Healthier, happier – some simple meal ideas

my apple and cinnamon muffins

Listening to the radio on a recent drive home I heard an advertisement for the Queensland Government’s ‘Healthier. Happier’ initiative which emphasises the importance of eating well in order to avoid snacking on unhealthy foods and takeaway. So I decided to use this opportunity to share some easy and substantial recipes that every university student should have in their culinary repertoire – don’t panic you won’t need to be Masterchef for these simple recipes!


Delicious, nutritious and ready in minutes! The stir-fry is every student’s best friend when it comes to easy meals. Simply fry up thin strips of your favourite meat or tofu (I love chicken), slice up and toss in some vegetables – perhaps some capsicum, corn, carrot, mushrooms and snow peas – stir through some honey soy sauce and voila – it’s done! You can add noodles or rice for a more hearty meal and experiment with different sauces, meat and vegies – or if you’re super short on time try using pre-packaged mixed vegetables from the supermarket freezer.


A staple in almost every student’s diet, there are so many options for this Italian classic. Boil some water, cook a packet of your favourite pasta and stir it through a bottle of pasta sauce – there are endless options in the sauce aisle of your supermarket and feel free to experiment with extras to create a healthier, more filling meal. My favourite combination is a tomato based pasta sauce with penne and Mediterranean vegetables – try zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms and onion. Pasta is also an excellent dish to freeze and reheat. Why not cook a large batch and save the extra for those times when you just can’t face cooking?


The humble egg is an excellent source of protein and an omelette is a filling dish, especially suitable for breakfast before a full day at university. Crack a couple of eggs into a jug and whisk with a little milk or water, season with salt and pepper and cook in a frying pan. Try adding some mushrooms, tomato and spinach or cheese and bacon for some extra flavour. Eat with a slice of multigrain toast for an even more substantial meal.


The ultimate snack for a sweet tooth and again, so versatile. I’ve included a basic recipe below but feel free to customise it – there are countless delicious combinations – try apple and cinnamon, banana and walnut or choc-chip for an extra treat.

Basic Muffin Recipe:


  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 120g margarine
  • vanilla


  1. Beat butter and sugar to a cream
  2. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well
  3. Slowly sift flour into mixture and add along with milk to form a soft dough
  4. Divide mixture among 12 muffin cases and bake in a moderate oven for 20 – 25 minutes
  5. Allow to cool and enjoy!
my apple and cinnamon muffins

My apple and cinnamon muffins – baked using the basic muffin recipe above, reducing the sugar to 1/3 of a cup, replacing the vanilla for cinnamon and stirring 2 chopped and stewed apples into the mixture at the end of step 4.

So Explore readers – happy cooking, remember these quick and easy meal ideas next time you’re stuck for ideas! Also check out Henry and Britney’s posts for even more inspiration.

– Elizabeth


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