Author Topic: Recipes for a busy college student  (Read 8841 times)

m8547

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Recipes for a busy college student
« on: November 07, 2012, 10:43:32 PM »
This is my first year as a grad student, so living in college is nothing new to me, but I'm suddenly a lot busier than in the past. This year all my classes are more work, and I'm working part time (which pays tuition and a good hourly rate), and I've committed a lot of time to a student organization. I'm busy but not completely overwhelmed, but some things have slipped, like eating well.

I live in an apartment with a kitchen, and I love to cook, and between me and all my roommates, the kitchen is fully stocked with pots, pans, utensils, gadgets, etc. Unfortunately I've been so busy this semester that I haven't had time to cook good food (as in nutritionally balanced and good tasting) nearly as much as I should. As a result, I've been eating way too much pasta (I can count at least 6 servings this week).

I do have some time to cook a few times a week, so I'm looking for recipes that I can make in large batches and keep in the fridge for a few days or the freezer for a couple weeks. In particular, I'm looking for things that are flavorful and can withstand freezing and microwaving. I like all kinds of food and I like to try things from different cultures. Any suggestions?

Edit: I didn't mention Mustachianism at all, but where that comes in is that I don't want to fall into the habit of buying meals (semi-fast food) all the time. I would rather eat more pasta than pay $7 for lunch and/or dinner every day, but I've gotten stuck in a pasta rut. Something has to change, and I don't want to end up like my co-workers who buy lunch almost every day (I'm happy to eat out for occasional treats and unexpected situations, of course).
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 10:50:34 PM by m8547 »

Jamesqf

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Re: Recipes for a busy college student
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2012, 11:07:06 PM »
Chinese (& Thai etc) food is your friend here.  Cook a good-sized pot of (brown) rice, which will keep in the refrigerator for a week or so.  Meat & veggies can be chopped ahead of time, and can be kept in containers in the fridge (meat in the freezer if it's for more than a day or two).  A bit of oil in the wok on high heat, add meat, stir-fry until browned, add veggies and a bit of sauce, stir-fry a minute or two more.  Meanwhile you've put a serving of rice on a plate and stuck it in the microwave for a minute.  Dump the contents of the wok on the rice, and enjoy.  (Or depending on appetite, eat half or a third of it now, put the remainder in the fridge to zap later.)

Also quick quesadillas:  for each, two tortillas, 2-3 slices of cheese (I use sharp cheddar and mozarella or asiago), a couple of green onions, 1/4 green pepper, 1/4 jalapeno pepper, and a bit of leftover chicken, turkey, beef, or whatever.  Break the cheese into smaller chunks and distribute around 1 tortilla.  Chop the veggies & meat, and do likewise.  (Chopping can be done beforehand.)  Put in a large pan over medium heat, cover, and heat for a minute or so until tortilla turns brown in spots (but not black), then flip and repeat on the other side.

N

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Re: Recipes for a busy college student
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2012, 11:21:36 PM »
I think the slow cooker can be your friend too. I have many busy days where I start dinner in the morning and its all ready when I get home.
soups work great, stews, meat...

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

I like that blog and the upside is they are all gluten free recipes (ie, dont rely on pasta)

carolinakaren

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Re: Recipes for a busy college student
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2012, 03:01:10 AM »
If you're really in a hurry do this:  on the weekend make enough whole grain (brown rice, quinoa, etc) to last through the week.  Chop whatever veggies you like or have in the fridge.  Put the rice in individual containers to take to work and top with veggies.  I add beans or tofu for protein, but you could add meat too.  Lastly, put in your favorite spices and a little olive oil, maybe lemon juice too, fresh herbs if you have them, and vary the spices in each container for variety.  All you need to do is microwave for 2-3 minutes and you have a nutricious and tasty meal.  The veggies will be slightly firm, like steamed vegetables.

I like to use onion for flavor and any combo of vegetables, olive oil, lemon juice, fresh basil, garlic powder, cayenne, black pepper, and paprika.  This is my favorite mix. You could change the type of oil, depending on what cultural style you are making (coconut for thai, sesame, etc.)  I've never been accused of having exceptional cooking skills, but it's quick and yummy.....healthy too!

