20-Minute Meals For Busy College Students

by Alekhya Vittalam

Adulting in the 21st century comes with a lot of responsibilities. While living in an apartment has its perks, balancing studies with house chores can sometimes feel like a burden. Due to time constraints, some of us may resort to microwaveable meals or food delivery. While they are convenient and deceptively delicious, it is important to manage our time effectively between work and health. To help with that, here are five simple recipes that are not only packed full of nutrients but can also be served up within minutes!

Quinoa Mexican Salad

Quinoa is one of the most nutritious health products on the market. Rich in fiber and protein, it is one of the few plant-based sources that contains all nine essential amino acids. Our bodies need 20 amino acids and nine of them cannot be produced by the body. These nine amino acids are important because they are involved with processes such as tissue growth, energy production, immune function, and nutrient absorption. [1] Quinoa can also speed up metabolism and increase satiety due to the amount of fiber present in this gluten-free superfood. [2]

Source: Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Source: Chelsea’s Messy Apron


  • 1 cup quinoa, boiled

  • 2 tbsp sweet corn

  • 2 tbsp finely chopped onion

  • 1 chili, finely chopped

  • ½ avocado, diced

  • ½ cup kidney beans, boiled

  • Salt as per taste


  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • ¼ ttsp black pepper

  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  • Nuts or seeds of your choice

Mix all ingredients for the salad in a large bowl and salt as per taste. In a smaller bowl, add the dressing ingredients and mix well. When ready to serve, add dressing to the salad and top it off with the nuts or seeds of your choice. 

Hummus Wrap

Similar to quinoa, hummus is very nutritious and packed with plant-based proteins. As such, it is a great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans alike. However, it is especially effective in fighting inflammation which is the body’s way of trying to protect itself from infections and injuries. In the case where inflammation may persist longer than necessary, hummus contains antioxidants to combat this. Hummus also has fiber that promotes digestive health and its high protein content increases metabolism. [3]

Source: The Simple Veganista

Source: The Simple Veganista


  • Hummus

  • 1 tortilla 

  • ½ bell pepper, diced

  • ½ avocado, sliced

  • ¼ onion, sliced

  • Pickled jalapeno

  • Black olives

  • Hot sauce of your choice

To make this simple wrap, heat the tortilla on a pan or in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Generously spread hummus on the tortilla. Then, add in the vegetables of your choice. Given here are the vegetables I like to include in my wrap. You can also add protein like grilled chicken or tofu. Add some hot sauce for a kick of spice and voila!


Eggs are nutritious and a good source of amino acids. They have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease by raising HDL (high-density lipoprotein), also known as the ‘good’ cholesterol in our body. [4] Here’s a Mediterranean-style recipe, featuring poached eggs in tomato sauce, that tastes divine with a slice of toast.

Source: Love & Lemons

Source: Love & Lemons


  • ¼ onion, diced

  • ½ bell pepper, diced

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 tsp paprika

  • ½ tsp cumin

  • ¼ tsp chili powder

  • Tomato puree

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 2 large eggs

Heat olive oil in a pan and add bell pepper and onion. Sauté and cook until onion becomes translucent. Add garlic and other spices and cook for a minute. Pour the tomato puree into the pan and season with salt and pepper. Bring sauce to a simmer. Make small wells in the sauce and crack the eggs into them. Cover the pan and cook until eggs are done to your liking. [5]

Shrimp Pesto Zoodles

Zucchini noodles, or zoodles, are all the rage these days. Zucchini contains significant amounts of soluble and insoluble fibers, which can help to improve digestion, immunity, and overall health. Its antioxidant content may also support vision. [6] Zucchini can be easily incorporated into a meal; here’s one delicious way to do so!



  • 1 zucchini

  • Frozen cooked shrimp

  • Pesto

  • Salt to taste

Using a vegetable peeler, slice the zucchini into thin strands to resemble a noodle shape. In a pan, heat olive oil and add zucchini noodles (zoodles). Sauté for about a minute until zoodles are soft. Add frozen shrimp and cook for another minute. Finally, add pesto to your liking and season with salt. Mix ingredients well on heat. 

Sweet Potato Jacket

Along with their amazing taste, sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients and fibers that promote gut health. Research shows that sweet potatoes may be able to fight against certain types of cancer as well. To some extent, purple sweet potatoes can also support brain function by lowering the risk of mental decline and dementia. Sweet potatoes contain vitamin A, which is critical to a healthy immune system. [7]



  • 1 sweet potato

  • 1 avocado

  • 1 tbsp. lime juice

  • ½ chili, diced

  • Black pepper and salt to taste

  • Black beans

Wash sweet potato and poke holes in it with a fork. Microwave for 3 minutes. Turn over the sweet potato and microwave for another 3 minutes. Check if it is tender with a fork; if not, reheat it in the microwave. In a separate bowl, add mashed avocado and season with lime juice, chili, black pepper, and salt. Mix well. Slice through the middle of the sweet potato with a knife and top it with beans and the homemade guacamole. [8]

Bottom Line

Eating healthy doesn’t always mean cooking complex meals, buying expensive produce, or spending hours in the kitchen. But once we prioritize our nutrition and make some time for ourselves, we can work wonders. Fueling our brains and bodies with high-quality food is another step towards maximizing our productivity at work.


  1. “Essential Amino Acids: Definition, Benefits and Food Sources.” healthline.com. (2018)

  2. “11 Proven Health Benefits of Quinoa.” healthline.com. (2018)

  3. “Is Hummus Healthy? 8 Great Reasons to Eat More Hummus.” healthline.com. (2018)

  4. “Top 10 Health Benefits of Eating Eggs.” healthline.com. (2018)

  5. “Shakshuka.” downshiftology.com. (2018)

  6. “12 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Zucchini.” healthline.com. (2019) 

  7. “6 Surprising Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes.” healthline.com. (2019)

  8. “Sweet Potato Jackets With Kidney Beans and Guacamole.” bbcgoodfood.com. (2016)

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