Recipes for the Busy College Student


by Chloe Pica 

            We students know that our days can be packed with school, work, and homework.  So when we finally end our day and come home, we want a quick and easy (yet filling!) meal to satisfy our hunger.  There are so many quick and easy recipes out there for the bustling college student! I was once gifted a I Love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook: 150 Cheap and Easy Gourmet Recipes which has numerous simple, easy recipes that anybody can follow.  Some recipes are as simple as putting everything in the microwave, while others take a bit more time. 

Here are three delicious recipes from that cookbook:

*Most ingredients are Trader Joe’s ingredients since it is a cookbook in their honor.  However, any ingredients can be substituted or bought at any other stores.  This might increase prep or cooking time, but the outcomes will be the same.

Chickpea Penne

Yield: 2 servings

Prep Time: 1 minute

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

  • ½ (16 ounce) package frozen Trader Joe’s “Just Pasta” Penne
  • 1 (10-ounce) package Trader Joe’s Channa Masala (mixture of tomatoes, chickpeas, and spices)
  • ½ teaspoon Trader Joe’s Crushed Garlic
  1. Microwave the pasta according to the package directions.
  2. Pierce a few holes in the plastic film on the channa masala.  Microwave on high power until warm, 4 to 4 ½ minutes.
  3. Transfer the pasta to a medium bowl.  Add the channa masala and the garlic. Stir to combine.

*Remember, any of these ingredients can be bought at a different store! Chickpeas are generally sold in cans titled Garbanzo Beans.  Penne pasta is sold, uncooked, in packages at any store.  Minced or crushed garlic is sold in cans at any store as well (generally in the produce section). Add tomatoes and your own variety of spices as well if you’re not near a Trader Joe’s!

Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas

Yield: 4 to 6 enchiladas

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 25 minutes

  • ½ (16-ounce) package Trader Joe’s Just Chicken white meat
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle Trader Joe’s Enchilada Sauce, divided
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheese, such as Trader Joe’s Fancy Shredded Lite Mexican Blend, divided
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 4 to 6 whole wheat tortillas
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Chop the chicken into very small pieces and place in a medium bowl with three-quarters of the enchilada sauce, the salt, pepper, and 1 cup shredded cheese, and sour cream.  Stir to combine the enchilada filling.
  3. Spoon the filling down the center of each tortilla, dividing it evenly among the tortillas, and roll the enchiladas up.
  4. Arrange the enchiladas in the prepared baking dish.  Drizzle the remaining sauce over the enchiladas.
  5. Bake until the enchiladas are hot throughout, 20 to 25 minutes.  Garnish with the remaining cheese.

*If you are a vegetarian, substitute Trader Joe’s Black Beans for chicken.  Also, this recipe is very simple and delicious, yet not too spicy! If one is looking for more of a kick, add spice to taste.


Meatball Sub

Yield: 2 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

  • ½ (16-ounce) package frozen Trader Giotto’s Meatballs Fully Cooked (about 6 meatballs)
  • ½ cup Trader Giotto’s Organic Tomato Basil Marinara
  • 1 (12-ounce) package Trader Giotto’s Garlic Break Sticks
  • 2 slices provolone cheese, halves
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Cut each meatball in half and place in a microwave-safe dish.  Microwave on high until slightly warm, about 1 minutes.  Pour the marinara sauce over the meatballs and microwave on high until the sauce is warm, about 1 minute.
  3. Split 2 of the bread sticks in half lengthwise, cutting only three-quarters of the way through to keep the halves attached.  Place the bread on the prepared baking sheet, split-side up.  Evenly divide the heated meatballs and marinara sauce between the split bread sticks and top each one with 2 cheese halves.
  4. Bake the sandwiches until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted, 7 to 10 minutes

*Once again, all these ingredients can be bought elsewhere!

For more recipes from this cookbook, search: The I Love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook by Andrea Lynn


Lynn, Andrea. “Sandwiches & Salads, Pastas, and Main Meals.” I Love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook: 150 Cheap and Easy Gourmet Recipes. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses, 2011. Print.

Chloe Pica, CSUMB Student studied abroad in Florence, Italy in 2010 with GSE, or Global Student Experience and went abroad in Costa Rica in 2009, with ISV, or International Student Volunteers.