You know that feeling when you get back to your room after the longest day ever and all you can manage to do is collapse onto your bed (backpack still on)? With your head facedown on the pillow, the realization hits: You still need to feed yourself. 😩
At this point, cooking a meal probably sounds like so much work—especially when you can just order something from your bed. We totally get it. With all the delivery options out there, takeout is easy. But it shouldn’t be something you resort to all the time. While convenient, takeout tends to be less nutritious than a homecooked meal, and it’s definitely hard on your wallet.
“In my earlier college days, I used to eat out a lot. I had no idea how much money I was putting toward food trucks or restaurants. Now I like to cook at home because I can save money, get creative, and control what ingredients go into my food.”
—Alea A., online student, University of Hawaii at Manoa
We promise, cooking a meal doesn’t take as long as you think—and one senior is here to help.
Meet Brittaney, who’s about to show you how to make awesome pad Thai at home. It’s quick, easy, healthy, and budget-friendly. Bonus: Your roommates will thank you when they come in at 2 a.m. ravenous for leftovers.
- 1 package dried flat rice noodles (noodles that you use for pho; find these at any Asian grocery store or look for the brand Thai Kitchen at your usual store)
- ¼ cup tamarind paste (alternative: ketchup)
- ¼ cup crushed peanuts
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce (alternative: 1 teaspoon salt)
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder
- ½ lime
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Thai chili flakes
*For extra protein, add shrimp or chicken, a handful of chopped green onion for garnish, and a some bean sprouts for crunch.
- Fill a large bowl with warm water and let your noodles soak for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, drain and set aside. To make sure your noodles don’t stick, add a few drops of sesame oil. You can also cut the noodles into smaller pieces.
- In a large wok or skillet on medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and a diced garlic clove.
- Add your shrimp, if using, and stir until they turn pink. If using chicken, make sure to fully cook it so that the interior is white all the way through.
- Add your rice noodles and stir for about 1 minute.
- Mix your tamarind/ketchup, brown sugar, fish sauce/salt, soy sauce, and chicken bouillon powder in a cup and pour on top of noodles. Stir around until noodles are cooked (soft but not soggy).
- Put noodles to one side of the pan and scramble your eggs on the other. Once eggs are cooked, mix the eggs and noodles together. Add your handful of bean sprouts to the pan as well.
- Plate your noodles and garnish with crushed peanuts and green onion.
“Homemade pizza is a great party pleaser—everyone can make their own personal pizza with whatever toppings they like. It’s pretty delicious (and fun)!”
—Jessica S., first-year graduate student, University of Maryland, College Park
“I make a lot of stir-fries, especially when cooking for a group, and it’s very delicious and curbs our ‘takeout’ craving.”
—Payton S., fourth-year undergraduate, South Dakota State University
“I make homemade pizza all the time. Being of Italian heritage, it was a requirement to learn how to make dough properly and how to make genuinely good and healthy pizza. It’s delicious and way better than the greasy junk you’d order from a major chain!”
—Joe M., fourth-year undergraduate, College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts
“My husband and I love Indian food. We make different Indian meals often and switch it up with healthy alternatives. They usually taste pretty good!”
—Olivia C., third-year graduate student, Our Lady of the Lake University
“I’ve made nachos at home before—they were amazing, healthier, and less greasy than takeout.”
—Hilary P., fifth-year undergraduate, University of New Brunswick, Canada
Student Health 101 survey, June 2018.