Every day busy college students burdened with homework and stress default to microwavable and instant meals. When short on time and money, this convenience is perfectly understandable and valid. Yet, many don’t realize there are homemade alternatives to instant Ramen or Mac and Cheese. Not only can these meals be healthier, but more satisfying as well! In trying these recipes, students might even awaken a new love for cooking. Here are four healthy, quick and rewarding "homemade alternatives" to some classic college meals.

"Homemade Alternative" 1: Mac and Cheese



1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, 8 minutes. Drain

2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat; stir in flour, salt, and pepper until smooth, about 5 minutes. Slowly pour milk into butter-flour mixture while continuously stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbling, about 5 minutes. Add Cheddar cheese to milk mixture and stir until cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes.

3.  Fold macaroni into cheese sauce until coated

"Homemade Alternative" 2: Chicken Nuggets

All of the ingredients can be found here


1. First, make the breading assembly line: In one bowl, stir together the flour, seasoned salt, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and water. In a third bowl, add the breadcrumbs. Bread a few pieces of chicken at a time by dredging them with flour, then quickly dunking them in the egg mixture, then rolling them in the breadcrumbs until they're coated. Shake off the excess and place them on a plate or pan as you bread the rest.

2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 1/2 to 2 inches of vegetable oil over medium-low to medium heat. You want it to be hot enough to sizzle gently when you add the chicken, but not so hot that it browns too quickly.

3. Carefully drop in 8 to 10 pieces of chicken and use metal tongs to spread them out to give them room. Let them fry on the first side for a minute or two, then carefully turn them over to brown on the other side. The chicken should cook until the breadcrumbs are deep golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes total; if the chicken pieces are small, this should be enough time for the chicken to cook through. 

4. Remove the chicken to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with the rest of the chicken until it's all fried. Serve warm with ketchup and/or mustard!

"Homemade Alternative" 3: Homemade Ramen 

The ingredients can be found here


1. Place eggs in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Cover eggs with a tight-fitting lid and remove from heat; set aside for 8-10 minutes. Drain well and let cool before peeling and halving.

2. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.

3. Whisk in chicken broth, mushrooms, soy sauce and 3 cups water.

4. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until mushrooms have softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in Yaki-Soba until loosened and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes.

5. Stir in spinach, Narutomaki, carrot and chives until the spinach begins to wilt, about 2 minutes.

6. Serve immediately, garnish with eggs. 

"Homemade Alternative" 4. Vegetable Quesadillas

Ingredients can be found here


1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil, bell peppers, black beans, corn, onion, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the bell peppers and onions of softened. Turn off heat and stir in the cilantro.

2. In a clean skillet over medium heat, add a flour tortilla. Top with cheese, cooked veggies mixture, and another layer of cheese. Place another tortilla on top and cook, flipping once, until golden on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Slice and Serve with sour-cream cilantro sauce.

3. To make the sour-cream cilantro sauce, whisk all the ingredients in a medium bowl until combined.