Sick of eating cereal and ramen for lunch and dinner? Want to spend less money eating out and finally start cooking for yourself? Put down that frozen pizza, because HC’s Health Editor, Sammie Levin, is here to share her daily eats so you can get ideas for healthy, satisfying meals that are easy enough for any time-strapped collegiette to make. After you read Collegiette Eats, your taste buds, wallet and waistline will thank you.
It can be easy to find yourself in a lunch rut, making the same turkey sandwich or buying the same salad every day when you're on the go in between classes. It can also be easy to inadvertently overeat at lunchtime if you find yourself at a quick-serve restaurant where all the sandwiches have at least 700 calories. But lunch doesn't have to be that way! Try out some of these options for healthy alternatives on your favorite lunch classics. They all have fewer than 300 calories, and better yet, they all only have four ingredients or fewer, so you can whip them up quickly without much fuss.
1. Portobello Mushroom Pizza
This is quite possibly the greatest creation ever to hit the Internet: a crustless pizza that still tastes like pizza. Granted, it’s nowhere near as good as the real deal, but for using a mushroom as the crust (that's right), it is pretty amazing. Next time you’re craving the ‘za, whip up this version that is lower in calories and higher in nutrients. You could have two to three for a reasonably sized lunch, or enjoy one to two with a salad or something else on the side.
- 1 big portobello mushroom cap
- ¼ cup shredded low-fat cheese
- ¼ cup pizza sauce
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove stem of mushroom.
- Place mushroom on baking sheet; bake for five minutes.
- Remove from oven and fill cup of cap with sauce and cheese.
- Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted.
- Dig in!
2. Berry Smoothie
Smoothies are a quick, refreshing lunch that are hard to get bored of since there are endless possibilities for flavor combinations. Experiment with your favorite yogurt flavors and fruit and see what you like best!
- 1 6-oz container plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup frozen mixed berries
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- Blend all ingredients except chia seeds.
- Once smooth, pour into glass and stir in chia seeds.
- Let sit in fridge for at least 20-30 minutes so chia seeds start to absorb liquid.
3. Lentil, Butternut Squash and Kale Sauté
This light dish will fill you up thanks to the protein in the lentils, and it’ll warm you up too, so it’s a perfect lunch for an especially cold day.
- ½ cup ready-to eat-steamed lentils (can buy at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s)
- 1 cup cooked butternut squash cubes (can buy frozen or fresh; cook according to package directions)
- 1 cup kale
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- Prepare lentils according to package directions.
- Sautee kale and cooked butternut squash cubes in olive oil for five minutes (can add some minced garlic and lemon juice if desired).
- Mix together ingredients in bowl and chow down!
4. Light Tuna Salad
By using Greek yogurt instead of mayo, you get rid of a lot of the calories and fat and add in protein to your tuna salad without losing any creaminess. Make a big batch and store it in the fridge so you have it as an option throughout the week.
- 1 can tuna
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- Chopped celery and green onion (as much as you want!)
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- Mix all ingredients in bowl.
- Add to a salad, a sandwich, on top of crackers or eat plain!
5. Fried Egg and Veggies
Want breakfast for lunch? Make this bowl of yolky, veggie goodness for a simple but tasty meal.
- 1 egg
- 1 cup kale
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- ½ avocado
- Sauté kale in a little bit of olive oil for five minutes.
- Fry egg.
- While kale and egg are cooking, chop up tomatoes and avocado.
- Mix all ingredients in bowl.
- Cut egg so yolk drips over all ingredients like a dressing.
6. Spaghetti Squash
Just like the mushroom pizza, this dish finds a way to make a healthier version of what’s usually considered to be a less healthy option. The squash strands function as spaghetti, making for a "pasta" dish that’s lower in calories and carbs but higher in vitamins. Mix it up by trying different mix-ins and sauces.
- 1 cup cooked spaghetti squash (read how to cook it here)
- ½ cup garbanzo beans
- 1 cup spinach
- ¼ cup pasta sauce
- Heat up cooked squash strands in microwave for one minute.
- If desired, sauté spinach in a little bit of olive oil for five minutes.
- Add garbanzo beans and spinach to strands, top with pasta sauce and microwave for another 30 seconds to one minute.
Want more easy, healthy recipe ideas? Check out these five healthy meals you can make using only a microwave and these 10 snacks with fewer than 300 calories! Now you can finally get out of that lunch rut for good.