Doctors' NotesLifestyle

Move Over Ramen: 5 Healthy Meals On A Budget

Arguably one of the cheapest and easiest meals to make on the planet, Instant Ramen noodles are a staple for most college students living in the dorms and anyone trying to stretch their budget. They have not been a favorite among most health experts though, as they are full of calories, sodium, saturated fats and preservatives—all of which you should avoid in excess when going for a healthy well-balanced diet.

One prominent Instant Ramen noodle company recently made a bold move towards healthy options by announcing they are now reducing sodium and eliminating artificial flavors from their noodle cups. Although a start, Instant Ramen noodles can’t really be considered a healthy meal just yet. Even with the reduced sodium recipe, one cup of noodles still holds 45% of the daily recommended value of sodium per day.

But no worries for the college student on the go and on a budget. You don’t have to sacrifice healthy nutrition for low cost junk food. We’ve got five budget-friendly, healthy options for meals that can be made in any dorm room with very little fuss.

1) Rotisserie chicken tacos

A quick trip to the local supermarket for a rotisserie chicken can land you a few healthy meals. Chicken tacos can be easily prepared with a little seasoning and a few garnishes and you’ll think you are dining out. All you need is salsa, whole grain taco shells (hard or soft), and a little bit of shredded cheese to make this meal. Be sure to make this while the chicken is still warm for the best flavors. Find the full recipe here.

2) BBQ chicken sandwiches

The perfect meal for those late-night study sessions with friends, this recipe is quick, easy, and tasty. The only requirements are rotisserie chicken, your favorite barbecue sauce, and whole grain hamburger buns and you’ve got a fun meal with no fuss. To make sliders, simply replace the traditional whole grain bun with a whole grain slider bun. Find the full recipe here.

3) Curried chicken salad

Once that leftover rotisserie chicken has cooled, make it into a salad. This recipe is quick and easy and will give you that island flavor that curry seasoning is known for. All you’ll need for this low-calorie meal is plain fat-free yogurt, grapes, curry powder and lettuce. If you need to eat it on the go, pair it with some whole grain bread for a tasty chicken salad sandwich. Find the full recipe here.

4) Overnight oatmeal

When the traditional cold cereal breakfast gets boring, try making your breakfast the night before. Overnight oatmeal is one of the best-kept secrets and is a healthy yet tasty way to start your day. You will literally only need four ingredients: rolled oats, applesauce, cinnamon, and your milk of choice. Mix this up before bed and wake up to yummy goodness. No microwave…no problem! This is served warm or cold. Find the full recipe here.

5) Tuna avocado salad

Before you reject this recipe because you think your tuna salad is not supposed to be green, just know that it actually works well and is really tasty. The avocado is chock full of fat that’s good for you, making it a much healthier substitute for the mayonnaise and the tuna is packed with protein that helps to control the appetite. This recipe will help you create a great snack or light meal with just three ingredients—canned tuna, avocado, and lemon juice. Pair it with whole grain crackers, bread, or lettuce. Find the full recipe here.

It’s a health thing…we’ve got to understand!

About the Doctors:

Dr. Karla and Dr. Rob are the founders of Urban Housecall, a multimedia health and wellness resource, and also hosts of the Urban Housecall Radio Show.  For more from the doctors, visit their website at, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter @urbanhousecall!