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College is the best time to take full advantage of all the opportunities to grow into the person you want to be. Whether taking on extra classes, joining a club, or interning in your potential career, it is the time to fully work on yourself. These healthy college meal prep ideas will help you focus on becoming yourself without the worry of eating unhealthy or spending a lot of money on food you might forget about.
There are a variety of meals listed here that can be eaten throughout the year, and all of them made with simple ingredients. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t make some of the recipes completely. These are made to be altered to the best of your ability!
1. Smoothie Bags
MeowMeix is a health-conscious influencer who demonstrates various healthy food swaps and meal ideas. She has helped many college students realize that healthy eating is possible with just a few changes. These smoothies are great and meal-prep friendly. Leave them in your freezer for rushed mornings and you’re set for the day!
2. Overnight Oats
Overnight oats are a popular breakfast meal prep food, and they can be very delicious. CotterCrunch has an impressive one that is not limited to the mason jar, so small additions can make it even better if you are worried about not having a fulfilling breakfast. I prefer it this way so I can start my day with a fruit or veggie.
3. Egg Cups
Egg cups are a simple meal idea and last for a surprisingly long time. I’ve tried various ones myself and they haven’t disappointed me at all. It all depends on what you put into it and what toppings, if any, you add to it as well. You can even have this with an English muffin or as a side to your overnight oats. Let Show Me The Yummy help you prep!
4. Yogurt Parfaits
Yogurt parfaits are the best breakfast, dessert, or snack. If you need something sweet but want to stay on the healthy side, this is a great option. Gathering Dreams has a great guide to choosing your fruits and granola, and which ones pair best with each other. Or you can get your favorite fruits and layer as you wish!
5. Vegan Hummus Sandwich
An easy way to eat healthy college meals is to prep vegan dishes. This vegan hummus sandwich might not be an attainable college meal for everyone, but the best part about preparing your own vegan dishes is that you can put your more preferred veggies instead. The Simple Veganista has a lot of great vegan recipes that are simple and easy to prep, even for college students.
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OUR TOP COLLEGE MEAL PREP ESSENTIALS
6. Chicken Tacos
Lunch and dinner are easier to plan for, so you don’t have to be so picky about what you would want to eat. For instance, chicken tacos are so versatile and easy to meal prep. Tasty has a whole website on easy recipes, and many dedicated to college meal preps. Like a couple of recipes on this list, you can make a big batch of chicken and save it to add to whatever veggies or leftovers you already have. Convenient and budget-friendly!
7. Taco Bowl
Another use for big-batch protein is making your extra protein into a taco bowl, also convenient if you don’t have tortillas or lettuce for wraps. Since this is a recipe for a taco bowl, the ingredients are set to reflect it, but if you are using a big batch protein, you can change it to your liking or budget. Honestly, Sweet Peas and Saffron have become my go-to because they give a lot of alternatives!
8. Sun-dried Tomato Pasta
Hopefully, cheap ramen and unseasoned spaghetti are not all you end up eating in college. You can always upgrade this dish with uncomplicated swaps like choosing a pesto sauce instead of tomato. This sun-dried tomato pasta with spinach by Little Broken is so simple and flavorful that you will never want to eat plain pasta again!
9. Sesame Noodle Bowl
My favorite meals in college are the ones that are filling but don’t take a lot of time. This sesame noodle bowl has become a great takeout replacement. Edamame may be hard to find, so switch it out for peas if necessary. No guilty eating with Pinch of Yum’s recipe!
10. Black Bean and Corn Salad
Every once in a while, I see a vegan recipe that I wouldn’t mind incorporating into my weekly meal plan. This straightforward, no cook meal even works as a healthy lunch in between classes. With this black bean and roasted corn salad, there’s no ingredient that is impossible to find! Simple Veganista has blessed us again.
11. Caprese Chicken Bowl
This Caprese chicken salad bowl by Sweet Pea and Saffron is honestly the best meal I have ever prepped in college. It is so tasty that I cannot live without it. It is also a very healthy college meal so I highly recommend it. The mozzarella is sometimes pricey if bought individually, so opt for some big packs. I recommend prepping the night before instead of days in advance so that it is fresh. I usually swap the quinoa with lettuce or green beans, but it is amazing in every way!
12. Cilantro Lime Shrimp Lettuce Wraps
Now I know seafood can be expensive for some college students, so don’t hesitate if you need to swap these cilantro lime shrimp lettuce wraps for ground beef or chicken. You can use the same seasoning for any protein and make it your own. Lettuce wraps are the easiest meal prep you can achieve and will be one of the freshest every time. The Recipe Critic shows us a very simple recipe that I am ready to make every day!
13. Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
I Wash, You Dry has a great instant pot recipe for crispy pork carnitas. This is a great college meal plan recipe if you can make big batches for days to a week at a time. Think Chipotle but without the added calories. Add this in a taco, burrito bowl or in a lettuce wrap, between buns or in a salad, and enjoy!
14. Chicken Parmesan Casserole
Whether you grew up eating casseroles or not, Thriving Home will make you appreciate their versatility and time-saving recipes. I love it because it is easy to add extra veggies or your favorite protein and it won’t ruin the dish. Try to have a fresh addition to it, whether a side salad or some toppings like avocado or cheese to upgrade it after reheating. Casseroles are the ultimate college meal prep staple!
