According to USDA standards, adults 19 to 30 years old should be having around 2 1/2 - 3 cups of vegetables each day. The vitamins and nutrients found in veggies are essential for overall health, disease prevention, and lowering one's blood pressure, but most college students aren’t consuming nearly as many vegetables they should. In fact, a majority of college students struggle to fit just one serving of vegetables per day.

I plead guilty to falling into this majority. Of course I care about my health, but I am also either super busy or super lazy most of the time. Until I started college, I had always been good about getting my daily recommended servings. Then, a microwave and mini fridge under my bed became my kitchen, and my cooking habits changed a bit.

vegetable, salad, lettuce, cabbage
Samantha Fehd

Thankfully, the microwave is useful for a number of tasks other than popping bagged popcorn. I quickly found a way to make healthy, flavorful veggie dishes in under five minutes with no dishes required. In short, there are only two steps: microwave and mix.

1. Microwave and season

broccoli, sushi, rice
Samantha Fehd

Microwave an instant, microwaveable bag of frozen vegetables according to instructions. You can buy these in the freezer section at almost any grocery store, and they typically cost $2-4 depending on the brand. Choose whatever mix of veggies you like. Note that the heating time will vary according to type and size (around 3-6 minutes).

Cut the top of the bag open, and pick whatever combination of seasonings and flavors you wish to add. I usually reach for soy sauce and Sriracha, but you could also add sauces or cheese.

2. Mix and serve

Samantha Fehd

Then, shake it all up right inside the bag. If the vegetables seem pretty soft, however, gently knead the bag with the flavoring inside as to not break up the vegetables.

Throw in your pre-cooked protein and/or noodles of choice with the vegetables and flavorings for a balanced, one-bag dish. Serve right away or keep it in the bag for a healthy meal on-the-go.

Please note that I am not trying to pass off microwave veggies as a hack. It's about knowing your resources—using the bag for cooking, mixing, and serving. However, I think it’s important to remind ourselves that there are affordable and efficient ways like this one to keep a well-balanced diet in college. Maybe we can keep this in mind when we feel like instant noodles are our only option.