College Meals – Braised Pork and Pasta Week

College Meals – Braised Pork and Pasta Week – five easy to make, healthy and inexpensive recipes that are perfect for busy college students...

College Meals - Braised Pork and Pasta Week, a week of recipes featuring Braised Pork, Shrimp and Penne Pasta, Pizza and more. Easy, healthy and inexpensive recipes that are perfect for college students on a budget.

This week’s recipes include Braised Pork Chops, Pasta with Creamy Marinara Sauce, Chickpea and Tomato Salad, English Muffin Pizzas and Shrimp with Penne Pasta.

There have been a few changes here at ZagLeft, have you noticed?

Creating recipes, writing and blogging on the college meal section of this blog has been an evolutionary process for me. What started out with me posting a weekly menu/meal plan along with a grocery list every Monday has changed just a bit.  As you may have gathered, I am posting my weekly menu on the first Monday of every month.  On each of the other Mondays, I am featuring recipes made especially for you, my “college” readers.  These recipes are easy-to-make, smaller portion recipes designed to help you learn to create delicious foods using simple ingredients.

My decision to go this route is from the feedback I’ve been receiving from my readers.  Many of you want to learn how to cook and bake on a smaller scale.  I want to provide that for you.  Rest assured, there will still be many microwave recipes and no-bake recipes that will be featured too.

I hope you like the new format.  Please let me know your thoughts and if you have suggestions on how to make it better.

Wow, there are only two weeks until Easter which means the school year is winding down.  It’s hard to believe the summer is almost here.  But we’re ready.

Have you thought about summer internships?   Now is a good time to start looking into them if you haven’t already.  Speaking of internships, my three older kids have all participated in the Disney College Program, a paid internship for college students where you actually live near either Disneyland or Walt Disney World and work in the parks.  Some colleges and universities even offer college credit for participation in the program.  My kids loved their experiences working with Disney and would do it again if they could.  You can read more about the Disney College Program in a few of the articles I wrote on the subject…

The Disney College Program

The Disney College Program – a few additional tips for parents

The Disney College Program Packing and Arrival Tips

Disney Face Character and Parade Performer Auditions – What to expect

Do you have old t-shirts that you no longer wear but have a special attachment to?  I love this idea from the not so blank canvas for taking old t-shirts and mounting them to canvas.  What a great way to preserve a memory!

This is such a clever and unique way to organize your desk using items we all have in our kitchens.

Speaking of items we already own, here are a few new uses for things you have in your dorm room.

Counting down the days until the end of the semester?  Here are 20 tips for managing the last month.

Have a great week!


Quick Braised Pork Chops with Salsa – What is braising?  Braising is a cooking technique in which the main ingredient, pork in this case is seared or fried and then slowly simmered in a pot on a low heat.  The pork chops in this recipe are actually quickly fried and simmered only for a few minutes.  They’re tender and juicy and there will be enough leftover for the next night to enjoy with a salad.

Quick Braised Pork Chops - an easy to make meal for college students from ZagLeft


4 boneless pork chops (about 1/2-inch thick), trimmed of fat

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup your favorite salsa


Season both sides of the pork chops.

Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Place the pork chops in the hot oil and brown about 3 minutes per side.

Remove the pork chops from the pan and set aside on a plate. Add the chicken broth to the pan and “deglaze” the pan, scraping up the brown bits with a spoon.

Add the salsa and stir together well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer 3-4 minutes.

Return the pork chops to the pan and spoon a little of the sauce over the tops of each pork chop.

Cover and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until pork chops are completely cooked through.


Tomato and Chickpea Salad and leftover Pork Chops

Tomato and Chickpea Salad from ZagLeft - College Student Meals, a weekly recipe plan for busy college students.


1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 bunch cilantro (about 1 cup packed), finely chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon

pinch of salt and pepper

crumbled feta cheese, optional


Place the chickpeas, tomatoes and cilantro in a bowl and mix well.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, white wine vinegar, tarragon, salt and pepper.

Pour over the chickpeas and tomato mixture.

Stir to blend

Top with feta if desired


Creamy Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes



8 ounces of penne pasta

1/2 jar of spaghetti sauce

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

3 ounces cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1/2 cup spinach leaves


Heat a large skillet on medium high heat.  Pour in the spaghetti sauce.  Add the garlic powder and basil.  Stir in the cream cheese and the cheddar cheese and stir until cheeses are melted.  Add in the pasta and heat through.  Remove from the heat and stir in the spinach leaves. Pour into a bowl and top with parmesan cheese.


English Muffin Pizzas – here’s where you can really get creative.  Use any leftover vegetables you might have from earlier in the week. Spinach, fresh basil and cherry tomatoes would all be delicious toppings.  



1 English Muffin, sliced in half

1/4 cup tomato or spaghetti sauce

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or use any cheese leftover from earlier recipes this week)

6 slices of pepperoni (optional)


Spoon the sauce over each of the English Muffin slices. Divide the cheese between the two pizzas and top with pepperoni slices or vegetables. Microwave until the cheese starts to melt.  Be sure to watch closely.  Depending on the strength of your microwave it could take 15 seconds to 45 seconds.


Shrimp and Penne Pasta with Creamy Marinara Sauce

Shrimp and Penne Pasta with Creamy Marinara Sauce from ZagLeft - College Student Meals


8 ounces penne pasta (use other half of the 1-pound package)

1/2 jar Spaghetti Sauce or Marinara Sauce

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 cup shrimp (peeled and deveined)

1 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder


Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Pour in the pasta and cook according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter.  Add the shrimp, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Stir several times until shrimp is cooked (about 5 minutes).  Remove from heat.

In a medium saucepan over a medium high heat, pour in the marinara sauce and heavy cream.  Stir constantly until heated through.  Stir in the parmesan cheese.  The sauce should thicken as it heats and as you stir.

Place the penne pasta in a large bowl.  Pour the creamy marinara sauce over the pasta and add the shrimp to the bowl.  Stir well until everything is mixed throughout.

Serve and garnish with fresh, torn basil leaves and freshly grated parmesan cheese, if you’d like.

Healthy, inexpensive and delicious recipes for busy college students.

College Meals - Braised Pork and Pasta Week

College Meals - Braised Pork and Pasta Week - five easy to make, healthy and inexpensive recipes that are perfect for busy college students. This week's recipes include Braised Pork Chops, Pasta with Creamy Marinara Sauce, Chickpea and Tomato Salad, English Muffin Pizzas and Shrimp with Penne Pasta.
Servings: 5 meals plus leftovers


  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • Olive oil
  • Chicken broth
  • Salsa
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cilantro
  • Olive oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • Dried tarragon
  • Feta cheese
  • Penne pasta
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Garlic powder
  • Dried basil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Spinach
  • English muffins
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Pepperoni optional
  • Penne pasta
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Heavy cream
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shrimp
  • Butter


  • Use these ingredients to make 5 easy and delicious meals.

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Blackened Tilapia With Cilantro Lime Sauce

How To Make Alfredo Sauce

Broiled Salmon and Roasted Zucchini, For One!

Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread For One

How To Stock A College Student’s Pantry

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