Need quick, cheap, nutritious food

I'm a second year uni student and I'm really struggling with the workload at the moment. As a result I'm finding it hard to find time to eat so I have unintentionally lost a few pounds this term, it's not much but it's enough to make my jeans look saggy.

I rarely have time for breakfast in the morning and if I do it's usually an English muffin as I walk out the door. I usually make a sandwich for lunch but sometimes I don't have time so I just go without. One day I didn't have time for breakfast or lunch. I try to make my own dinners but it takes so much time to chop and cook and eat and wash up. I eat a lot yogurt when I'm at home. I don't eat meat.

I don't really want to resort to ready meals because they're expensive. If anyone has any efficient ways I could get some calories and nutrition in my body that would be helpful, thank you.

Replies

  • kimny72
    kimny72 Posts: 16,027 Member
    I lived off store brand soups, veggie pizza, PB&J, tuna on a bagel, apples, bananas, and cereal with milk when I was away at school. It wasn't perfect but I survived. I'm sure others will give you more useful ideas, but in all seriousness undereating isn't healthy either. Better to have some "healthy" stuff and some stuff that is just to get calories into you than to underfuel your body! Good luck :)
  • Sp1tfire
    Sp1tfire Posts: 1,120 Member
    eggs!
  • coueswhitetail
    coueswhitetail Posts: 323 Member
    Corn tortillas and canned fat free refried beans....you microwave them to make a bean burrito....top with some salsa....add onions and chopped peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, cumin, if you like. Even better is to dry toast the tortillas in a cast iron skillet...adds extra flavor

    Or take a can of black beans, rinse them, out in big bowl. Add bag of frozen corn, add one chopped onion, add cilantro, add chopped peppers,.....mix it up, add cumin....it's a great black bean salad that is healthy and lasts awhile in fridge....
  • kommodevaran
    kommodevaran Posts: 17,890 Member
    You don't have time? You MAKE time for meals. Eat bigger portions of what you're aready eating. Use more frozen precut vegetables. Eat more grains, nuts, oil, fresh fruit, add milk, dried fruit.
  • Rosemary7391
    Rosemary7391 Posts: 232 Member
    As a go to maybe get some fruit and nut mix... keep it in your bag in case you forget lunch. Frozen vegetables are a great time saver. Do you have housemates? When I did we took it in turns to cook, so I only cooked twice a week but had a hot dinner every night. It doesn't take much longer to cook for 4 than for 1, so if you don't have housemates then you can cook extra and save the leftovers.

    But seriously, what kommodevaran said. You need to eat. I can almost guarantee that making time to eat proper food will improve your studying. Your brain needs fuel to run properly on. If you don't eat you'll find yourself getting ill more frequently, you'll have less energy and you won't be able to learn as effectively. Taking 10 minutes to eat a sandwich at lunch will improve your concentration at afternoon lectures. I'm doing a PhD at the moment, plus have other responsibilities. I don't have time not to eat properly and exercise! I get some of my best ideas out walking, running or chopping veg...
  • fruoshea
    fruoshea Posts: 46 Member
    Lentil chillis! Not quick, but I usually make like 6-8 servings, so then you only have to cook once and have enough for several days. And dried lentils are usually cheap. All you need other than that is some tinned tomatoes, stock, spices and maybe some beans or sweet potatoes. So good :smile:
  • RodaRose
    RodaRose Posts: 9,574 Member
    Beans and rice. Tacos.
    Lentil soup. Protein powder.
  • Yoyoghurt
    Yoyoghurt Posts: 52 Member
    Eggs, frozen veg, baked beans, wholemeal bread, peanut butter, milk, plain yoghurt, tomatoes, bananas, brown rice, packet of tofu, tinned oily fish (if you eat it) cheese slices, broccoli, carrots, capsicum, apples, oranges, oatmeal, potatoes.
    Nuts and seeds, dried fruit to take for morning or afternoon tea (trail mix).
    Very minimal prep items that will last a while and can be used in different combinations. If you cook rice make double and use that the next day.
    e.g. Cheese melt on toast with capsicum or tomato. Fish on rice with veg. Lunch: pack peanut butter sandwich with apple. Breakfast: beans on toast with glass of milk. Dinner: Potatoes with microwaved frozen veg and tofu. Heat tofu in frypan to brown it a bit.
    Or you can go down the cooking in quantity and freezing path. You are then in effect making your own ready meals (much cheaper) with control over the quantities and quality of the ingredients.
    @Rosemary7391 is right. Your brain needs food!
  • Rosemary7391
    Rosemary7391 Posts: 232 Member
    Another idea - a good morning timesaver is overnight oats. I do 30g oats to 90ml milk, throw in a little of your favourite sweetener, leave in the fridge overnight then just add dried fruit and scoff in the morning. I think you can do it with yoghurt too - google will give you the right proportions. If I'm going for a run I mix some peanut butter in the night before; very tasty and only takes a couple of minutes preparation the night before!
  • jefftamm773
    jefftamm773 Posts: 3 Member
    Protein powder and protein drinks especially for breakfast!
  • Lounmoun
    Lounmoun Posts: 8,427 Member
    Prepared meals come frozen or canned. Buy ready to eat food from a restaurant or deli. Some things are cheaper than others. Soup might be a good choice.
    Fruit or vegetables- raw or canned
    Yogurt
    Cottage cheese
    Sandwiches or wraps take minutes to make. You choice of bread product. Hummus, egg, avocado, vegetables, nut butters, fruit, cheese are some non-meat filling options.
    Eggs are quick cooking.
    Pasta is quick cooking.
    Instant oatmeal.
    Eat leftovers. Cook a large amount of something and eat it all week.
    Put food in a slow cooker.
    Put food in the oven to cook while you do something else. It takes seconds to put a plain chicken breast or a potato into the oven. You don't have to cook fancy food.
  • Lean59man
    Lean59man Posts: 714 Member
    Cheap
    Quick
    Nutritious

