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20 Cheap and Easy Meals for College Students

college students easy meals

Going to college means more independence, but part of that independence means learning to cook for yourself. While the dining hall is a nice option, it won't last forever — and let's be honest, sometimes you can get tired of the same food. But college is a busy time, and we know the last thing you want to do is make a full-blown meal after a long day of studying. So this collection of recipes contains main dish options that are quick and easy to make for beginners, and some of them can even be made in your dorm room. Plus, these recipes won't break the bank and only require a few simple, cheap ingredients. No more telling your parents you're living on instant ramen.

Sloppy Joes II

Sloppy Joes are really easy to make from scratch in a single skillet — and it will taste so much better than the canned version. Or, if you have a slow cooker, this recipe is great to make while you're in class. by the time you come home, dinner will be ready. "Much better than Manwich and SO easy! The best thing is it's made with ingredients I always have in the house and it's not a hundred ingredients either so it's fast to make," says reviewer AMERETTE.

Simple Macaroni and Cheese

Skip that box of mac and cheese and make this recipe instead. This mac and cheese tastes like it came from a restaurant, but it calls for just a handful cheap, staple ingredients. And you only need one pot! While the recipe uses elbow macaroni, you can use whatever pasta noodles you can find.

Baked Chicken Wings

Put that takeout menu down! Save some money by making your own chicken wings at home. This basic chicken wing recipe can be dressed up however you like and is ready to serve before the delivery person knocks on your door.

Tatertot Casserole

With just five ingredients, you'll have a filling and easy casserole. This recipe can be made with just about any meat, so you can use whatever you found on sale this week. "Versatile... turkey, beef, pork, lamb meats, tomato or cream-based soups work, add a layer of green beans, carrots, or corn and you have a complete meal. Vary the spices and it's a new casserole each time you make it," says home cook Joydee Mccorkle.

Shipwreck Dinner

"It's not pretty but, it's a tasty, busy-night meal. It's not 'gourmet,' but it's hot, filling, and easy. The prep time is generally limited to how fast your can opener works and how hard it is to unwrap your meat. The big bonus is that it's a complete one-pot meal with no chopping, unless you want to," says recipe creator Bcsgibson. You can also make different variations by adding Rotel, frozen fajita veggies, and taco seasoning or by using Italian seasoning and mozzarella — the sky is the limit with this recipe!

Broccoli, Rice, Cheese, and Chicken Casserole

This casserole recipe gives you a delicious, well-rounded meal in under an hour. And to save even more time, and money, use a rotisserie chicken. Reviewers say this recipe makes a lot, so you can have leftovers for a while — or if you don't want leftovers, cut the recipe in half.

Baked Garlic Parmesan Chicken

"A wonderful baked chicken recipe that's quick and easy! Using just a few handy ingredients, create a delicious main dish that also makes great leftovers — if there are any! Serve with a salad and pasta or rice for a quick, scrumptious dinner," says recipe contributor Karen.

Emily's Excellent Taco Casserole

Ready for the easiest Taco Tuesday dish? Try this versatile taco casserole. This recipe uses vegetarian chili, but reviewers like to use regular chili or shredded chicken. You can easily omit or add any ingredients you want, such as more veggies, cheese, or guacamole.

How to Make a Tuna Melt

Canned tuna is an especially easy, cheap option for college students. And this recipe dresses it up so you'd never know the meal only cost you a couple bucks. Plus, reviewers say this recipe is even great for people who don't like tuna.

Buttered Noodles

This four-ingredient recipe is about as cheap and easy as it gets. "These noodles are just down-home awesome. My mom would make this growing up, I would make this a lot in college, and I still make it every now and then when I'm looking for something simple to make. These noodles are so versatile. You could easily tweak this with ingredients you like. I sometimes add crushed red pepper, other times I add dried minced garlic or fresh minced herbs," says Allrecipes Allstar France C .

Baked Chicken Nuggets

Why hit the drive-thru when you can just as easily make chicken nuggets at home? And they're healthier than if you would get them from a fast food joint. Serve these chicken nuggets with your favorite dipping sauce and French fries. "These were very flavorful and probably the best chicken nuggets I ever made. Came out of the oven tender and moist with a nice crunch to the topping," says reviewer Shirley Orzulak Voigt.

Philly Steak Sandwich

Impress your friends with this easy Philly Steak Sandwich that is loaded with meat and vegetables. Simply sauté your meat and veggies, layer them on rolls with cheese, and broil them in the oven until cheese is melted. You can buy steak that is already pre-cut to save some extra time.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

This classic three-ingredient grilled cheese is perfect served with tomato soup. If you want a crispy sandwich, reviewers recommend using mayo on the outside instead of butter. "Yes this is truly a classic. I have made it many times. Feel free to use any type of bread and any cheese you have on hand instead of Cheddar," says home cook JUSTCYN.

Easy Tuna Casserole

This easy, five-ingredient tuna casserole will remind you of home. Reviewers suggest adding an extra can of tuna and a bag of frozen peas for a perfectly well-rounded meal. "This recipe is perfect! I am the worst cook in the world and even I could manage this! Seriously tasty surprisingly easy and a new favorite for sure," says home cook Canadian Jen.

Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Elevate your traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich by grilling it for a few minutes. This recipe is as simple as it sounds, and you don't even have to measure any of the ingredients — just spread the amounts you like. Some things reviewers like to use include crunchy peanut butter, cinnamon raisin bread, raspberry jam, and marshmallow fluff for extra fun flavor.

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Making your own chicken pot pie is as easy as, well, pie! This five-ingredient chicken pot pie is made with store-bought pre-made ingredients, like frozen pie crust and frozen veggies, and you can also use a rotisserie chicken to save even more time. Some reviewers like to add extra vegetables and potatoes to make this pot pie more filling.

Quick and Easy Goulash

This hearty goulash is perfect after a long day of classes, and it only takes 30 minutes to prepare. Some reviewers like to use Italian sausage instead of ground beef and recommend pre-cooking the onion with the meat.

Dorm Room Chili Mac

"As a college student I fully appreciate quick and inexpensive meals. This one is a winner because it combines chili and mac and cheese, two items I always have on hand. Like another reviewer, I too used Campbell Chunky Firehouse chili since I love spicy chili, and for the shredded cheese topping I used a Mexican blend. Good stuff," says reviewer MBKRH.

Ramen Noodle Soup

Take your ramen noodle packet to the next level with this soup. You can add frozen vegetables and chicken to make this ramen soup a heartier meal. "Wow! I had never thought to add all this goodness to ramen. Used fresh veggies I had on hand. I also put fresh spinach in the bottom of my bowl before adding soup. This is such a fast, easy meal. Perfect when you are in a time crunch but still need to eat," says home cook Cindi N Dan Unruh.

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

If you have a slow cooker, you're going to want to try these five-ingredient buffalo chicken sandwiches. These sandwiches are so easy to prepare and taste like buffalo chicken wings on a bun. Plus, this is a great recipe for tailgating or having friends over for dinner.

More Inspiration

  • 50 Easy Recipes for College Students
  • 8 Ways to Teach Teens How to Feed Themselves in College

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college students easy meals

27 Easy Recipes Every College Student Should Know

Tired of the dining hall? We’ve rounded up our best shortcut, low-ingredient, make-ahead and dorm-friendly ideas.

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Our Easiest Ideas for College Students

For many, college means learning independence, including in the kitchen. Living away from home is a great opportunity to explore different cuisines, develop culinary skills, master a few easy recipes and gain confidence in cooking for yourself. So, fill up the mini fridge and stock up on dorm-room essentials —we’ve rounded up recipes that coax big flavors out of short ingredient lists , use approachable techniques and give you dietary value to boot. For instance, this delicious breakfast takes 10 minutes, and you’ll only have to wash one pan afterward! Ham, cheese and baby spinach are used here, but you can swap them out for your favorite omelet fillings.

