Eating well as a young adult is hard, but finding affordable foods that are simple and healthy to cook shouldn't be! If you're stuck at home right now and are lucky to have some time to spare, here are seven recipes that you should to learn how to cook during quarantine:

1) The Perfect Fried Egg

Eggs are a tasty and affordable source of protein and healthy fats. If you're tired of boiled eggs or those weird rubbery "scrambled eggs" from your dining hall, try to find your ideal fried egg. Some people like them thoroughly cooked, while others, like me, like them runny. You can add fried eggs to sandwiches, burgers, salads, and of course, breakfast. It may take some trial and error depending on your own pans and stovetop, but this recipe is a MUST for any adult to know how to cook. Why not learn now?

My favorite way to fry: butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, salt and pepper, with a runny yolk that I can eat with toast or fried rice (see #7).

egg, egg yolk, fried egg, omelet, chicken, yolk
Msu Spoon

2) Pasta Al-dente

First things first - please don't throw your pasta against the wall to see if it's cooked. Instead, take a large pot, fill it at least halfway with water, and add a bunch of salt (don't be shy, put some more). Seriously, you want your water to taste salty so that your noodles don't taste super bland. Once the water is at a rapid boil, gently drop in your noodles and start your timer. You should use the cooking time recommended on the box as a rough estimate, give or take a few minutes. It doesn't hurt to taste a noodle when time is almost up, just to make sure it isn't overcooked. For al-dente pasta, it's better to err on the side of undercooked, since you can always cook it longer in your sauce later. Turn off the heat and drain your pasta, but save about 1/4-1/2 a cup of the water for the sauce. DO NOT WASH YOUR PASTA!! Seriously! It will take off all of the starch that helps the sauce stick to the noodles. Add your sauce to the pot on medium heat, and once it's heated through, toss in your pasta, adding some pasta water if the sauce is too thick. For ideal al-dente, your pasta should not be mushy - it should have some "bite" to it (since al-dente is Italian for "to the tooth").

My favorite way to enjoy al-dente pasta: "simple" with olive oil, parmesan, and salt and pepper, or "fancy" with jarred tomato sauce, some added veggies like spinach, a splash of heavy cream, and topped with grilled chicken.

Izzy Tice

3) Grilled Cheese

I get that you're probably a broke college kid like me, but I promise you that you can afford to use ingredients with better taste and quality than processed "singles" and generic white bread (I mean, there is something to be said for these every once in a while, but it can't hurt to upgrade). I recommend using some shredded cheese, since it melts quickly and often already comes in blends like Italian four-cheese. For bread, opt for something with structure, like sourdough or an Italian loaf. I  usually get day-old bread from my grocery bakery for half-off, which often makes it cheaper than the stuff on the shelves! Also, I typically don't even finish one of those giant loaves of white bread before it goes bad, so it's a better investment for me to buy smaller loaves of higher-quality bread for the same price or less. I mean, if you feel like you have all the time in the world right now, you can even try making your own loaf. For more techniques on how to perfect this basic recipe, check out this recipe.

My ideal g.c. sandwich: this Cheddar and Green Apple Grilled Cheese (trust me).

bread, toast, sweet, grilled cheese sandwich, pastry, cake, honey, butter
Christin Urso

4) Coffee

Just because quarantine has kept you home from college doesn't mean your coffee addiction has gone anywhere. Since I usually study at coffee shops when I'm on campus, I feel incomplete doing my online classes without some form of my favorite drink. I've definitely hopped onto the Dalgona Coffee bandwagon, and if you like iced coffee, you should too! Take this downtime to figure out the strength of the coffee you like, what milk or cream (if any) you like, how much sugar you like, and most importantly, how to add flavored syrups to your coffee that taste just like Starbucks'. Making coffee at home is a lot more cost-effective than that $5 latte you probably got every morning, and you customize it just how you like. If you have a coffee machine or even a Keurig, you're already halfway there, but if you don't, try using a French press, instant coffee, or even better, overnight cold brew. 

My go-to coffee almost ever morning: Dalgona Iced Coffee, made with instant espresso or coffee, whisked with whipping cream for extra flavor, with vanilla extract and cinnamon. I pour it over ice with almond milk, but other milks work fine too.

Image from WikiCommons

Image from WikiCommons

5) Salad

Ew. I know. But there are times where a giant salad just hits different, especially after eating junk food at college for [half] a semester. First off, don't just throw together some iceberg lettuce and bottled ranch and complain that it is sad and boring. It doesn't have to be! If you can, instead, find a mix of different greens, which will provide a better textural experience. Next, add some fresh or roasted veggies; you can't really go wrong here, so pile them up. Some nuts can add healthy fats, and as far as protein goes, you can use anything ranging from steak to chicken to beans to tofu! Just don't be shy with seasonings because they will tie together the whole salad. Lastly, top it off with some croutons if you like, and one of these homemade salad dressings, which are healthier and taste much more fresh than the bottled stuff.

My favorite salad: Kale, spinach, romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, sweet bell peppers, olives, freshly grated parmesan cheese, croutons, breaded chicken tenders, salt and pepper, and olive oil

salad, vegetable, pepper, lettuce
Becky Hughes

6) Roasted Vegetables

Look, you need to eat vegetables. It doesn't matter if you're 5 or 25, they're super healthy, and more, they are DELICIOUS. If you're averse to most veggies, try to learn something basic like these Pan-Roasted Garlic Parmesan Potatoes with Bacon, and if you love veggies or you just want to branch out, try these Honey Sriracha Brussels Sprouts. The great thing with roasted vegetable recipes is that you can always swap ingredients and use whichever vegetables you like the most, just adjust for cook time. There are so many different spices and herbs you can add that will help enhance the vegetables' own flavors, so experiment and see which ones you like best. My own college-friendly hack is buying most of my seasonings at the dollar store, since they're only $1 and there is usually a pretty wide variety. Make your mom happy and eat your veggies - you might find that you actually like them.

My favorite vegetables to roast: brussels sprouts, broccoli, and potatoes, with olive oil, sea salt, and ground thyme, dried rosemary, and garlic

vegetable, pepper, onion, carrot, broccoli, tomato, stir-fry
Christin Urso

7) Fried Rice

Spending money on take-out every week adds up, and making fried rice is actually one of most affordable meals to make, especially if you're a college kid. Pretty much every Asian country has its own spin on fried rice, and you can always add or take away the ingredients you want. The best thing about fried rice is how many vegetables you can add without even realizing it, and it's a yummy way to get in your daily protein, especially with ingredients eggs, chicken, shrimp, or tofu. Just one key tip I learned from my grandfather - cook the rice the night before so that it is dry by the time you fry it. Here's one recipe for Chinese fried rice, and another for a low-carb option for those looking for healthier alternatives to rice.

My favorite fried rice: I grew up eating Filipino Sinangag for breakfast, which I love because of the garlic, and I usually eat it with a fried egg (see #1) and some pan-fried spam, tocino, longanisa! 

Izzy Tice

Stay safe and healthy, and flaunt those new cooking skills to your parents or your friends (from a safe distance)!