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3 healthy and easy meals young adults need to know how to make

These recipes will help you ensure your young adult has a few meals they can make on their own.

As a parent, you may worry that your kid will be subsisting on late-night junk food once they’re out of your house and on their own. There may be a fair amount of snacking like that, but by making sure they have a few recipes they can make on their own, you can rest assured that they are at least capable of preparing and feeding themselves a nutritious meal. And hopefully, the next time you talk and you ask “Have you eaten anything green today?” the answer will be "Yes, and it was a vegetable, too.”

Grain and veggie bowls

Burrito bowls, taco bowls, Buddha bowls, goddess bowls, quinoa bowls, whatever you call it, bowls are a great option for lunch, dinner, or healthier snacking. While restaurants from fast food (Chipotle burrito bowl) to higher-end (The Ribbon in NYC) have gotten on the bowl bandwagon, these concoctions don’t require eating out to get a ton of nutrients in a convenient package at home -- or in a dorm room. The best part about bowls is you can easily swap any of the ingredients and have a completely different meal.

Start with these basic ingredients for one serving:

  • ½ cup cooked grain
  • 1 cup vegetables
  • ½ cup protein
  • 1 tablespoon sauce

Make these swaps for a burrito bowl:

  • ½ cup brown rice
  • 1 cup mix of peppers, mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes
  • ½ cup black beans, pinto beans, or shredded chicken
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce or salsa
  • To boost the flavor while keeping it healthy, add ancho chili powder a little at a time until you get a bolder taste and/or add a squeeze of lime to the rice

Make these swaps for a Mediterranean bowl:

  • ½ cup couscous
  • 1 cups mix of tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, and olives
  • ½ cup chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (ground up sesame seeds) or plain yogurt mixed with lemon juice and garlic powder

Make these swaps for an Asian-inspired bowl:

  • ½ cup brown rice noodles
  • 1 cup mixed bok choy, cauliflower, and/or sweet potato
  • ¼ cup cashews or ½ cup tofu
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce with ½ teaspoon ginger mixed with juice from half a lime


Ramen has its place in many young adult’s diets simply because it’s inexpensive and easy to make. But it doesn’t have to fall into the junk food category. Some simple additions can take a cup of noodles into a full and healthy meal without adding too much time or effort. One simple way to make it healthier is to always throw away that sodium-filled flavor packet, or only use a small amount of it. Those packets can contain a lot of sodium, putting you over your daily limit easily.

Traditional ramen

  • Add 1 cup of vegetables to any flavor ramen, try bok choy, bean sprouts, scallions, and corn for a traditional version
  • Add ½ cup pre-cooked pork or sausage or add a soft-boiled egg to get more protein

Egg Drop Soup

  • Just before your timer is up on the microwave, crack an egg into the ramen and continue cooking until the egg is cooked
  • Add 1 cup of vegetables like scallions, spinach, and/or green beans to add a serving of vegetables

*Pair the egg drop soup with a sandwich for a more complete meal.

Peanut Noodles

  • Make the ramen the way you normally would, but add a big spoonful of peanut butter and chili sauce
  • Add pre-cooked chicken strips or edamame and 1 cup shredded carrots or cooked broccoli

Overnight oatmeal

We can’t forget about breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day, right? It’s also the easiest one to blow off during a hectic morning. With this new take on oatmeal, making it the night before allows for a portable and no-hassle option. It can be eaten in class, at a desk, or on the commute. No excuses here!

The basic ingredients are:

  • ½ cup of low-fat milk or unsweetened almond or soy milk
  • ½ cup rolled oats

Add them together, put them in a jar, and leave them in the fridge overnight. Now, they aren’t going to be that delicious, as is. So, make them more nutritious and kick up the flavor by adding a few extra ingredients like;

  • ¼ cup fruit (fresh, frozen, or dried)
  • A small handful of almonds or walnuts
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla extract, apple pie spice, or maple syrup

Vary the fruits, nuts, and add-ons and you could have a different type of oatmeal every day.

Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Deb Kennedy, CEO, Build Healthy Kids and Roniece Weaver, Executive Director, Hebni Nutrition.