Get the Recipe: Tortilla Breakfast Wrap

Microwave Mac and Cheese

This from-scratch mac and cheese cooks in one bowl, and you don't have to boil the macaroni or cook the cheese sauce separately. Plus, it's ready in less than half an hour. A blend of American and Jack cheeses makes the sauce smooth and tangy.

Get the Recipe: Microwave Mac and Cheese

Microwave Potato

A fully loaded baked potato can make for a hearty meal, but what college student has an hour to wait for a spud to cook?! This recipe yields a moist, steamy, fluffy potato with crispy skin in a fraction of the time.

Get the Recipe: Microwave Potato

5-Ingredient Chicken Pesto Soup

Premade pesto delivers tons of herbal flavor in this 5-ingredient dish. The first step is simmering the chicken thighs in broth for 40 minutes, so you can study (or watch TV) while you wait. Then, simply shred the chicken, add it in with the spinach, and stir in some pesto.

Get the Recipe: 5-Ingredient Chicken Pesto Soup

Overnight Oats

Overnight oats surged in popularity a few years ago, and it’s easy to see why. They only take five minutes of prep, they’re super customizable and they’re nutritious—a breakfast trifecta! Not to mention, you can carry the jar with you if you’re rushing out the door. Registered dietician Min Kwon will get you started with this recipe, which is really a scaffold to help you choose your favorite ingredients and perfect your milk-to-oat ratio.

Get the Recipe: Overnight Oats

Egg-and-Kimchi Rice Bowls

This quick, satisfying meal was inspired by the Korean rice dish bibimbap. Pre-cooked brown rice saves time, while eggs and bacon add satisfying, salty protein. Garnish with creamy avocado, sliced scallions and a simple, homemade kimchi sauce for a bowl of rich, tangy goodness.

Get the Recipe: Egg-and-Kimchi Rice Bowls

One-Pot Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce

This pasta recipe looks pretty, and it’s hard to mess up. The one-pot design means you add all of your ingredients to the pot, bring it to a boil, and stir until it comes together. Fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic are the stars of this dish.

Get the Recipe: One-Pot Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Rice Cooker Pancake

If your dorm allows you to have a rice cooker, then you’re in luck because you can use it for more than just rice. For a fun treat, try making this spongy, Japanese-style pancake!

Get the Recipe: Rice Cooker Pancake

Gnocchi Pesto Pasta Salad

This easy spin on pasta salad uses store-bought gnocchi and two cups of vegetables. Just cook the gnocchi, green beans and peas until tender, then mix with pesto, mayo, Parmesan, salt and pepper. It makes a quick side at dinner or for lunch the next day!

Get the Recipe: Gnocchi Pesto Pasta Salad

Hummus and Grilled Vegetable Wrap

This vegan recipe is a fast, convenient way to eat your veggies. You’ll fill a whole-wheat wrap with hummus, toasted pine nuts, grilled zucchini and fresh bell pepper, spinach, onions and mint. The combination of fresh and cooked vegetables has great nutritional value! This wrap also makes a great lunch since it’s easy to pack and carry with you.

Get the Recipe: Hummus and Grilled Vegetable Wrap

Microwave S'mores Mug Cakes

You only need a small amount of each ingredient to create this decadent chocolate, graham cracker, marshmallow treat—making it the ideal baking recipe for college students who don't have a full kitchen or lots of storage for ingredients. Plus, it cooks up in the microwave in a matter of minutes—and makes just two, individual mug cakes.

Get the Recipe: Microwave S'mores Mug Cakes

Shortcut Dan-Dan Noodles

This clever recipe is another way to dress up instant ramen. The secret to creating bold flavor with few ingredients? Pickle juice. Yep, bread and butter pickle brine adds sweetness, saltiness and acidity to the sauce. All you have to do is pop open a jar.

Get the Recipe: Shortcut Dan-Dan Noodles

Kale and Apple Salad

Sick of the dining hall salad bar? Say goodbye to wilted Romaine lettuce and hello to this elegant kale recipe. It only uses five main ingredients: Kale serves as the base, dates and Honeycrisp apple chunks add sweetness, toasted almonds add crunch and grated Pecorino adds savory, umami flavor. Complete it with the simplest homemade dressing ever—lemon juice, olive oil and salt — and you’ll have a new favorite way to eat your veggies.

Kale and Apple Salad — Meatless Monday

Frozen Fruit Smoothies

Smoothies are a quick, portable and delicious way to add more fruit to your diet. While you can make a smoothie however you want, this berry-banana recipe is a great place to start—hundreds of reviewers can vouch for it!

Get the Recipe: Frozen Fruit Smoothies

Ham, Apple and Cheese Quesadilla

Quesadilla meets ham and cheese sandwich in this inventive, healthy recipe. Whole wheat tortillas are brushed with mustard and apple butter, then filled with ham, cheese and red onion. Garnish with apple slices tossed in lemon juice and cinnamon. It’s quick, nutritious and sure to get you out of a rut!

Get the Recipe: Ham, Apple and Cheese Quesadilla

Sausage and Peppers Sheet Pan Dinner

Sheet pan dinners are great because the meat and vegetables cook at the same time, totally hands-off. This variation takes the fuss out of making sausage and peppers—no grill required and no need to tend the vegetables as they soften. You’ll give the onions a five-minute head start, then add the peppers and sausage and stick the pan back in the oven for 25 minutes. Serve on a hoagie roll for a complete meal with minimal work.

Get the Recipe: Sausage and Peppers Sheet Pan Dinner

Three Bean and Beef Chili

Chili is an easy meal to make spontaneously because it uses lots of canned ingredients. That means you can stock your cabinets and save on time, money and trips to the grocery store. This recipe uses three types of canned beans (black, kidney and pinto), plus canned tomatoes and part of a can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. You’ll round it out with two fresh vegetables and some ground beef. This recipe also makes a big batch (10 cups!), so you can freeze your leftovers for a quick meal down the road, or better yet, invite your roommates and friends over!

Get the Recipe: Three Bean and Beef Chili

Rice Cooker Mac and Cheese

Rice cookers also work for pasta! You can make this easy mac and cheese recipe in a rice cooker instead of on the stove.

Get the Recipe: Rice Cooker Mac and Cheese

Mustard-Maple Roasted Salmon

This five-ingredient salmon recipe is glazed with an unexpected combination of Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, maple syrup and fresh cilantro. It’s sweet, savory, bright and creamy all in one, and it all comes together in 20 minutes.

Get the Recipe: Mustard-Maple Roasted Salmon

10-Minute Chicken, Corn and Kimchi Ramen

Now, onto dinner. If you’re sick of instant ramen, throw out those flavor packets and use the noodles for this recipe instead! This 10-minute dinner includes vegetables (baby spinach and frozen corn) and protein (premade rotisserie chicken), plus kimchi for plenty of flavor. Garnish with fresh scallions and another pantry favorite: nori!

Get the Recipe: 10-Minute Chicken, Corn and Kimchi Ramen

Hotdish (Tater Tot Casserole)

If you like cooking for friends, hotdish is also a great meal to have in your back pocket. The Minnesotan tater tot casserole mainly uses frozen and canned ingredients, so all you really need to do to prep is cook the onions and ground beef together. If you don’t have a baking dish, you can buy a pack of disposable aluminum ones.

Get the Recipe: Hotdish (Tater Tot Casserole)

Microwave Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

This hearty breakfast dish is packed with fiber—making a healthy start possible any day of the week.

