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Running short on time? Here are some easy fall recipes

Hearty fall foods and sweet treats like banana bread are great options if you're looking to make tasty food on a budget. – Photo by

With classwork picking up and weekends being filled with football games and get-togethers, many students find themselves struggling to eat something other than the french fries in the dining hall. 

As a sophomore who is living on her own for the first time, making something that isn’t pasta every night has been quite the struggle. But, after a few frantic calls to home from the kitchen, I’ve managed to become a chef in the making! 

Fall activities just don’t stop with hayrides, football and pumpkin carving. Why not bring them into the kitchen as well? As the weather grows colder and coursework intensifies, eating healthy, nutrient dense foods is helpful in keeping students in good health amongst the chaos we refer to as college. 

Finding fall recipes that don’t include leaving the turkey in the oven too long, burning the stuffing or forgetting to add the sugar to the cranberries is a surprisingly simple task. Luckily, I have a few favorites in my back pocket! 

Popcorn Balls 

If you’ve never made popcorn balls, you’re missing out! If you’re like me and crave a sweet and salty combo — this one's for you. 

Every Halloween growing up, my grandma and I would make popcorn balls in her kitchen, so this treat has become quite the tradition! The sweetness of the syrup mixed with the savory popcorn is spooky good, perfect for the holidays.

Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • 1 cup sugar

  • ⅓ cup white corn syrup 

  • ⅓ cup water

  • ¼ cup butter

  • ¾ tsp. salt

  • ¾ tsp. vanilla

  • 3 quarts of popcorn

Once you’ve gathered all of the ingredients, boil the sugar, syrup, water, butter and salt until it spins into a long thread in cold water. Next, remove the long thread from the hot water and add in the vanilla. Pour over the popcorn and shape into ball shapes with buttered hands to avoid the stickiness.

Banana Nut Cake 

This is a personal breakfast favorite of mine, and an especially delicious way to fuel up for a busy day. Whether it's spent cheering on the Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium or studying for statistics class at Alexander Library on the College Avenue campus — banana nut cake has your back.

While it does include walnuts, I always keep my friends with allergies in mind! Instead, replace them with chocolate chips or your favorite dried fruit (mine is cranberries).

Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • 3 cups sugar 

  • 1 cup Crisco Pure Vegetable Oil

  • 4 eggs beaten separately 

  • 1 cup buttermilk 

  • 1 ⅓ tsp baking soda 

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 2 cups chopped, ripe bananas 

  • 4 cups all purpose flour 

  • 2 tsp. baking powder 

  • 2 cups chopped walnuts (or your choice of replacement)

  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract 

First, cream the Crisco oil and sugar. Then, add the egg yolks and bananas. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt then add it to the mixture. Dissolve the baking soda with the buttermilk, then add it in as well. 

Next, whip egg whites to a stiff peak. Fold them gently into the mixture. Once the mixture is complete, I prefer to pour it into a tube cake pan, but as a fellow college student, I know that options are limited, so any oven safe container will do the trick! 

Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. After baking and cooling, add your favorite frosting, top with walnuts and enjoy! 

Autumn Beef Stew 

Before leaving home for campus, my parents bought me a slow cooker. At first I thought “I can barely turn on the oven without burning the house down, how am I supposed to use this gadget?” But shortly I realized that it is one of the best investments a college student can make. 

One of my first creations in the slow cooker was autumn beef stew. This savory mixture is not only the fall season in a cup, but also a healthy dinner option to include vegetables in your diet. 

Here’s what you'll need: 

  • 2 strips bacon 

  • 1 1/2 lb. beef 

  • 1 large onion

  • 2 cups beef broth 

  • 1 cup apple cider or apple juice 

  • 5 to 6 medium sized diced potatoes 

  • 2 medium carrots 

  • 2 ribs celery 

  • 1 1/2 cups diced rutabaga

  • 1 large bay leaf (dried)

  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary

  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper 

  • Sprinkle of salt 

  • 2 tbsp. flour

  • 2 tbsp. cold water

  • 1 tbsp. parsley

First, dice the bacon into small pieces, and cut the beef into roughly 1 inch slices. Then, chop the onion (or make your roommates do this step, if you’re a crier like me). Place a skillet over medium heat, then add the bacon, beef cubes and onions. 

Combine the mixture with beef broth, apple cider, potatoes, carrots, celery, rutabaga, bay leaf, rosemary and pepper. Pour into the slow cooker and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours. This is a perfect meal for a chilly night! 

Finding delicious and diverse recipes for the fall may seem like a huge monster (mash) to tackle, but with some basic ingredients, the turning on of the oven and some friends or housemates to help out, it can be a festive way to spend the cooler days ahead!

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