Busy college students often have to cook meals in a hurry. Unfortunately, poor meal planning means we’re reaching for cereal, defrosting frozen meals, or splurging on takeout.
However, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, eating healthy plant-based meals while living in dorms requires nothing more than a microwave and a few simple ingredients. This is the proof.
Vegan college life is easier than ever
According to a 2021 survey by College Pulse, about 14% of college students follow a plant-based diet (far more than American adults, of whom only about 4% adhere to a plant-based diet). vegan). In the last few years, this statistic may have increased even more, largely thanks to US universities improving their range of plant-based options.
In October 2022, major foodservice provider Aramark committed to increasing vegetarian options at 250 colleges nationwide to reduce its impact on the environment. And before that, another foodservice giant, Sodexo, pledged to increase plant-based meals to 42% of college menus by 2025.
This means choosing plant-based foods in university canteens will be easier than ever. But what if you’re cooking in your dorm? Well, that’s pretty simple. To show how easy going vegan in college can be, we’re highlighting five simple plant-based meals that college students (or anyone, really) can performed with limited time and equipment. The best part? They taste great, too.
For more advice on how to be vegetarian at university, you can find our helpful guide here.
5 easy vegan meals for college students
first Banana-cinnamon oatmeal with granola
Oatmeal is a simple, sweet, and healthy way to start the day. What’s even better for college students who have a lot of papers to write is that it can be prepared in advance. All you have to do is microwave half a cup of quick oats with a cup of water (or non-dairy milk) on high for two-minute intervals until the oats have absorbed most of the liquid. Be careful, though, because microwaving for more than two minutes at a time can cause the oatmeal to foam and spill out. Your best bet is to keep an eye on the oatmeal, stirring well after each microwave. Once cooked, mash half a ripe banana into the mixture, sprinkle cinnamon and granola as desired on top. If you want to prepare the night before, cover the heated mixture and refrigerate overnight. Reheat and add granola the next morning!
2 Loaded sweet potatoes
Scoring a perfectly cooked sweet potato is as easy as pressing a button. Use a fork to poke several holes in the sweet potato (to allow steam to escape during cooking), place the potato in a bowl and microwave on potato mode (or for about four minutes on high). Once the potatoes are ready, use a knife to split them in half, but be careful because they will be very hot. Next, fill the hole with half a cup of frozen mixed greens and microwave for another minute. Remove from the microwave and top with black beans and salsa for a Southwestern flavor.
3 Quinoa-eggplant roll
This might sound a little fancy for a college student, but don’t worry because it can be rolled or unrolled! To assemble, take a bag of pre-cooked quinoa and reheat according to the instructions on the back of the package. If your quinoa has not been pre-cooked, rinse half a cup of quinoa and place it in a microwave-safe bowl with a cup of water or vegetable broth. Cover and microwave for eight minutes, stopping halfway to stir. Remove (cover still attached) and set aside. Then, wash the eggplant and remove the stems. Microwave for about 10 minutes on high until the eggplant is tender (this may vary depending on the size of the eggplant). Remove and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, place half a cup of tomato sauce and half a cup of frozen mixed greens in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for about two minutes. While the vegetables are cooking, cut the eggplant into long, thin slices. Pour the quinoa, sauce and vegetables into one portion of the patty, rolling it flauta-style to keep it intact inside. You can use toothpicks to hold the rolls together. If the eggplant is too large for one serving, store it in the refrigerator for later.
4 Fried rice
Follow the same instructions as for quinoa, placing half a cup of rice and a cup of water (or vegetable broth) in a bowl. Microwave uncovered for about 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add half a cup of frozen stir-fried vegetables to the rice and microwave for another minute. Pour in the store-bought stir-fry sauce of your choice or make your own using a mixture of orange juice (two tablespoons), soy sauce (1 tablespoon), and sesame oil (1 tablespoon). Add peanuts for extra crunch.
5 Couscous green beans and vegetables
Although this dish takes a little longer than the previous dishes, it can be prepared in advance for an easy meal in a flash. Place half a cup of water (or vegetable broth) in the microwave on high until it begins to boil. Next, pour the liquid over half a cup of couscous (stir occasionally) and cover the bowl. Set aside. Then, drain, rinse and pat the green beans dry. Sprinkle the spice blend of your choice (we like paprika, salt, cumin or chili powder) into a plastic bag with half a cup of chickpeas and a tablespoon of olive oil. Seal and shake the bag, set aside to marinate. Once the couscous has absorbed most of the liquid, place half a cup of spinach (fresh or frozen) on top, add two tablespoons of water, and microwave everything for another two minutes. If desired, cut cherry tomatoes in half and add them to the dish along with the green beans.
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