Get the Recipe: Microwave Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Glazed Chicken and Broccoli Sheet Pan Dinner

Or, try this chicken, potato and broccoli sheet pan dinner. You’ll get started with the chicken and potatoes, then add the broccoli. Keep things simple by glazing the chicken with premade teriyaki and seasoning the vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper. There’s nothing better than a lazy, balanced meal.

Get the Recipe: Glazed Chicken and Broccoli Sheet Pan Dinner

Vegetable Egg Fried Rice

Jet Tila’s Vegetable Egg Fried Rice is perfect for learning the technique behind fried rice. The ingredient list is a little longer, but it’ll ensure that your rice is flavorful and filling. Once you get the hang of the basics, you can customize your fried rice and use up the ingredients you have on hand.

Get the Recipe: Vegetable Egg Fried Rice

Peanut Butter Smoothie Bowl

Or, if you prefer, you can turn a smoothie into a filling meal of its own. It’s not more difficult than making a normal smoothie—just throw your ingredients into a blender, pour into a bowl and add your favorite toppings! You can finish this peanut butter smoothie bowl with chopped almonds, sliced bananas, cacao nibs, chia seeds or whatever else you can think of!

Get the Recipe: Peanut Butter Smoothie Bowl

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp and Grits

Don’t feel intimidated—this recipe is way easier than it looks. Instant grits do the heavy lifting while the shrimp cooks in butter in garlic. Garnish with lemon, parsley, salt and pepper. If you’ve got someone you want to impress with your cooking skills, this is the recipe to make.

Get the Recipe: Lemon-Garlic Shrimp and Grits

The Best Stovetop Mac and Cheese

If you’re stressed over school and craving the comfort of mac and cheese, don’t reach for the boxed stuff. Whip this up instead! With an additional 10 minutes of effort and a few more ingredients, you’ll end up with a pot of mac and cheese that you can actually be proud of. Plus, this recipe makes 6 servings at once, so you can hang onto the leftovers.

Get the Recipe: The Best Stovetop Mac and Cheese

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Easy meals for college students.

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In today’s post: Find 50 easy meals for college students. These are simple meal ideas that don’t take lots of time or ingredients, but still taste great!

I am sending three kids off to college this fall! They’ll all be in apartments and cooking for themselves and they’ve been asking me for a list of easy meal ideas they can make in their college kitchens. I started by googling ideas and quickly found that most lists of college meals have some problems:

  • most are just links to recipes that make 4-6 servings, which is NOT practical for a college student
  • many require a full pantry of ingredients and seasonings, which is also NOT practical for a college student
  • many take over half an hour to make (which, again, is NOT…)

So I put together my own list of easy meal ideas for college students. These are things students can put together quickly using a small number of ingredients making just ONE serving at a time. But they all taste better than Ramen! And if you do want to cook for your whole apartment occasionally, I’ve included links to my favorite easy recipes everyone will love at the end of the post.

Collage pictures of easy meals; text: 50 easy meals for college students

Before you head to college, make sure you have some basic cooking skills: learn how to brown ground beef, how to cook chicken in the skillet or oven, and how to make eggs a couple different ways. Then consider these two tips to make meal planning and cooking at college simpler:

Cooking at College Tip #1: Embrace the Freezer

Before we get to the list, you need to know the number one tip for cooking at college, which is to use your freezer. Keeping meat and veggies on hand in the freezer allows you to use just what you want for one meal and save the rest. Otherwise, you’ll end up eating the exact same things days in a row OR throwing away items you forgot to use up. I recommend keeping a stock of the following in your freezer to make putting together meals super quick and easy:

  • Bag of diced frozen onions/peppers
  • Bags of other frozen vegetables you like
  • Cooked rotisserie chicken that you’ve diced into small cubes and then frozen in a gallon size ziplock (check Costco or Walmart for the best value on rotisserie chickens). Just pull all the meat off the bones and dice it up, then freeze in a gallon ziplock. OR to save money, cook your own boneless skinless chicken breasts in a skillet, oven, or slow cooker, and dice and freeze once cooled.
  • Cooked ground beef. Buy a couple pounds of ground beef and brown it in a skillet. Drain any grease and let it cool, then pour it into a gallon size ziplock and freeze it in a flat layer. That will make it easy to break apart once it’s frozen so you can pull out as much as you want to use at once.
  • Frozen chicken tenders (uncooked). Tenders are much smaller than chicken breasts so they are easier to cook from frozen: just place in a skillet with a few tablespoons of water and cover. Cook on medium high, flipping once and seasoning with salt and pepper until they are no longer pink inside.
  • Lots of other things can be stored in the freezer as well! Like making pizza but worried you won’t use a whole pack of pepperoni? Just keep it in the freezer. Not sure you’ll eat the whole pack of tortillas? Take out half and freeze to use next week.

Frozen cooked meats can be defrosted in the microwave. Use the defrost setting for 20 seconds at a time until meat is defrosted and ready to add to your recipe. Or, you can heat the meat through in a small skillet with a little water to keep it moist, and add any seasonings while heating (like taco seasoning) if desired.

College Cooking Tip #2: Eat What You Have

When you live at home, you might be used to having a fully stocked pantry and fridge full of a variety of foods. Once you move to college, you’ll be working with a much smaller range of items. That means it’s important to start learning to eat what you have on hand in different ways. Lots of the meal ideas below combine similar basic ingredients in different ways so you can eat the same ingredients a couple of times without feeling like you’re having the same meal.

It’s important to include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet – just buy a couple at a time and eat them until they are gone. For example, if you buy a cucumber, chop it up and put it in a salad, then a sandwich, then include it in some pasta, etc., until you’ve eaten the entire thing. An avocado can go on toast, in a quesadilla, on top of nachos, in a sandwich, etc. Get used to eating what you have before you buy new items, and always try to add a fresh fruit or veg to your meal. Apples, bananas, and carrots are really inexpensive so you can always have some on hand.

College Meal Ideas: Meals in a Tortilla

Tortillas are a wonderful staple for college meal ideas! If kept in the fridge they’ll stay good longer then bread, and can be quickly stuffed with all sorts of different fillings. Try one of these ideas:

chicken quesadilla with salsa

Bean and cheese burrito: Spread a layer of refried beans on a tortilla and top with taco sauce or salsa and grated cheddar cheese. Microwave in 30 second intervals until cheese is melted and beans are hot; roll up and eat. Alternately, you can top it with a second tortilla and grill it on a large skillet to make a quesadilla. Optional add on: sprinkle chopped onion on with the cheese before cooking. 

Soft Tacos: Cook 1 pound of ground beef and mix in water and taco seasoning according to the seasoning packet directions. Make tacos by layering ground beef, cheese, salsa, and lettuce or salad mix in a tortilla. Freeze the taco meat you don’t use in single servings.

Ground Beef Burrito: Add leftover taco meat (defrosted) to a bean burrito. Optional add ins: cooked rice, cooked onion and peppers, avocado, sliced tomatoes, ranch dressing

Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla: Spread a thin layer of ranch dressing on a tortilla and sprinkle with taco season or chili powder and cumin. Top with cooked chicken and grated cheese. Fold over or top with a second tortilla and toast on a large skillet until cheese is melted and chicken is warm. Optional: melt butter in the skillet first for a toastier outside

Chicken Ranch Wrap: Place cooked chicken, iceberg salad mix or lettuce, sliced carrot/cucumber/tomato and shredded cheese in a tortilla. Top with ranch dressing, then roll up and eat. Optional: add chopped bacon

Turkey Tortilla Rollup: Spread cream cheese across a tortilla and then top with sliced turkey and/or ham, sliced tomato and onion. Roll up and eat. Substitute slices of other cheese for cream cheese if desired

Crunchwrap Tortilla Hack: Make a simple version of the Taco Bell Crunchwrap with this recipe

Pizza Quesadilla: Spread spaghetti or pizza sauce on a tortilla, then top with mozzarella cheese and pizza topping of your choice. Fold closed and grill like a quesadilla.

