cake pan and bake according to package directions.
Meanwhile, brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the taco seasoning and stir together well. When dough is done, remove from oven and place meat mixture on top, then layer with sour cream and cheese, and then top off with the crushed nacho chips.
Return to oven and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted.
6. Banana, Oat, and Egg ‘Pancakes’
Caitlyn Clausen, a senior at Emmanuel College, shares her favorite healthy and easy to make treats. “I like to top mine with fresh fruit, maple syrup or almond butter!” She says. Not only do they taste great but they are affordable too.
2 whole eggs or 3 egg whites
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 ripe banana
Stir in eggs then stir in rolled oats.
Mix it all together (add a pinch of salt and cinnamon)
Cook them like you would pancakes.
You could say we saved the best for last - if you love buffalo sauce that is. Mixed with classic mac and cheese, you can’t go wrong with this meal.
1/2 pound elbow macaroni, uncooked
1 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large boneless skinless chicken breast, patted dry and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup hot sauce
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 teaspoon salt
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook macaroni as directed on the package until al dente, roughly 10 minutes. Drain into a colander.
While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 teaspoon oil. Add the chicken and cook for 4 minutes then flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. Remove the chicken to a bowl and keep warm.
In the same skillet without cleaning, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook until softened, roughly 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds.
Whisk in the flour to coat and cook 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Whisk in the cheese until melted then whisk in hot sauce, ranch, and salt.
Once everything is cooked, mix together the cooked macaroni, sauce, and chicken. Serve immediately.
Simple yet flavorful ingredients always make for yummy meals, no matter how lazy you may be. Don’t be afraid to try something new and even invite your friends to cook with you. Enjoy!