Last month, I wrote an article describing five different instant noodle brands. You might be thinking, “I can do better than instant noodles” and you absolutely can. So this week we bring you the best of traditional starving-student meals with a twist. For AU students juggling between full-time work, family, and postsecondary, it’s a wonder we have any time for cooking. While the whole endeavor of elevating your meal takes an extra few minutes of your time, the outcome will not only kick up the flavor and satisfaction but help keep your nutritional standards high. Here are my recommendations for healthier dieting with traditionally instant options.
Gourmet Mac and Cheese
Grubbing on Kraft dinner over the long term will mean you’re deprived of many essential nutrients, namely vitamins. If you’ve convinced yourself to eat healthier but have less than fifteen minutes to cook, you can try adding your favorite diced veggies or canned tomatoes to the mix. A recent discovery of mine includes adding frozen meatballs and spinach to my mac and cheese. In lieu of cheese powder you can also purchase aged cheddar or less processed cheese to produce that gourmet touch.
Gourmet Instant Noodles
No matter how many times I’ve preached to myself and others to cut down on the salt and MSG (monosodium glutamate, a type of flavor enhancer) intake, sometimes, as a busy AU student, you can’t help but deploy your last resort—specially when midterm season rolls around. Instead, I’ve learned to embrace the convenience of Mr. Noodles with nutritious add-ons. Adding an egg, some frozen veggies, tofu, and mushrooms transforms your average instant noodles to a delicious custom rendition in less than five minutes.
Gourmet Baked Potatoes
Lately, I’ve discovered this new addition to my speed-cooking menu that is simple, filling, and gourmet. Potatoes are packed with nutrients themselves, but can be elevated in less than five minutes. While baking your potatoes, pre-heat some canned chilli in the microwave and set aside. I typically study or practice yoga while the potatoes bake and, within an hour, my potatoes are ready to eat. To add the finishing touches, cut your potato in half, add a spoonful of chilli, and top it off with a slice of processed cheese and your favorite herbs—you’re ready to feast!
If you’re rolling your eyes at the absurdity of putting the “meal” in oatmeal, you can rest assured that savory oatmeal is a legitimate recipe. One method is to use a can of Campbell’s soup. It helps enrich the flavor and adds substance to oatmeal. Other methods include adding fresh veggies, eggs, or shrimp to the mix. The options are endless and makes a healthy, quick, delicious meal all in one.
Waffles are delicious but difficult to make; they require the right equipment, the right texture of flour, and proper toppings. To cut down my workload, I consistently stock my freezer with Eggos or other pre-made waffles that are easily cooked in a toaster. If you’re not a fan of waffles, plain or whole-wheat bread is another option. To create easy toppings that are not reminiscent of breakfast, I like to add canned hummus, a fried egg, salsa, avocados and shredded cheese. There’s so much room for creativity with waffles (and toast) that the possibilities are endless.
What creative meal hacks do you have? Throw us a comment below.