Greek Chicken Wrap: Place cooked chicken, lettuce mix, sliced tomato and feta cheese in a tortilla. Top with ranch dressing, greek yogurt, or hummus. Tip: mix leftover feta cheese and tomatoes into scrambled eggs for your next meal

Nachos: Ok, nachos aren’t in a tortilla, but they’re close enough, and they’re a great way to use up leftovers. Layer any cooked meat on tortilla chips and add things like beans, corn, tomatoes, onions, avocado, etc. Grate cheese over the top and microwave 30-60 seconds until cheese is melted.

Easy Egg Meals

Eggs are a staple for college meals! They’re super inexpensive and last a long time, plus they’re a great source of protein. (And you’ll need to keep some on hand if you want to make brownies!)

breakfast sandwich

Homemade Egg Sandwich: Layer a fried egg with a slice of cheese and a cooked sausage patty on a toasted english muffin. Options: use sliced ham or cooked bacon instead of the sausage. If you like breakfast sandwiches, it’s worth investing in one of these super handy breakfast sandwich makers !

Egg burrito: Cook a frozen hash brown patty according to package directions, or microwave or heat in a skillet. Scramble a couple eggs, adding in a sliced sausage link, chopped ham, or cooked bacon. Combine cooked hashbrown patty, eggs, meat, and cheese in a tortilla, adding salsa if desired.

Easy Tortilla Egg Roll: This is a GENIUS method for making a quick meal that’s a cross between an omelet and a burrito. Click here for the recipe

Omelet: An omelet is a great way to use up leftover meat and veggies! Beat some eggs and cook them slowly in a buttered pan until puffed and almost cooked through. Top with leftover (cooked) meat and vegetables, plus cheese if desired. Fold it in half and eat. Click here for a single serving Western omelet recipe

Avocado Toast w/Egg: Toast whole grain bread and top with half an avocado (sliced) and sliced tomato. Top with one fried or poached egg. Optional: smash the avocado up with some salsa if you prefer for extra flavor.

Egg in a Hole: Melt a little butter in a small skillet. Tear out a hole in the center of a slice of bread and place the bread in the skillet. Crack an egg into the hole and top with salt and pepper. Cook until white of egg is set, then flip to toast the other side.

Single Serve French Toast: Crack an egg into a small bowl and add a splash of milk. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon vanilla and whisk until smooth. Transfer to wider container and dip 2 pieces of bread in the egg mixture, then cook on a skillet 3 minutes or so per side until cooked through. Serve with sliced banana and yogurt (or butter and syrup).

Breakfast Nachos:   Eggs, beans, avocado, salsa, cheese and whatever else you have on hand on top of crunchy tortilla chips! Click here for the recipe

Easy Pasta for One

Pasta is a perfect college meal because it’s super cheap and you can make as much or as little as you want! Keep a box or two of noodles in your pantry and meatballs or cooked ground beef in your freezer, then all you’ll need is a jar of sauce to put together and easy spaghetti dinner. Check out these other ideas, like homemade mac and cheese for one and ways to upgrade instant ramen noodles!

spaghetti and meatballs

Spaghetti + Meatballs: Boil a handful of spaghetti noodles. Meanwhile, put a few frozen meatballs in a small saucepan and cover with jarred spaghetti sauce. Bring to a simmer and cover until meatballs are warmed through.

Cheese Ravioli: Buy either dried cheese ravioli in the pasta section, or refrigerated or frozen ravioli and boil according to package directions. Drain and mix in some jarred spaghetti sauce and heat through.  Optional: add some cooked ground beef for ravioli + meat sauce

Easy Mac + Cheese: Make a single serving of homemade macaroni and cheese in about the same time as it takes to make a the boxed version – it’ll taste so much better! Recipe here

Buttered Pasta w/Parm: Make a bowl of delicious pasta with butter, parmesan, and pepper in 10 minutes. It’s simple, but filling and delicious! Add cooked chicken if desired. Recipe here

Better Ramen: Upgrade your ramen packet by adding vegetables and an egg. Recipe here

Ramen Yaki Soba: Boil ramen noodles as directed, then fry them up with whatever vegetables and meat you happen to have on hand. Recipe here

Baked Potatoes

Baked potatoes are another inexpensive option for easy meals you can make at college. If you like them, it’s definitely worth ordering one of these microwave potato bags which help you make fluffy, baked potatoes in your microwave in minutes. Stuff your potatoes with a variety of toppings for an easy meal.

baked potato with chili and cheese

Classic Baked Potato: Top your potato with sour cream, butter, salt and pepper. Add cooked bacon if you have some.

Chili Potato: Bake a potato in the microwave. Meanwhile, warm up canned chili in a small saucepan until hot. Split your baked potato and top with chili and grated cheese.

BBQ Chicken Potato: While you are microwaving your potato, warm up some cooked leftover chicken in a small saucepan with some barbecue sauce. Top the potato with bbq chicken and cheese.

Broccoli Cheddar Potato: Steam fresh or frozen broccoli to top a baked potato, or purchase a bag of frozen broccoli in cheddar sauce and heat that up as directed on the package.

Stuffed Sweet Potato: Sweet potatoes are also inexpensive and easy to cook, but pack a bigger nutritional punch! Get the recipe here – note this recipe calls for baking the potato in the oven, but you can microwave sweet potatoes too.

salad with chicken and vegetables

BBQ Chicken Salad: Warm up some frozen cooked chicken with BBQ sauce in a saucepan until heated through, or cook a couple of chicken tenders and top with BBQ sauce. Chop lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, or any other vegetables you have on hand. Top with BBQ chicken, grated cheese, and ranch dressing.

Taco Salad: Chop lettuce. Top with leftover taco meat, beans, salsa, corn, avocado, etc., and top with ranch dressing if desired. Optional swap: use canned chili instead of meat and beans

Chef Salad: Slice up any lunch meat you have, like turkey and ham, with cheese, a hard boiled egg, and any vegetables you have on hand. Serve on chopped lettuce with your favorite dressing.

Pasta Salad: Boil desired amount of noodles. Meanwhile, cook a couple chicken strips or chicken tenders (or defrost frozen cooked chicken). Chop any vegetables you have on hand, like tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, onion, etc., and dice some cheddar cheese. Mix together pasta, chicken, veggies, cheese and whatever salad dressing you have and serve warm or cold.

Sandwiches are the ultimate quick meal! Keep some whole grain bread on hand – it’s more nutritious and lasts longer than white bread. You can even freeze half the loaf if you don’t think you’ll eat it all before it gets stale. 

avocado toast with hummus

Peanut Butter and…: Look beyond the jelly for other items that pair well with peanut butter for a slightly more exciting sandwiches. Our favorite combines whole grain bread with peanut butter, sliced banana, and a tiny sprinkle of chocolate chips. Options: try peanut butter and apple slices, it’s a delicious combo

Open Face Avocado and Hummus: Spread whole grain bread with hummus, then top with sliced avocado and sliced tomatoes

Pizza sandwich: Spread pizza or spaghetti sauce on a slice of bread, then top with mozzarella cheese and any other desired toppings. Top with another slice of bread and cook in a skillet (with a little butter if desired) like a grilled cheese sandwich.

