This month, our gluten free college blogger Julie Bourne shares a few tips for fellow college students -- and anyone with limited time or funds -- about how to prepare quick and healthy gluten free meals with a handful of versatile ingredients.
As I creep closer to my final year of college (where did the time go?!), I find myself experiencing more adult-like realities along the lines of paying rent, commuting on an everyday basis, socializing at friends’ houses rather than dorm rooms, and being forced to go to grocery store nearly three times a week. The convenience of being able to trudge downstairs to the dorm dining hall in my pajamas for every meal is now a memory of the past, and I have been getting used to packing lunches and attempting to cook healthy yet tasty dinners, along with making a detailed game plan before going food shopping to save time and money.
In order to reduce the stress that can come with being increasingly responsible for feeding oneself, it can be helpful to stick to a general routine that can still be alterable to avoid monotony. For example, a staple food that I always have in the fridge is a big bag of mixed greens. Put a good handful of this in a plastic container and top it off with whatever is in your fridge (cheese, veggies, fruits, etc) and -- voila! -- you have a hearty salad ready to take on a full day of classes. While sandwiches are an obvious option for a packed lunch, they can also open up the possibility of variety. Avoid the standard PB&J by starting with a high protein spread like hummus or organic spreadable cheese, pile on some lean meat like Applegate turkey breast, and top it off with a less conventional veggie such as roasted peppers or thinly sliced sweet potato. This is something that you could easily prepare the night ahead, using dinner leftovers. When in doubt, always have fruits and vegetables like apples, baby carrots, or tangerines handy that are ready to grab and go when you’re in a hurry.
After a full day of classes, the last thing I feel like doing is spending hours cooking dinner. To avoid spending more than 30 minutes making myself a healthy and filling meal, I plan out a few basic meals while I am grocery shopping. For example, foods like corn tortillas, pasta, or meats can be great base ingredients to build on with other foods. Recently, I have gotten into the habit of picking up easily cooked meat like shrimp that I can use for bulking up a variety of dishes such as noodles, salads, or stir-fry. Variety is easy when you keep plenty of vegetables, beans, spices, and fruits on hand to change up basic meal options.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with picking up the occasional dinner at your local Chipotle or P.F Changs, but for the sake of saving my money (and having healthier options), I have gotten into the habit of purchasing and making my own food the vast majority of the time. As students, we run on a generally busy schedule that can make food preparation just seem like one big extra chore. However, with a bit of planning and resourcefulness, healthy meals can be made quickly and, at the same time, be conducive to the on-the-run lifestyle of a college student.
In order not to miss any of Julie's future Blog posts -- and other helpful posts on gluten free dining and travel -- be sure to enter your email address at the top of the left column of this page. You'll then receive an email each time a new post is published. You can also read all of Julie's past posts on this Gluten Free Travel Blog and follow her on her own Campus Celiac blog.