words by Hilary Kearns

Living in a dorm for the first time and juggling the busyness of being a student can easily lead to unhealthy eating choices — like living on Taco Bell, ramen noodles and pizza.  But this doesn’t have to be the case. You can make delicious meals in your dorm that are healthy, satisfying, and good for you. All you need is a ball jar and some simple, affordable ingredients to make these five delicious, healthy meals.

Chili with Cornbread Crust

Cornbread and chili scream fall! You can easily make this seasonal favorite in a jar for a portable meal. To do it,  you can make the chili from a recipe— I like the  Food Network’s recipe for Simple, Perfect Chili—or use your favorite can of chili and put it in a jar 3 quarters full. For cornbread, you can make a mix from scratch—Betty Crocker has a great recipe for Cornbread— or use a box of cornbread mix like Jiffy or Krusteaz. Mix up your batter and dollop on top of the chili, leaving about 2 inches clear at the top of the jar. Bake the jar with the lid off on a cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 17-22 minutes, or until the cornbread is golden brown on top. Bake multiple jars to have several meals throughout the week. Then enjoy your home-cooked meal, at home or to go.


3/4 cup or 1 can of chili

1 recipe of cornbread batter

salt and pepper to taste


shredded cheese, onions, sour cream

Acai Berry Banana Smoothie

Smoothies are perfect for those mornings when you don’t have time to cook and need an on-the-go breakfast as you rush to class. Adding the antioxidant-rich acai berries will supply nutrients to help you get through your day.  In a blender, add all of your smoothie ingredients and blend on high speed for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour into your mason jar and enjoy on the go.


1 (3.5 oz) packet frozen acai berries or 1 tbsp acai powder

1 banana

1/2 cup coconut or almond milk

1/3 cup frozen berries

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait 

Just three ingredients are needed for this delicious recipe: fruit, yogurt, and granola. Use light or Greek yogurt to keep it healthy, and strawberries, blueberries, or bananas to make it sweet. You can switch up the flavor by trying different yogurt and fruit combinations to keep it interesting, and adding granola packs more calories on days you need them– not to mention a delicious crunch.


6 oz yogurt

1 cup of fruit

1/4 cup granola

Burrito Bowl

Make your own burrito bowl in a jar. Start with rice or quinoa as a base and add your choice of protein. I like to grill some chicken or even get some rotisserie chicken from Albertson’s or Safeway, but you can add whatever you want. Next, use some vegetables like spinach, lettuce, or onions to make a burrito bowl that rivals Chipotle. Layer ingredients in jar in order: taco sauce, beans, rice, meat, and then toppings.


1/2 cup taco sauce or sour cream

1/4 cup of black beans

1/2 cup cooked rice or quinoa

1/2 cup chopped chicken,

beef, or protein

1/4 cup of toppings


spinach, lettuce, onions, cilantro, tomatoes, guacamole

Turkey Basil Meatballs with Pasta or Rice

Turkey meatballs are a lean alternative to beef, and eating them from a jar helps control portion size. In a medium bowl mix sweet basil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste until combined. Then add in the turkey meat to make these addictively tasty meatballs.

Once added, mix the turkey meat with your hands, making sure not to overmix. Form into 24 small balls using your hands. Bake for 20 minutes , turning once halfway through. In the meantime, prepare pasta or rice. Once done, layer pasta or rice, meatballs, and sauce of your choice in a jar. Top with fresh basil.

Serve whole wheat pasta or brown rice as a healthier alternative to white pasta.


1 lb of turkey

1/4 cup basil

1 tbsp of minced garlic

1/2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tbsp of tomato paste

1/2 cup whole wheat pasta or brown rice