Sandwich Melts: Layer your favorite sliced lunch meat (turkey, ham or roast beef) with your favorite sliced cheese in between two pieces of hearty bread. Melt a little butter in a skillet and toast your sandwich on both sides until the cheese is melted. Options: add mustard or pickles for extra flavor, or cooked bacon to make your melt extra delicious

Pesto Chicken or Turkey: If you like pesto, it’s worth keeping a jar in your fridge. It will last a long time and you can use it on pasta, pizza, or in a sandwich. For a delish sandwich, toast bread and spread with pesto and a little mayo. Top with cooked chicken or sliced turkey, plus sliced tomato, lettuce, cheese and cooked bacon (if you have it).

Chicken Salad: Combine cubed rotisserie chicken with some chopped veggies (cucumber, celery, and onion are traditional, but you can add whatever you have on hand) and a quarter of an apple, chopped. Stir in enough mayonnaise to moisten and season with salt and pepper (use lemon pepper and seasoning salt if you have it). Serve on bread or crackers. Optional: add raisins or Craisins for a little extra sweetness

Egg Salad Sandwich: Peel two hard boiled eggs and place in a bowl. Use a fork to mash the eggs with enough mayo to moisten them, plus a small amount of mustard and a couple shakes of season salt. Serve on whole grain or white bread.

Homemade Lunchables (Cracker Sandwiches): Don’t stress if you’re out of bread but want to eat up the rest of that sliced turkey – just find some crackers in the pantry and make yourself a homemade lunchable. Sliced turkey, sliced cheese, and crackers make a great easy meal that’s easy to pack and take up to campus. Optional add ons: pepperoni, sliced tomato, pieces of cooked bacon

Breakfast for Any Meal

One of my favorite meals is breakfast for dinner, because breakfast food is way too good to only be limited to one meal a day! Plus it’s generally quick and easy to prepare. We’ve already covered egg dishes, but here are some more easy breakfast meals you can make at college for lunch or dinner.

Overnight oats in a jar with banana and strawberry slices

Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a filling meal that doesn’t cost much, and can be delicious! Add peanut butter and bananas for a bowl you’ll want to eat for lunch or dinner. Find the recipe here

Overnight Oats: Make your life even easier by mixing up your bowl of oatmeal the night before and keeping it in the fridge. Find four tasty varieties here

3 Ingredient Breakfast Cookies: Breakfast cookies are nutritious, filling, and cook! Plus they’re freezer friendly so you can make a batch and freeze the ones you don’t eat right away. Get the recipe here

Greek Yogurt Parfait: Layer Greek yogurt with sliced fruit (bananas, berries, peaches, etc.) and granola or cereal (it tastes great with Cheerios!)

Single Serve Instant Oatmeal Pancakes: Combine one instant oatmeal packet (your favorite flavor) with 1/3 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, then stir in 1/4 cup milk and one egg. Cook on a griddle, flipping when the bubbles on top start to pop. Makes three pancakes.

Cherry Berry Smoothie: Combine Vanilla Greek yogurt with about a cup of frozen cherry berry blend and two large handfuls of spinach (keep the bag in the freezer so it doesn’t go bad!). Add a dash of chocolate protein powder if you have it on hand.

Healthy Pina Colada Smoothie: Combine Toasted Coconut Vanilla Greek yogurt with frozen pineapple and one peeled orange. Add two handfuls of spinach and blend. Have a piece of whole grain toast to round out the meal.

Heat + Eat Ideas

When college life gets really busy, you’ll want to have a few things on hand that don’t require any thought to put together. Here are a few ideas for super easy, heat + eat meals:

Potstickers: Frozen potstickers can be cooked in a skillet with just water and a little nonstick spray. They’re stuffed with vegetables and chicken or pork, so even though they’re often served as an appetizer, they make a great meal! Most packages include a dipping sauce.

Canned Soup: It can be a good idea to keep a couple cans of soup on hand for days when you need a quick meal. There are SO many varieties of canned soup now. Many of them are both tasty and healthy, and they only take a few minutes to warm up.

Kodiak Cake Flapjack or Muffin Cups: These are little cups that you can add water to, stir, and microwave, for an instant muffin, and the great thing is that they’re packed with protein. Add a fruit, and you can call this a meal! They are definitely more expensive than making your own, but can be really handy in a pinch.

Frozen Veggie Steamer Packets: Check the frozen vegetable aisle for packets of vegetables and potatoes in a variety of sauces – you’ll find offerings from a couple different brands that you can heat up in your microwave in minutes. It’s a great way to get some extra veggies in your diet, and the addition of potatoes helps it feel more like a meal.

collage of food photos; text: 50 easy meal ideas for college students

BONUS: Easy Recipes that will give you leftovers

Alright, that’s more than 50 easy, single serving meals for college students! But hey, every once in a while you might want to cook something for your whole apartment, or make a meal that will give you leftovers for the week. So here are some of our favorite meals that are easy enough to make in a college kitchen and don’t require lots of ingredients:

Chicken Pot Pie Muffins

Cream Chicken and Rice Soup

French Onion Chicken and Rice

Chicken Burrito Skillet

Perfect Homemade Pancakes

5 Ingredient Pizza Pasta Bake

Meet Autumn

Hello there! I’m a busy mom of five who loves to make things. Crafts, recipes, sewing, holiday projects: I’ve tried them all, and you can too! I love EASY projects anyone can make.

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This creamy chicken and rice casserole is comfort food at it's finest! Only five ingredients and five minutes of prep.

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Posted on 8/28/23 at 3:38 pm

I was not a fan of cooking at college (I didn’t enjoy it, really) but tortillas were something I was eating almost every day. It would be beneficial to use positive words to describe students when motivating them to prepare their own meals.

Posted on 8/18/23 at 9:32 am

This is a FABULOUS list, Autumn!!! Do you offer this in a printable form? I would be happy to pay for it.

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38 College & Dorm-Friendly Recipes

These classic and comfort food eats are better than any cheat sheet. 😜

Headshot of Camille Lowder

Learning to juggle a whole new class and life schedule all on your own can be tough, so we’ve included some easy recipes here that make the most of simple ingredients and cooking methods, like our TikTok ramen (seriously, get on the everything bagel seasoning train), our black bean tostadas , our mug brownie , or our flatbread pizza . Other recipes, like our PB&J overnight oats or our egg muffins , take a bit of forethought, but once you’ve made them, you’ll be set for breakfasts all week long.

Speaking of being set for the whole week, it can be annoying to always have to spend mental energy on figuring out what to eat. That’s part of the plight of being an adult, so set yourself up for success by learning to meal prep . Set aside time for cooking a few times a week, and make recipes (or components of recipes) you can eat in the days to come. Check out our warm tahini ramen noodles , our sheet-pan chicken fajitas , our black bean and corn salad , our breakfast burritos (you can freeze them!), our chicken salad sandwich , or our sheet pan sausage & vegetables for ideas. Invest in some good reusable containers (or just use leftovers from takeout!), then fill them up. You’ll always have something tasty to grab, which is one less stressful thing off your plate.

Everyone in college gets homesick at one point or another, and we think the best way to combat it is to make comfort foods that remind you of home. We’ve included some of our favorites, like spaghetti & meatballs , meatloaf , mac & cheese , and grown-up spaghetti-Os , but ask your families for theirs before you head off to college, then make them whenever you could use a boost. These recipes often make a ton of food, so you can make some new friends by sharing them with dorm-mates who could use a bit of comfort too.

Want more easy recipe inspiration? Check out our best beginner friendly recipes for two (great for date night!), our top healthy lunches , and our favorite no-bake desserts .

Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas

sheet pan chicken fajitas

For these fajitas you simply toss all of the ingredients—chicken and vegetables—in an easy marinade of heart-healthy avocado oil and taco spices like cumin and chili powder and then bake it all together on one sheet pan . 😍 Serve with tortillas and guac for the easiest dinner ever.

