Whatever academic projects are grabbing at your time and attention these days, you need nourishing, healthy, and consistent meals to keep your head clear and energy up so you can stay motivated to finish your writing projects, start or finish your dissertation, or get that book proposal off to the publisher.
Given the demands and financial pressures of academic life, remembering to make and pack your lunch doesn’t always feel like the easiest thing. Here are our suggestions for some quick and easy lunches you can take with you to campus—no culinary skills required!
Grilled veggie spread
A grilled veggie spread is easy to make in bulk, full of nutrients, and can be pulled together with grains or spreads for a quick lunch.
- Buy a head of cauliflower or broccoli, or some sweet potatoes.
- Chop coarsely (and skin if you prefer).
- Toss with olive oil or another oil of your choice, and season with salt, pepper, and any other spices like dried garlic, smoked paprika, or cayenne.
- Spread out on a pan or baking sheet and roast in your oven for 25–30 min at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (note: temperatures and cooking times will vary by oven).
Don’t have a full oven? Sauté the veggies in smaller batches in a pan on your stovetop.
For lunch, toss them over rice with a dollop of hummus; pasta with a little olive oil, cheese, or pesto; or in a wrap with some cheese and your favorite condiments.
A stir-fry is a quick and hearty dish you can make for dinner—and take the leftovers to campus with you the next day.
- Chop up chicken breast, firm tofu (follow directions on how to prep tofu, typically found on the package), or in a pinch, a can of tuna, and season with salt, pepper, and spices to your taste.
- Sauté on medium heat in a pan with olive oil for 5–10 min, until cooked through or browned.
- Set aside your protein, put don’t clean out the pan just yet.
- Rough chop some veggies like onions, peppers, or mushrooms, and toss them them in the pan you used to cook your protein. Remember, onions take the longest to cook so toss them in a little before your mushrooms and peppers. At this stage, you can even toss some leftover roast veggies if you want.
- Once your veggies are all cooked, toss your protein back in the pan and season with soy sauce, sesame oil, and play with unexpected ingredients like sugar, mustard, and hot sauce to deepen the flavors.
Make some rice or pasta, or take your stir-fry and wrap it up, and you’re good to go for lunch!
There are endless variations to the simple sandwich you can take with you to campus. Try low-sodium turkey, cheddar, lettuce, and tomato. Vegetarian? Slice some buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes with a little pesto. Vegan? Hummus, tomato, and baby spinach are a tasty and easy combination.
Good old PB&J
In a pinch, PB&J is not the worst option. It is cheap and quick to put together as well as easy to throw in your bag and go. Even when resorting to this option, try upgrading to some healthier choices, like whole grain or wheat bread rather than white, fruit preserves or jam rather than jelly. You can also switch up your nut butters for almond or cashew if you aren’t a big fan of peanut or just want a change of pace.
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