    Select any two of the above but not three. :)
  • COGypsy
    COGypsy Posts: 866 Member
    I only cook once a week. I make a casserole or something in the slow cooker for lunches and/or dinner. I'll bake a batch of chicken thighs or boil some eggs for quick food. Depending on what else I made, I may also make up some breakfast burritos or muffin sandwiches too. Then I buy vegetables as completely prepped as possible (I like to buy fresh veggies from the grocery's salad bar! No chopping!) and make some kind of salad or vegetable dish and some snack bags of cut veggies to pair with hummus or salsa for afternoon snacks. If I run out of prepped food or just get tired of whatever I made, I might make eggs and toast in a pinch. I spend about an hour shopping and 2 hours or so for kitchen time and am set for the week. It's pretty manageable for the most part.
  • peaceout_aly
    peaceout_aly Posts: 2,018 Member
    czmiles926 wrote: »
    I'm a second year uni student and I'm really struggling with the workload at the moment. As a result I'm finding it hard to find time to eat so I have unintentionally lost a few pounds this term, it's not much but it's enough to make my jeans look saggy.

    I rarely have time for breakfast in the morning and if I do it's usually an English muffin as I walk out the door. I usually make a sandwich for lunch but sometimes I don't have time so I just go without. One day I didn't have time for breakfast or lunch. I try to make my own dinners but it takes so much time to chop and cook and eat and wash up. I eat a lot yogurt when I'm at home. I don't eat meat.

    I don't really want to resort to ready meals because they're expensive. If anyone has any efficient ways I could get some calories and nutrition in my body that would be helpful, thank you.

    I'd suggest setting one day aside to prep food for the week. I like to get a ready made rotisserie chicken and shred it at the beginning of the week and hard boil some eggs... I have that plus cottage cheese for lunch a lot of days. Another good idea is cook a pound of ground turkey and a container of egg whites, that plus spinach makes for a great lunch or dinner... top with hummus, roasted red peppers, or even go "fajita style" with salsa and taco cheese. Greek yogurt is a good cheap option for breakfast on-the-go, or invest in a Vitamin Shoppe reward card and buy bulk in a protein bar that you like. As for snacks, pre-bag some carrots and celery and bring PB or Walden Farms ranch dressing to dip.

    As someone else said, you can only pick one of the three (@Lean59man...great point!!) because cheap and nutritious is not quick, quick and cheap is not nutritious. Invest a little bit of time and you'll have a cheap, nutritious meal plan that is quick (because you prepped it all to be grab-and-go).

    I used to have a 3-hour commute to a full-time job while maintaining a home, going to school and hitting the gym for 2-3 hours x day. I know how difficult it can be, but that one-hour you set aside for meal prep can make your entire routine way easier.
  • Ssg25
    Ssg25 Posts: 21 Member
    I'm a student as well, I eat oats, eggs, Greek yogurt, frozen vegetables, apples & bananas, peanut/almond butter, sweet potatoes, canned tuna, whole grain crackers, precooked frozen chicken, canned soup. I'm busy too but I always find time to eat
  • Lounmoun
    Lounmoun Posts: 8,427 Member
    Busy mom trick is cooking or prepping food in advance and using leftovers.
    One day a week cook a big pot of soup or a chicken or lasagna... whatever you don't mind having in future. It does not really take more time to cook dish that serves 6-8 vs 2-3. Divide the large dish into individual portions.
    Cut up vegetables one day a week or buy frozen or canned vegetables that require no prepping.
    Cooked meat or beans can be quickly added to salads, soups, casseroles, sandwiches.
    Pack your lunch from dinner leftovers as you put them away.

    A big pot of soup is a good way to eat easy, cheap and nutritious. It reheats and freezes well.
    Bean and cheese burritos are quick to make. You can make a bunch at once and freeze them.
    A pot of hard boiled eggs takes less than 20 minutes to heat the water to boiling and cook.
    An apple or banana takes pretty much zero time to prepare.
    A sandwich takes 5 minutes or less to make.

    Look up freezer cooking or once a month cooking or meal prepping.
    Share the cost and work of cooking with friends. Once a week make cooking a social activity.