Get the Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas recipe .

Breakfast Burritos

breakfast burrito

There's no ONE right way to make a breakfast burrito, but if you follow our easy rules, you're guaranteed perfect results (that can cure any hangover!) every time.

Get the Breakfast Burritos recipe .

French Bread Pizza

Craving homemade pizza , but don’t want to deal with finicky pizza dough ? We get it, that stuff can be tricky. Skip it altogether, and grab the nearest loaf of French bread instead. The loaf makes for a delicious pizza “crust” that will get crispy on the outside while staying nice and soft on the inside. It’s truly the best of both worlds.

Get the French Bread Pizza recipe .

Brownie In A Mug

Got an urgent brownie craving while doing some late night studying? This easy mug brownie is ultra-fudgy and ready in minutes. It's rich enough for two people, but it's okay not to share. 😏

Get the Brownie In A Mug recipe .

Black Bean And Corn Salad

This easy salad is full of protein and flavor and comes together quickly. Eat it on its own or with tortilla chips, tucked into tacos or burritos , or mixed with rice . The honey-lime dressing is killer on everything.

Get the Black Bean And Corn Salad recipe .

TikTok Ramen

Have fun customizing these ramen noodles with your favorite veggies and toppings. Try using frozen peas or halved snow peas in place of the bell pepper and carrot. Skip the egg and top with seared chicken or tofu , and try the whole thing topped with a smattering of everything bagel seasoning .

Get the TikTok Ramen recipe .

Warm Tahini Ramen Noodles

This quick and satisfying meal lands somewhere between savory instant ramen and creamy peanut noodles . Throw in your favorite raw veggies for a dish that's healthy, filling, and delicious. (The trifecta!) For a little extra oomph, whisk in part of a ramen flavor packet little by little, tasting and adjusting along the way.

Get the Warm Tahini Ramen Noodles recipe .

Grown-Up Spaghetti-Os and Meatballs

These SpaghettiOs and meatballs mimic the canned pasta -and- marinara delight you loved as a kid, but with sophisticated upgrades for adult flavor preferences. It's the perfect meal when you're feeling overwhelmed by all the newness from college, but don't want to just eat dinner out of a can.

Get the Grown-Up Spaghetti-Os and Meatballs recipe .

Black Bean Tostadas

With only 5 ingredients, these black bean tostadas are the easiest and fastest meal to throw together. You can always add on additional toppings like corn salsa , avocado ranch , or endless crunchy veggies like radishes or pickled red onions , but here we keep things simple.

Get the Black Bean Tostadas recipe .

Best Classic Meatloaf

Meatloaf is an old-school recipe that everyone should know how to make. It might not be the sexiest piece of food, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and damn, is it delicious—especially in a sandwich the next day OR with a fried egg on top!

Get the Best Classic Meatloaf recipe .

Peanut Butter Overnight Oats

Overnight oats are a meal prepper's dream, perfect for a busy college student: All you do is stir together ingredients in a large bowl, let them set overnight, and then divvy up portions for the week. This PB&J twist tastes just like your favorite sandwich—top it off with a drizzle of melty peanut butter if you wanna feel a little indulgent.

Get the Peanut Butter Overnight Oats recipe .

Spaghetti and Meatballs

If you're looking for a super-simple, comforting, no-frills bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, you've come to the right place. And if you're feeling adventurous, it's also a great jumping-off point for your own version of this classic dish! Get creative with different homemade or store-bought pasta sauce and meatballs .

Get the Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe .

Ham & Cheese Pinwheels

These ham and cheese pinwheels are made easy using store-bought crescent roll dough. They're chock-full of melty cheese and savory-sweet ham, topped with fresh parsley and toasty poppy seeds for texture and flavor. Eat them for an on-the-go breakfast, lunch, or snack, or bring them as an appetizer to your next college party.

Get the Ham & Cheese Pinwheels recipe .

No-Boil Baked Chicken Pasta

An ode to baked ziti , this dish is amped up with chicken and spinach and features fun, twirly fusilli pasta rather than ziti. Unlike most baked pasta dishes, you'll skip the pot of water and instead just add more water to the baking dish. Not only does this cut down on dishes, the hands-off approach adds a little breathing room to dinnertime. Win win!

Get the No-Boil Baked Chicken Pasta recipe .

Flatbread Pizza

Homemade pizza is super-delicious, but it takes a bit of time and special attention. These flatbread pizzas come together MUCH faster, and they're just as cheesy and flavorful as the classic version. 😍

Get the Flatbread Pizza recipe .

Fried rice is a quick and delicious way to transform leftovers into something greater than the sum of its parts. Though we sometimes think of certain ingredients being typical (eggs, garlic), the only things you need to make fried rice are heat, rice , and oil. Anything else you add is up to you!

Get the Fried Rice recipe .

3 Cheese Mac & Cheese

This foolproof, homemade mac & cheese recipe is the only one you'll ever need. It starts on the stovetop, then is transferred to a baking dish and topped with panko bread crumbs that makes it *chef's kiss*.

Get the 3 Cheese Mac & Cheese recipe .

Everything Is Optional Chicken Noodle Soup

Anything goes in this comforting chicken noodle soup recipe. All you need is to fill in the blanks of this formula with your favorite ingredients, or simply with whatever you currently have on hand in your college kitchen—no additional shopping trip required!

Get the Everything Is Optional Chicken Noodle Soup recipe .

Baked Feta Pasta

This TikTok -famous recipe is genius—it's super-easy (even if you're not an expert cook) and is fancy enough for date night , but chill enough for mid-week dinner . 😍

Get the Baked Feta Pasta recipe .

Microwave Baked Potato

Is there anything more perfect than a baked potato ? Maybe only one made in the microwave instead of the oven. Topped with all your favorite ingredients, they're incredible for every meal of the day. More a fan of sweet potatoes ? You can make those in a microwave too!

Get the Microwave Baked Potato recipe .

Headshot of Camille Lowder

Camille Lowder is the digital food producer at Delish, otherwise known as our resident queen of recipe galleries. Previously, she attended the Natural Gourmet Institute for culinary school and worked at/managed a number of New York restaurants. She loves anything vegan , foods masquerading as other foods (hello, cauliflower ), and a well-used Oxford comma.

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60 Easy No-Bake Desserts

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14 Easy Meals for College Students

A hand holding a sandwich wrap.

As the running jokes go, most college students sustain themselves off a combination of saltine crackers and instant ramen. It can be hard to cook with the limited kitchen resources that dorms/college apartments provide, and even so, most college students are far too tired to cook a full-on, 20 step dinner.

Most of the time the only person you’re cooking for is yourself , so what’s the point of putting a ton of effort into meal-prep and washing dishes? It’s true that college cooking can be a challenge, but you’re bound to grow bored of pre-packaged salads and cup-a-soup.

That’s whyI have a list of easy (and mostly healthy) meals that most students can make without access to an oven or stovetop. 

Table of Contents:

  • Mason-Jarred Ramen
  • Black Bean Chili
  • Black Bean Burrito
  • Veggie/Chicken Rice Bowl
  • Air Fryer Roasted Veggies 
  • Eggplant Pizza
  • Chicken (or vegetable) Noodle Soup
  • Garlic Parmesan Potatoes
  • Air Fryer Baked Peaches
  • Mug-Cake Banana Bread 
  • Baked Apple Cinnamon Oat Cups
  •  Air Fryer Corn on the Cob
  • Air Fryer Banana Chips
  • Air Fryer Quesadillas

1) Mason-Jarred Ramen:

Even though ramen is within the college meal stereotype, it doesn’t have to be boring. This mason-jarred ramen leaves room for creativity and individual preference. It’s also much healthier than traditional cup-o-soup.

