10 Ways to Eat Cheap and Healthy When You Don’t Have a Full Kitchen

10 Ways to Eat Cheap and Healthy When You Don’t Have a Full Kitchen
Photo: Monthira, Shutterstock

The redditors at r/EatCheapAndHealthy have come through for us when we were looking for cheap and healthy cold lunches, and cheap and healthy dinners for when we’re lazy. Now, let’s look at their recommendations for cheap and healthy meals you can make even if you don’t have a real kitchen.

Even if you’re stuck in a dorm or hotel, you can do a lot with just a microwave and a mini fridge, or sometimes nothing at all. Just remember for safety reasons that you need a refrigerator if you want to store leftover food, sliced veggies, or anything that came from the cold section of the store, or anything that says “refrigerate after opening.” Stay safe out there.

Greek salad

Screenshot: Reddit Screenshot: Reddit

A simple Greek salad can be made from canned items (olives, optionally tuna or chicken) and fresh veggies. As the commenter notes, you can turn this into a pasta salad if you have a way to make pasta!

Hearty oats

Screenshot: Reddit/FaceDownInTheCake Screenshot: Reddit/FaceDownInTheCake

Instant oatmeal is easy enough to make in a microwave or with a source of hot water. But don’t stop there: Turn it into a hearty meal with nuts, fruits, and seasonings.

Embrace the tuna life

Screenshot: Reddit/liz_numbersix Screenshot: Reddit/liz_numbersix

Canned (or pouch) tuna is a cheap protein source. If you don’t like tuna, look for canned salmon or canned chicken, which are similarly shelf-stable and nutritious, if a bit more expensive. Add the tuna or other protein to microwaved veggies and rice, or make melts. (Just make sure tuna isn’t your only meal or protein source, due to mercury concerns. Even so, a few tuna meals a week is considered safe for most people.)

Make mug eggs

Screenshot: Reddit Screenshot: Reddit

Scrambled eggs come out decently well from a microwave, and as this redditor describes, they can be eaten by themselves or make a base for many meals including rice and bean bowls.

Instant quesadillas

Screenshot: Reddit Screenshot: Reddit

With the right canned items, you can have a whole pantry of ingredients to use for quesadillas, tacos, and more. Chicken, beans, and salsa are perfect to start with.

Peanut noodles

Screenshot: Reddit Screenshot: Reddit

You probably already have peanut butter sandwiches in your budget cuisine repertoire, but what about peanut butter noodles? Use this recipe or make up your own, and serve over ramen or whatever noodles you’re able to make. Add some veggies and protein to make it a full meal.

Hearty salads

Screenshot: Reddit Screenshot: Reddit

Fresh veggies open up all kinds of salad possibilities, especially if you have a protein source to add on top. Frozen or canned fish can work, or snag a rotisserie chicken. Greens and dressing round out the salad, and we love the toast-as-croutons hack.

Tiny pasta

Screenshot: Reddit Screenshot: Reddit

Couscous is, indeed, a tiny pasta. It takes very little hot water to cook, making it perfect if you only have a kettle, and then you can use it as you would rice or any other grain.

Loaded baked potatoes

Screenshot: Reddit/Holskitchen Screenshot: Reddit/Holskitchen

Potatoes and sweet potatoes cook pretty well in the microwave. Once your potato is “baked,” add as many hearty toppings as you like. Butter and cheese are good for starters, but don’t forget that you can add meats, sauces, and anything else you’ve got on hand.

Pie-inspired desserts

Screenshot: Reddit Screenshot: Reddit

These recipes come from a giant post on the subreddit about how to eat well with only a mini fridge and a microwave. It’s worth checking out the whole thing. Both the baked apple and peach crisp will give you a cheap and healthy yet decadent dessert.

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