When in college, it is very hard to find time to not only cook, but to find options that are healthy, inexpensive, filling, and don't taste like you are eating grass. Fortunately, through the changes in my diet and overall lifestyle that I have been making for a little over a year now, I have found a really great recipe that is not only healthy, filling and tastes great, but it is inexpensive and you can make it in big portions to freeze or prepare for a whole week of meals!
The recipe that I make quite often I call a spring roll mix. Now, this recipe contains ground beef, however, it can be altered by using chicken instead of beef for those who don't eat red meat or for vegetarians and vegans by eliminating the meat! In addition, I do not use exact measurements when I make these recipes, I eyeball it based on how much I am making at the time. I also use organic grass fed ground beef, organic free range non-gmo chicken, organic rice, organic vegetables, and organic seasonings. Again, these are my personal preferences, but I understand as college students that not everyone can afford to eat organically. Therefore, if non-organic meats, produce, and seasonings need to be purchased to accommodate your budget that is perfectly fine! It is definitely better than simply eating a bag of Cheetos for dinner!
For the spring roll mix, I buy adobo seasoning, microwave rice, organic grass-fed beef, red or orange bell peppers, frozen broccoli, bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, green onion, and a pre-made coleslaw mix that consists of carrots, cabbage, and cucumber. Now, depending on how much I want to make, that influences how much ground beef and vegetables I add. I usually cook around one package of ground beef, which equates to about 4 or 5 portions that I then freeze or store in the fridge for a few days.
To start, I cook the frozen broccoli in boiling water on the stove. Following that, I cut the bell peppers in medium-sized pieces and dice the green onion. I also dice the basil and cilantro. I then begin to add the bell peppers followed by the green onion, coleslaw mix and bean sprouts. After they are slightly cooked I take them and the broccoli off the heat, strain the broccoli, and put all of the vegetables in a mixing bowl. In the same pan, I add the ground beef, basil, and cilantro, and while that cooks, I put the rice in the microwave. Before the ground beef cooks all the way through, I add the vegetables and adobo seasoning to the beef, allow it to cook a little more, and then take it off the heat. I don't cook the beef all of the way through and the reason I do this is to prevent the beef from drying out when I take it out of the freezer to reheat.
Now it is time to portion! After gathering all my storage containers I add a cup of rice to each container and then try to evenly divide the meat and vegetable mixture to each container. To add some crispness and freshness to the meal I will also add water chestnuts, sugar snap peas, and fresh bell pepper after I defrost and reheat the meal.
When I make the spring roll recipe with chicken, I go through all of the same steps except I cut the chicken into small pieces, and I also buy a white onion. I cube and roast the onion in the pan to add more of a barbeque chicken kabob flare to the recipe, but other than that, everything else is the same!
Like I said, this recipe isn't an exact science and I do a lot of eyeballing. But, it is super simple, healthy, tasty, inexpensive, and can be adapted to make several different variations and fit the eating accommodations for different people. However, the best part is that you can make this recipe in one portion or make it in several portions to freeze for the week and it becomes a great time saver!