You can pretty much add whatever you want. If you like the convenience of instant noodles but hate the same flavor every time, this recipe is perfect. 

What you’ll need: 

-Rice noodles

-Shredded (cooked) chicken

-½ Bouillon cube (or about a teaspoon)

-Your choice of veggies (cabbage, corn, carrots, etc.)

-Sriracha sauce 


Add ½ tbsp of soy sauce and ½ of a bouillon cube (½ tbsp bouillon powder) to the bottom of a mason jar

Add a handful of (pre-cooked) shredded chicken to the jar

Add a handful of rice noodles on top of the chicken

Add your choice of vegetables (cabbage, corn, carrots, etc) and your desired amount of sriracha 

Store jars in the refrigerator. Once ready to eat, pour boiling water over the contents of the jar and let sit for 3-5 minutes. Enjoy!

2) Black Bean Chili:

Black bean chili is one of my favorite meals. It’s ideal for busy people. If you’re a theater kid like me, it’s perfect for that exhausting pre-performance week (affectionately called ‘hell week’). This dish is savory, flavorful, and very easy to make. The best part is, you’ll be able to eat the leftovers.

This recipe makes 4-5 servings and costs only $1.34 per meal. It keeps well in the fridge and is easy to reheat. Not to mention, there’s plenty else you can make with the leftovers.

What You’ll Need: 

-1 can of black beans 

-1 can of corn

-½  can of diced tomatoes 

-diced bell peppers (1 whole pepper will work)

-diced onions

-Chilli Powder

-Garlic powder

1-Add 1 can of black beans, 1 can of corn, and ½ can of diced tomatoes into your crockpot 

2- Add 1 tbsp of garlic powder and 1 tbsp of chili powder to the pot

3- Add in your diced onions and bell peppers (about ⅓-½ cup each will work) 

4- Turn your crockpot on to the lowest setting and let sit for 4-6 hours 

3) Black Bean Vegetable Burrito  

Like I said, there’s plenty you can make with the leftovers from your black bean chili. This burrito is similar to the Chipotle black bean burrito, but with a much cheaper price tag. ($8 for a burrito..in this economy?)

If you’ve already made your black bean chili, this meal takes less than five minutes to put together. These burritos are easy, flavorful, and satisfying. At less than $1.50 per burrito , they’re a great budget-friendly option.

What You’ll Need:

-Leftovers from your black bean chili


-(optional) cheese, sour cream

1- Reheat your leftover black bean chili in the microwave

2- Add a scoop of black bean chili onto a warmed flour tortilla  

3- Add extra toppings of your choice (sour cream, cheese, etc.

4- Wrap up the burrito and enjoy!

4) Veggie Rice Bowl:

If you like the rice bowls from Waba Grill (I think that might possibly just be a west-coast thing?) but don’t have $12.00 to spend on dinner, this recipe is perfect for you. It’s easy, fast, and delicious. T

here will also only be one pot to wash. It’s a perfect meal to piece together with leftovers from the week, and it’s incredibly cheap (about $0.31 per meal).  

-Rice (white rice works best)

-Frozen/fresh vegetables of your choice (carrots, broccoli, cabbage, etc.)

-(Optional) Pre-cooked chicken, tofu, or protein of choice

-Rice cooker

1-Add white rice to your rice cooker (the ratio of rice and water is 1 cup of rice to 1 ¾ cups of water)

2-Let the rice cook in the rice cooker for about 15 minutes

3-Add your vegetables of choice (+ pre-cooked chicken/protein of choice)

4- Let the rice and vegetables cook for another 15-20 minutes

5) Air Fryer/Convection Oven Roasted Veggies  

These roasted vegetables are crunchy, savory, and delicious. They’re effortless to make and will quickly become a go-to meal on busy days.

They pair perfectly with a sandwich or leftovers from another night, but honestly, they’re delicious enough to stand on their own. These roasted vegetables cost about $1.00 per meal and are sure to become an instant favorite.

-Your choice of vegetables (My personal choices include: carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic bulbs, potatoes, and cauliflower)

-Olive oil/Canola oil

-Seasoning of choice

-An air fryer, convection oven, regular oven, etc.

1-Coat your choice of vegetables  (My choices include: carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic bulbs, potatoes, and cauliflower) in olive oil and salt

2-Add desired seasoning to your vegetables (I like garlic and onion seasoning)

3- Place the vegetables on a baking sheet or on tin foil

4- Heat your air fryer or convection oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees celsius)

5-Bake your vegetables for 15-20 minutes or until crispy

6) Eggplant Pizza

These Mini Eggplant Pizzas are the perfect mix of sweet and savory. They’re quick, easy, and will become a staple in your meal time rotations. This recipe makes about two servings. The good news is that Eggplant Pizza can be easily reheated in the air fryer (or convection oven) for a quick and easy leftovers night.

Like all pasta-adjacent food, it’s better in the form of leftovers. They’re customizable to any taste preferences and can include any toppings you can imagine on a pizza, so the options are limitless. At a little over $2 per serving this recipe is inexpensive and absolutely delicious. 

-Eggplant (one should be fine)

-tomato sauce

-minced garlic 

-your choice of toppings 

-access to an air fryer/convection oven

1-Slice your eggplant into slim pieces 

2-Coat your eggplant slices in salt, and dried oregano

3-Bake your eggplant slices for 15 minutes at 425 degrees in order to let some of the excess moisture dry out, then remove from the oven

4-While your eggplant slices are baking, combine oregano, tomato sauce, minced garlic, and salt in a bowl

5-Place your eggplant slices on a baking pan or tin foil 

6-Pour the tomato sauce mixture over each slice 

7-Add your mozzarella cheese and any other desired ingredients on top of your eggplant slices

8-Bake your eggplant slices at 425 degrees for an additional 10-12 minutes

7) Chicken/Vegetable Noodle Soup

This (chicken) vegetable soup is the perfect, easy comfort food. It’s great for cold weather, and excellent if you want to come home to a hot meal at the end of a long day. It’s ideal to make first thing in the morning, because all you have to do is throw your ingredients into a crock pot and let them slowly cook over the course of your day.

There’s no better feeling than coming home at the end of the day without the obligation to cook dinner. This soup is delicious, easy, and best of all cheap. ($2.10 per pot, about $0.66 per serving)

-Vegetable or Chicken broth

-3 cloves of garlic

-celery powder

-diced celery  

-Angel hair noodles

-diced carrots 

-(optional) pre-cooked chicken 

1-Add your vegetable of chicken broth to your crockpot

2-Add your ½ tbsp of celery powder, and ½ tbsp of parsley to the broth

3-Dice about 2 sticks of celery and one full-sized carrot 

4-Add your diced celery, carrots, and (optional) pre-cooked chicken to the pot

5- Add one handful of angel hair noodles to the pot

6-Turn your crockpot on to low heat and cook for 6-8 hours 

8) Garlic Parmesan Potatoes:

These garlic parmesan potatoes are perfect for people who think that “two cloves” in a recipe is just a suggestion. They’re ridiculously easy and so satisfying.

Not to mention, most of the ingredients are things you probably already have around your (probably overcrowded) student housing. These garlic parmesan potatoes are easy, healthy, and cheap ($2.49 per pot) .

