Eating on campus as a commuter can quickly become expensive and unhealthy. Why not try some of these delicious and budget-friendly college commuter lunch ideas that will be easy on the wallet and the tummy?
Between getting to class, part-time work, work experience, and family and social time, college students often end up rushing here, there, and everywhere.
Throw in a long commute, and the struggle is real.
Eating in the dining hall, residence halls, or work cafeteria is always an option, but that can fast add up. Not only in terms of money but also in terms of a constant flow of less desirable food options that are almost akin to eating fast food every day.
What Is A Commuter Lunch?
The best commuter lunches are:
- easily portable
- easily heated up with the addition of hot water or a quick blitz in the microwave
- preferably not too smelly (I love a good tuna salad as much as the next person, but that stuff can quickly clear out a busload of people in no time!)
- able to last the day without refrigeration
- filling and preferably healthy.
Try out some of these easy recipes using healthy easy-to-find ingredients that can be bought from the grocery store to switch things up.
Quick Fix Lunch Suggestions
Ramen noodles have kind of become the inside joke when it comes to college students and their food options, but they are actually really easy to make that little bit healthier by simply ditching the packet seasonings they come with and adding your own with a combination of vegetables.
- a handful of frozen vegetables
- some frozen edamame
- a boiled egg
- some chopped rotisserie chicken (make your own and use for lunches for a couple of days)
- a handful of baby spinach
- a teaspoon of good quality chicken or vegetable stock powder in place of the seasoning packets
- a good sprinkle of sesame seeds or other nuts or seeds for some added protein
Homemade salads can be a simple affair, or something altogether more on the extravagant side of things.
I would suggest throwing together some simple ingredients like baby spinach with chopped cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta cheese for a simple salad that pairs well with most meals.
Add a simple dressing of olive oil and lemon and you are good to go. With this type of dressing, you won't need a food processor, which is handy if you are living in a dorm room.
Make up a couple of jar salads with different variations of simple ingredients to grab on the way out the door in the morning.
Tip: make your salad in a jar! This keeps all of the salad ingredients separate from the dressing and simply needs to be given a good shake before being enjoyed.
Getting extra protein into your diet will help keep you feeling full for longer, and can be as easy as bringing along a high-protein smoothie like this red berry protein smoothie.
What To Eat On Campus
If you find yourself having to eat on campus then look for healthier options that make your dollar go further.
Dining halls can be a great place to find a variety of menu options which gives you the ability to make unlimited meals, you just have to get creative.
- check out the salad bar and add a protein option such as chicken for a nutritious chicken salad;
- why not add some ground beef with a low-carb tortilla and some sour cream for a taco salad;
- look for filling proteins like peanut butter and other nut butters. These are a great option paired with chopped fruit and vegetable sticks, or even eaten on their own;
- sweet potatoes are always a great option as they are filling, and loaded with good things. Top up with other veggies for a complete meal.
Food To Keep In The Dorm Room
If you have a mini fridge and a microwave in the dorm room then you are in luck as there are so many meals you can make that don't take up much space and can last quite a while.
Bringing your own food along for the day can save some serious dollars if you don't have a lot of money or dining dollars to spend.
- protein bars: a good protein bar is worth its weight in gold as it keeps you fuller for longer, which means you can have one for breakfast, or with lunch, and you won't be hungry until the next meal. Make a batch of your own at home to keep stored in your dorm fridge (like these almond butter banana oatmeal bars), or buy premade bars from the store;
- oatmeal: whether you buy whole rolled oats or the packets of oats with flavoring, this is a great inexpensive option to have in the dorm room for a satisfying breakfast that will keep you fuller for longer;
- nut butter: these usually last pretty well without the need for refrigeration and are great for snacking on. Dip some fruit or veggies, add to smoothies, or even smear on top of your protein bar for extra goodness;
- smoothies: invest in a mini blender that doesn't take up much space. Portable blenders are also super cheap and handy. Make up a smoothie in the morning and it will keep you fuller for longer. Add a scoop of protein powder to keep you even more full.
A Commuter Meal Plan For Commuter Students
Making a meal plan is a great way to ensure you have a toteable lunch to see you through the week.
Even if it is just snacks, that's still a start!
Check out some of these amazing recipes that are easy to make and take with you on your commute, make a shopping list based on the recipes you would like to incorporate into your commute, and start loading up on healthy eating, nutritious foods, and more money in your wallet.
Commuter Snack Recipes
Commuter Lunch Recipes
I hope you have found some inspiration from these commuter-friendly recipes.
If you have a favorite snack or meal you like to enjoy on your commute to and from school or work be sure to leave a comment below and let me know so that I can update the list!