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University food cheat codes

Quick and easy meals to keep you on the university grind
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Vegetables are a key part to a balanced diet. COURTESY OF JONATHAN BORBA via UNSPLASH
Vegetables are a key part to a balanced diet. COURTESY OF JONATHAN BORBA via UNSPLASH

As the fall semester continues, students are looking for quick and easy ways to meet their daily calorie requirement, whether it’s through a meal plan or a home-cooked meal. Meal prepping can be hard when you have a full course load and extracurriculars to think about. Here are some quick and easy meals to keep you on track this academic year. 

You know what they say: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. According to a study on breakfast consumption in adolescents and young adults, skipping breakfast can lead to dietary inadequacies, which can rarely be caught up on through other meals. Reflecting on my undergraduate life, skipping breakfast was common practice! Rolling out of bed and running to the bus seemed like a higher priority than taking the time to make myself a nutritious breakfast. 

For someone interested in some light meal prepping in the morning, overnight oats are a great and simple way for a grab-and-go lifestyle. With a base of oats and milk, overnight oats are easy to personalize to any taste preferences. They can be eaten cold from the fridge or zapped in the microwave. If you’re not a big fan of oats, egg sandwiches are a low cost, low effort alternative for a student who has a few extra minutes to spare. Toast, a fried egg, and some cheese is all you need for a satisfying,  protein-filled breakfast. 

Lunch is a challenge for students, especially those without a meal plan who spend all day on campus. Thinking about what will remain intact in your bag is enough for a student to decide to skip lunch all together. Wraps make simple lunches that are easy to eat discreetly in the back of a lecture hall or while walking to the library for an intense study session. Also a low-cost option, wraps are a great way for students to fit in fresh vegetables that are often neglected in the university-lifestyle diet. For students in need of a heartier lunch, Buddha bowls can be stuffed full of veggies, protein, and grains. While they tend to look aesthetic online, I simply throw leftover roasted vegetables and rice into a bowl and call it a day. If you are feeling fancy, add some salted nuts and dried fruits to step up your bowl. 

After coming home from a long day of classes or work, nobody wants to take an hour to prepare their dinner. Easy meal tips and tricks are constantly trending on TikTok, but instant ramen hacks have been the star of the show. Upgrading the fan-favourite instant ramen with a soft-boiled egg, mushroom, and green onions is an affordable way to step up your late-night dinner. 

For students with more energy, sheet-pan meals are a great way to have a satisfying meal after a long day. The simplest way to cook sheet-pan meals starts with choosing your favourite veggies and protein, drizzling with oil, seasoning to taste, and roasting in the oven until the protein is cooked through and the vegetables are soft. Another positive aspect of this meal: it makes great leftovers!

While we have all been in a grab-and-go situation, this year is the time for change. Whether you are a meal prepper or an on-the-go soul, there are options out there for you to have fulfilling and nutrient-filled meals that are low effort and low cost. Check out the quick and easy meal suggestions above to level up your foodie lifestyle.