Protein is key to a healthy diet to stave off hunger and help muscle growth. But being a vegetarian in college can really limit access to adequate, healthy, good protein options, especially if you’re ballin’ on a budget. For those of who prioritize healthful eating (or know you should), here is a list of 5 ways to get enough protein as a vegetarian in college. From one vegetarian to you, these are tried and true, cheap and easy ways to get your daily protein fix.

1. Eggs

dairy product, sweet, deviled eggs, egg, cream, milk
Caroline Alexander

Eggs are one of the purest natural proteins there are. If you’re living in a dorm, odds are there’s a kitchen downstairs where all you need is a pan and a fork to whip up a quick scramble. If that’s too much of a hassle, the hard-boiled egg is a classic for a reason. These can be made on the stovetop, or even with a hot water boiler in the room. Still too much? Here are a few more ways to chef up eggs in your dorm. Throw a little salt and pepper on those babies and you’ve got yourself a nice 6 grams of protein on the go.

#Spoontip: add an egg to your ramen while you’re steaming it. It cooks with the hot water and adds a tasty, wholesome boost to your otherwise deliciously unhealthy dinner. 

2. Greek Yogurt

Davida Halev

Greek yogurt is my go-to. Not only is it high in protein, but if you opt for the 0% or 2% options, it's low in fat as well, and it doesn't hurt that it has a deliciously creamy texture. Add a dollop to your oatmeal, make an easy at-home yogurt bowl by adding fruit and/or nuts and berries and granola, or if you’re in a time crunch, on-the-go yogurt cups are the perfect option to pack in 12 grams of protein in an only 120 calorie cup. I prefer the Chobani and Fage 0% greek yogurts, as they use all natural ingredients and don’t have the fake sugar-y taste other yogurts do. You can buy these cups for around one dollar each, or even less if you buy in bulk. Sign me up!

3. Almonds

walnut, apricot pits, almond, meat, nut
Kendra Valkema

Almonds are a vegetarian’s best friend. They’re delicious, transportable, and best of all, nutritious. One serving of almonds (an ounce, or around 23 almonds) delivers 6 grams of protein and lots of healthy fats. Be careful with almonds, the fat content is high (though they are healthy Omega-3 fats), hence the calorie count is as well. A handful of almonds is generally a good guideline for portion size. Nuts are a superior alternative to granola or protein bars, which often hide processed and excess sugars, carbs, and fats. Glam up your almond snack with some craisins, peanuts, and other yummies and you have yourself a tasty, filling trail mix packed with protein on the go. 

4. Beans 

Davida Halev

Beans come in a variety of kinds, from kidney, black to garbanzo. Beans are a low-fat, high protein, all natural food that are a cheap and easy addition to any meal. In your dining hall or at home, add garbanzo beans to your salad, add some black beans to rice and corn, or heat up some frozen edamame. Above is a salad I made at my (subpar) dining hall, packed with three different proteins: garbanzo, black and edamame beans.

5. Quinoa

couscous, quinoa, groats, millet, corn, buckwheat, porridge, cereal, wheat
Christin Urso

Quinoa is a superfood for a reason. It's gluten-free, high in fiber, and contains all nine essential amino acids– this means it’s a complete protein. In just one cup of quinoa, there are eight grams of protein, five grams of fiber, and it's packed with important vitamins and minerals. Look for quinoa when you’re ordering out at a restaurant or in your dining hall; it works as a great base for tofu, veggies, or eggs, and as a tasty add-on to your salad. If you’re looking to make quinoa at home (an easy 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water ratio), here are some tasty, creative vegetarian quinoa recipes. 

Being a vegetarian in college (especially without a kitchen) can make it hard to get enough protein. Protein is essential to our diets and should be a priority in every meal. Now, with these cheap and easy ideas, there are no excuses– go out and get those gains.