Nov 20, 2020 | LIFE | By Kara Thomas | Illustration by Bibi Powers

This school year has looked nothing like the last: online classes, reservations for the library and the gym, a lack of sporting games to watch on campus … the list is endless. One thing that might have been overlooked by many, however, is the change in eating patterns of many college students.

Many Colorado College students opted to live off-campus this year, even if they are not seniors. This shift from the three-year on-campus requirement to essentially no on-campus living requirements for any students has dramatically altered many students’ eating patterns.

Previously, first-years and sophomores had limited on-campus dining options, which included Rastall, Benji’s, The Preserve, or overpriced frozen and canned meals from the C Store. This year, however, with many underclassmen living off-campus, students have been left to their own devices for cooking.

Even for those students who are still living on-campus, the meal options are extremely limited, and students may end up cooking their own meals in the shared kitchens on occasion.

Whether you are living on-campus, off-campus, at home, or elsewhere, I personally have found it hard to motivate myself to do much these days, least of all cook healthy meals for myself. It’s easy to fall into the frozen-meal cycle. Yet those frozen meals tend to be nutritionally-lacking, calorie-dense foods that leave you feeling unsatisfied after eating.

I’ve come across a few easy, cheap, tasty, and nutritious meals that are college-friendly for other students who may also be struggling to motivate themselves to cook these days. Enjoy!

Vegetable Egg Rolls

  • 12 egg roll wrappers
  • 1 bag coleslaw mix
  • 1 quart canola oil, for frying
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp salt

Add coleslaw mix to a large pan with a dash of olive oil and salt, and cook over medium heat, about five minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl and mix in the garlic — this will be the egg roll filling. Lay out the egg roll wrappers with the corners facing you and a small bowl of water. Distribute the egg roll filling among the wrappers, scooping it onto the bottom third of each wrapper. Taking one wrapper at a time, use a finger to brush along its four edges with water. Fold up a corner over the filling, then the sides, and then roll it up. Dab the last fold with more water to seal. Repeat for all other wrappers. Add canola oil to a large pot until the oil is about one inch deep. Turn the burner to medium heat. When the oil temperature reaches 350oF, add the egg rolls in batches. Fry until golden brown, about three minutes. Transfer to a paper towel to drain. Serve with soy sauce.

Chicken or Tofu Caesar Salad

  • 1 bunch kale
  • Caesar dressing (Trader Joe’s has a great Vegan Caesar dressing)
  • Shredded parmesan cheese (dairy-free, if desired)
  • Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Pre-cooked sliced chicken breast, or tofu

If your kale is not pre-washed, rinse it quickly under lukewarm water. Pat dry with a paper towel. Chop kale, then place in a bowl and toss with olive oil. If using tofu, slice two long pieces and place them between two paper towels. Press the tofu to get all the extra moisture out. Slice the tofu into cubes, then toss the tofu (or chicken slices), cheese, tomatoes, and dressing in the bowl of kale. Toss with black pepper, and top with croutons*, if desired.

*PRO TIP: You can make your own croutons by toasting a few slices of bread in the oven until they are almost burnt, then crunching them up into small pieces.

Italian Sausage and Peppers

  • 1 package Italian Sausage
  • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • ½ tsp each salt, oregano, basil, black pepper, and red pepper flakes

Directions: Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add sausages and cook until browned. Remove sausages from pan and set aside (they do not need to be fully cooked at this point). Add onions and peppers to the pan, and cook until softened. Add in the garlic and cook for one minute. Slice sausages into one-inch pieces, then return the cut sausages to the pan with all the other ingredients. Cook for five to 10 minutes, until the sausages are cooked through and the sauce is thickened. Serve on fresh buns if desired. Serves four. Please shoot me an email at if you have any food/cooking related questions — I’d be happy to answer them! Additionally, if you have any ideas for future recipes or cooking tips, feel free to send them my way as well.

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