5 Easy, Budget-Friendly Recipes For The Times You're Too Lazy To Leave Your Apartment

Whether it happens in college or a year into starting your career, money and time will, at some point, be tight. However, these two factors shouldn't be a sacrifice to your health.

During my college years, I experimented with different ingredients to come up with the following easy and healthy dishes that are sure to please.

As long as you have your kitchen staples, like olive oil, spices, lemon juice and brown sugar, the following five meals will have you spending less time in the kitchen and more time with your friends:

Slow Cooker Pork and Sweet Potatoes

A crock-pot saved me in college, literally. There were many days during which I was in class all day or went from class to babysitting without a slight thought about a healthy meal.

On those days, put all the ingredients in a crock-pot in the morning, and it'll be ready by dinnertime. Plus, it serves six people, so make it for you and your roommates, or freeze the leftovers for later.


1 1/2 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 3-inch pieces

3 c. raw, sliced sweet potatoes

1/2 c. each chopped onion and chopped green bell pepper

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon parsley

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Spray a crock-pot with cooking spray. Combine pork and vegetables into the crock pot and separately combine tomatoes and spices. Pour mixture over pork and veggies. Cover and cook on low for eight to 10 hours. Stir before serving.

Easy Chicken and Vegetable Fajitas

Most recipes for fajitas require you to cook the vegetables and protein separately. However, this dish lets you combine both the vegetables and protein into one pan before letting the oven do its magic.


1 1/2 pounds of chicken breast, cut into strips

1 each red and green bell pepper, sliced

1 onion, sliced

1 package fajita spice mix (McCormick is good)

Spray the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch Pyrex pan with cooking spray. Add sliced chicken and vegetables into the pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle spice mix on top.

Toss chicken and vegetables to coat. Cover and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, stirring mixture every 10 minutes. Serve with desired fajita toppings and feel free to experiment with different vegetables.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Salad

I could have kale at every meal, every day. It is chock-full of nutrients and a great substitute for practically any green, leafy vegetable.

Roast the squash, toss with kale and a quick, tasty dressing, and you have a meal that most people will think you spent hours to prepare.


1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and diced into 3/4-inch pieces

1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional) and 1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 cup olive oil

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 or 4 cups of kale

Place squash on a sheet pan. Drizzle with tablespoons of maple syrup and olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing occasionally until tender.

Whisk vinegar, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Place kale in a salad bowl, add roasted butternut squash, drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with cheese. Toss to coat and season again with salt and pepper if needed.

Roasted Tomatoes with Shrimp and Feta

My brother is the pickiest of eaters, yet this recipe was a hit in the kitchen. This can be served alone or over pasta or orzo. Serve it with crusty bread to mop up the juices, as the feta and tomato flavors are hard to beat.


5 large tomatoes, cut into eighths

1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup crumbled Feta cheese

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Place tomatoes in a large baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic, salt and pepper. Roast at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in shrimp, parsley and lemon juice, then sprinkle with feta. Return to oven until shrimp are cooked, about 10-15 minutes.

Slow Cooker Barbeque Chicken

Barbeque chicken is always a hit. While there are a thousand ways to make it, from vinegar-based to tomato-based, chopped or pulled, this recipe allows you to customize the barbeque as you wish. The secret to great barbeque: Cook it long and slow.

2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Barbeque sauce (your own or store-bought preference)

Spray bottom of slow cooker with cooking spray. Place chicken in the crock-pot and pour enough barbeque sauce to cover it. Cover and cook on low for four to five hours, or until chicken is done. Remove the chicken from the crock-pot and shred with two forks. Serve with additional barbeque sauce.