Paul der Krake

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Re: Recipes for a busy college student
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2012, 10:07:57 AM »
Whatever vegetables you have + some ham + some cheese + olive oil + vinegar. No cooking whatsoever. Ridiculously good, healthy and cheap. One pack of ramen and an egg if you're still hungry. I can (and have) survived for months like this.

nofool

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Re: Recipes for a busy college student
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2012, 10:40:57 AM »
If you're really in a hurry do this:  on the weekend make enough whole grain (brown rice, quinoa, etc) to last through the week.  Chop whatever veggies you like or have in the fridge.  Put the rice in individual containers to take to work and top with veggies.  I add beans or tofu for protein, but you could add meat too.  Lastly, put in your favorite spices and a little olive oil, maybe lemon juice too, fresh herbs if you have them, and vary the spices in each container for variety.  All you need to do is microwave for 2-3 minutes and you have a nutricious and tasty meal.  The veggies will be slightly firm, like steamed vegetables.

I like to use onion for flavor and any combo of vegetables, olive oil, lemon juice, fresh basil, garlic powder, cayenne, black pepper, and paprika.  This is my favorite mix. You could change the type of oil, depending on what cultural style you are making (coconut for thai, sesame, etc.)  I've never been accused of having exceptional cooking skills, but it's quick and yummy.....healthy too!

This! Just spend one night preparing all your ingredients for the rest of the week. I always have quinoa on hand, some veggies, frozen seafood and lots of spices/herbs. Seafood cooks faster than meat, which is perfect when you don't have a lot of time. But you can totally use whatever meat you like, too. Also, experiment with some hearty stews! Great for winter, and all you need is some quinoa to eat it with to make it filling and nutritious. :)

Jamesqf

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Re: Recipes for a busy college student
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2012, 11:59:29 AM »
Also, if you are home for several hours (say on a weekend) consider a turkey: you put in the oven, roast it, fill the freezer with baggies to be used later, then put the bones in the slow cooker for soup stock.

NestEggChick (formerly PFgal)

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Re: Recipes for a busy college student
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2012, 04:07:58 PM »
Someone already mentioned my favorite crockpot site, http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/ but I wanted to second it.  I love every recipe here.  For starters, here's one I really enjoy: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2010/02/slow-cooker-chicken-with-apricots-and.html

As a time saver, I recently put 5 lbs of chicken breast into my crockpot and walked away for the day.  That night, I divided the chicken into individual portions and put it in the freezer.  Now when I don't have time to cook, I just pull out some chicken, cook it with garlic, onion, and whatever veggies I have on hand (frozen if I don't have fresh), throw on some spices, and add brown rice.  Easy and quick.

Good luck with your new schedule!


Russ

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Re: Recipes for a busy college student
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2012, 07:39:00 PM »
My favorite recipe is below. I call it "sh*t in a pan". It takes 20 minutes tops from start to finish, less for faster-cooking grains. Make as much or as little as you like; I make enough for dinner and the next day's lunch.

start a pot of grains (rice, quinoa, etc.)
start heating oil
chop vegetables and meat
put everything in the hot pan
wash cutting board and last night's pot and pan while everything cooks (5 minutes or so)
add seasoning <-- get creative here! sh*t in a pan is a good basis for all sorts of dishes: tex-mex, indian, takeout-style chinese...
both grains and sh*t in a pan should be done at the same time
eat
put leftovers in the fridge (I leave everything in the pots/pans I cooked them in, hence washing yesterday's dishes today)

casseroles are also pretty hands-off. Just throw whatever you have handy into a baking dish and leave it in the oven for an hour. They all freeze and thaw pretty well too.

I want to like the idea of chopping all your vegetables over the weekend, but it never seems to save me any time. The half hour I'd spend chopping spread out across the week is just condensed into a solid half hour once a week. Plus then there's the trouble of keeping five more food storage containers clean, and remembering to use it all up.

Last idea: could you and your roommates trade nights cooking? It seems like you have time some days, but not others. If you could cook for them on your less-busy days, maybe they'd return the favor on your busy days
« Last Edit: November 08, 2012, 07:42:25 PM by Russ »

c

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Re: Recipes for a busy college student
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2012, 09:29:49 AM »
I have started doing the batch cooking over the weekend thing. I make grains, roast a bunch of veg and make either beans or chickpeas. These form most meals I like to eat. My husband likes meat, so sometimes he will get chicken or some other meat to add to what we have.

I also started boiling a couple of eggs, so I can just grab them when I need a snack or easy meal.

It makes such a difference each week and when you're doing it all together, it takes no time at all.

Catbert

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Re: Recipes for a busy college student
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2012, 12:48:02 PM »
Another possibility: lentils!  Cheap ($1 or less a lb), quick cooking (as little as 20 minutes), long shelf life and easy. Can be eaten plain or jazzed up with whatever meat or veg you have.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2012, 12:51:15 PM by mary w »