15. Spinach and Beef Cannelloni
This method of stuffing pasta before cooking can take a bit of time, but it is so worth it at the end. RecipeTin Eats has an easy recipe for spinach and beef cannelloni that can be made for days of prep! Think lasagna, but much tastier when reheated. There are also one-pot lasagna alternatives if you are really short on time.
16. Cheesy Spinach Stuffed Shells
If you want something simpler, spinach and cheese stuffed shells can be frozen for days before cooking. I recommend making as many as you can and freezing them in portioned out containers. If you feel inspired to cook new things, try these stuffed shells with a different pasta sauce. Use Kristine’s Kitchen recipe for a fulfilling meal!
17. Shrimp Fried Rice
Shrimp fried rice is a popular takeout food for college students and Damn Delicious has such a delectable recipe, it would be rude not to include this in your preparations. This fried rice will still taste great when reheated, and adding more veggies can make it the ultimate meal. After having your personalized version, you won’t want to order out. Takeout who?
18. Vegetarian Chili Mac
If you are more interested in one-pot recipes, this vegetarian chili mac by Kristine’s Kitchen is a good one for any college student who preps their meals at the beginning of the day. It is a slow cooker recipe, but there are plenty of others that are done in a much shorter time if that’s your preference.
19. Make-Ahead Baked Taquitos
Every college student has stumbled into a 7/11 and ordered those taquitos without knowing what was in it. In order to avoid that mistake again, make your own! You will appreciate the flavor and versatility of these taquitos. I love this very effortless meal by The Oven Light and its freezer compatibility. Have these as a meal prep or a party snack with fresh guacamole and tomatoes.
20. Pesto Chicken Veggies
I love uncomplicated recipes and Tasty does an awesome job at helping college students recreate them. This recipe and cooking process is not even that difficult, so if you forget to meal prep, this can be a quick meal. This pesto chicken and veggie recipe is one I find myself constantly going back to, and even changing up the veggies when I want to prep different meals!
21. Honey Sriracha Crock Pot Chicken
Another excellent batch recipe, this time by Fit Foodie Finds, and it only needs five ingredients! Pair this honey sriracha chicken with rice, veggies, quinoa, or potatoes for dinner. This chicken is also a great lunch in a salad or a quick sandwich. The possibilities are endless!
22. Honey Garlic Chicken
This is another big batch recipe, but not as big as previous ones, for college students with fewer storage options, or who simply may not have as much time to prep meals. This one is by Diethood and you won’t be disappointed.
23. Ground Turkey Stir Fry
Another takeout replacement, because we shouldn’t buy takeout every day, is this great ground turkey stir fry. This is a great one-pan alternative as well and there’s nothing wrong with adding any extra veggies from other meal preps. With The Girl on Bloor’s recipe, we will be eating low carb, fresh veggies, and guilt-free all through college!
24. Broccoli Stuffed Chicken
Cheesy broccoli stuffed chicken. Simple as that. Healthy Fitness Meals have made it easy to enjoy and endlessly appetizing. This comfort food has been enhanced to be a healthier version, so you can eat this multiple times guilt-free. Have some extra veggies to keep it low-carb. Keep this recipe around for those days you forget to meal prep. It’s that easy!
25. Jerk Chicken and Gingered Broccoli
Half Baked Harvest has presented us with this very fresh and Caribbean-inspired meal. Make sure you have the spices needed for this one. Also, keep in mind that alteratiofns are not a bad thing! If you can’t find an ingredient, in this case edamame, opt for another veggie like snap peas or green beans. As long as your seasoning is consistent, it will be a fulfilling meal. You’ll be excited to try something new with this dish!
26. Chicken Noodle Soup
Classic chicken noodle soup for those days where you work too hard and need some rest. Make sure you stock up for flu season! Eating Well has an easy recipe with very few ingredients. You are going to love it because it is quick to prep. This effortless comfort food will become your favorite to recreate all year.
27. Black Bean Soup
Maybe you want a no-meat option of the soup. Tasty does a great job at creating recipes that use several plain and cheap ingredients to create a delightful soup. There are many veggie options for those that want an easier soup to freeze. Top with a fresh veggie like avocado or even enjoy with some tortilla chips.
28. Creamy Chicken Tortellini Soup
Or maybe you are like me and Chelsea’s Messy Apron and prefer creamy soups. This chicken tortellini soup is a little time-consuming, but so, so worth it in the end. You can make this as a big batch soup and save it for the winter months. Try it with some garlic bread if you have it!
29. Creamy Tomato Soup
Soups are uncomplicated and can be left in the freezer for days. Try this easy creamy tomato soup by The Recipe Rebel instead of opting for the can. It tastes fresher, is easy to prep, and won’t cost you more than a fast-food meal. Don’t forget the grilled cheese!
30. Five Spice Beef Stew
Lastly, a hearty stew can get you through the week, especially during the colder months. They are easy to make and can last for a while, so plan accordingly. The Cookie Rookie has a great, heavily seasoned recipe that is for sure to be the envy of your friends and roommates all through college. Add some toasted bread or sprinkle some cheese to improve the stew. Bon appetit!
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