-2 potatoes 

-garlic cloves 

-olive oil 

-Italian seasoning

-parmesan cheese 

1-Dice about 2 potatoes into small, bite-sized cubes

2-Coat your potato slices in olive oil, Iralian seasoning, and parmesan cheese

3-Add your potatoes and garlic cloves to the crockpot

4- Turn your crock pot on to low and cook the potatoes for 5-6 hours, of for 3 hours on high

9) Air-Fryer Baked Peaches

Air fryer peaches are the perfect, 10 minute version of peach cobbler. With only 3 ingredients and a bake time of only 8 minutes, they’re the perfect quick and easy dessert (or snack).

These baked peaches are a sweet, cinnamon-y treat, perfect to top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. They’re so simple and cheap at only $1.55 per serving. 

-(optional) ice cream

1-Slice your peach in half and remove the pit

2-Add a dash of cinnamon to your peaches and drizzle the slices with honey

3-Wrap your peach slices in tin foil and place them into the air fryer

4-Bake your peach halves in the air fryer for 8-10 minutes at 380 degrees Fahrenheit 

5- (optional) Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of your peaches and enjoy!

10) Banana Bread Mug-Cake

This banana bread mug cake (mug bread?) is the perfect midnight snack. It’s great for when you’re craving something sweet and fruity but don’t want to put the effort into baking an entire loaf of bread.

All you need is one banana and a handful of other common household ingredients. This bread is perfect to top with walnuts, chocolate chips, or other usual banana bread add-ins. It’s quick to make and only costs $0.64 per serving to make.

-1 ripe banana

-1 tbsp oil

-1 tbsp milk 

-1 tbsp sugar

-3 tbsp flour

-½ tsp flour 

-½ tsp baking powder

-(optional) chocolate chips 

1-Mash 1 ripe or overripe banana

2-Add 1 tbsp of (canola or vegetable) oil

3- Add 1 tbsp of milk

4-Add 1 tbsp of sugar

5-Mix all your ingredients together

6-Add 3 tbsp of flour 

7-Add ½ tsp of cinnamon and ½ tsp of baking powder

8-Mix your ingredients together and top with chocolate chips (optional)

9-Microwave your banana bread mixture for 80 seconds

11) Baked Apple Cinnamon Oat Cups

These baked apple cinnamon oat cups are great for busy mornings when you don’t have the time to make breakfast. They’re a similar concept to a granola bar, but instead of granola, they have oats.

These oat cups are inexpensive. They’re flavorful, crunchy, and so easy to put together. 

-2.5 Cups of oats

-1tbsp baking powder

-2 tsp cinnamon & 2 tsp nutmeg

-1 cup milk (oat/almond)

-½ cup apple sauce

-A muffin tin (the 99 cent store has half sized ones)

Instructions: 1-Combine your dry ingredients (oats, baking powder, cinnamon)

2-In a separate container combine the egg, milk, and applesauce

3-Combine the two bowls and mix thoroughly

4-Add in your diced apples

5-Grease your muffin tin or use cupcake liners 

6-Add your mixture to the muffin tin and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes

12) Air Fryer Corn on the Cob

Everyone loves corn on the cob but it’s just not the same boiled. (If you even can boil it in your college housing arrangement.) The best way to enjoy corn on the cob is, hands down, grilled—but this air fryer method comes pretty darn close.

You can season the corn however you like and add your own personal preferences to the dish. I personally enjoy adding Parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top of the corn. At only $0.50 per ear of corn this is a great meal option for college students on a budget. 

-2-3 ears of corn

-1 tsp olive oil

-salt and pepper 

1- Shuck your corn husk off and coat the corn in oil

2-Add salt to the corn and any other seasonings you’d like

3-Heat your air fryer to 400 degrees and let the corn cook for 7 minutes on each side

13) Air Fryer Banana Chips 

Banana chips are unparalleled when it comes to dehydrated fruit. They’re great as a snack or even for breakfast.

With only three ingredients and basically no prep time, these are perfect for a busy schedule. These banana chips cost about $0.24 per serving , so they are definitely budget friendly. 

-2 tsp olive/avocado oil

-¼ tsp salt 

1- Slice your banana into thin, round pieces

2-Coat your banana sliced in oil and add a pinch of salt (this is to make sure they dry out)

3-Heat your air fryer to 350 degrees and bake for 8-10 minutes, flipping your banana slices halfway through

14) Air Fryer Quesadillas 

Who doesn’t love a good quesadilla? It’s a simple comfort food. These air fryer quesadillas might even be easier than the traditional stovetop method. At only $0.27 cents per quesadilla, they’re perfect for any student on budget. 

-1-2 Tortillas 

-toppings of choice

1-Sprinkle cheese and other desired toppings onto your tortillas

2-Fold your quesadillas in half

3-Heat your air fryer or convection oven to 350 degrees and bake your quesadillas for about 8 minutes 

In all, these recipes are great for students with limited time (and limited funds). They can all be adapted to be vegetarian, and they’re overall mostly healthy choices.

College is expensive, and sometimes the budget gets tight, but food is important and it’s good to have cheap options for difficult financial times. It’s hard to find the time and energy to cook dinner every night, especially with college living’s limited kitchen resources, but these recipes hopefully can help to lighten the obligation just a little. 

More Articles By Niche

The community here is very close and people love their school. The summers here are great, and there is tons do during the school year, from sporting events, to school activities.

The bonds made between the students and stuff are unmatched. Saint Bonaventure is truly a community that will stick with you forever.

I found Ohio Northern a few months into my second semester as a senior in high school and I am so thankful I did. I immediately felt at home on campus.

college students easy meals

Student recipes

Going to uni and never cooked before? Our student recipes are a great way to get started with easy, cheap and filling dishes that are packed with flavour.

Check out our vegetarian student recipes for meat-free, budget-friendly inspiration and our favourite healthy student meals for nutritious suppers.

Showing items 1 to 24 of 100

Easy spaghetti bolognese in a bowl with fork

Easy spaghetti Bolognese

Mix pork and beef mince in this easy spaghetti bolognese that also has a splash of red wine and plenty of garlic for a filling, flavourful family supper

Satay sweet potato curry on top of rice in a deep dish

Sweet potato & peanut curry

Cook this tasty, budget-friendly vegan curry for an easy family dinner. With spinach and sweet potato, it boasts two of your five-a-day and it’s under 400 calories

Bean & halloumi stew served in a bowl

Bean & halloumi stew

Use a can of mixed beans to make this tomato-based veggie stew with halloumi. Make it in just 25 minutes for a quick and easy midweek supper

Chilli with rice, avocado and tortilla chips in bowl

Easy chilli con carne

Ideal for entertaining families with kids, this easy homemade classic chilli dish is quick, hassle-free and great to have in the freezer

Chicken pasta bake served in a casserole dish

Chicken pasta bake

Enjoy this gooey cheese and chicken pasta bake for the ultimate weekday family dinner. Serve straight from the dish with a dressed green salad

Microwave scrambled eggs with toast

Microwave scrambled eggs

Rustle up a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs in no time – this protein-rich dish takes just four minutes in the microwave

Sesame & spring onion stir-fried udon with crispy tofu

Sesame & spring onion stir-fried udon with crispy tofu

Do something different for dinner, with our vegan noodle, tofu, green bean and spring onion stir-fry. It's quick and healthy, plus it's budget-friendly too

Spicy chickpea stew in a casserole dish

Spicy chickpea stew

Make a filling meal that encourages healthy gut bacteria with this chickpea and cauliflower stew. A valuable plant-based protein, chickpeas are full of fibre

Roasted aubergine & tomato curry

Roasted aubergine & tomato curry

Slightly sweet with added richness from the coconut milk, this simple vegan curry is a winner. It's also freezable if you need a quick midweek fix

Egg fried rice and vegetables being stirred in wok

Easy egg fried rice

Sara Buenfeld’s fast and easy fried rice with bacon and vegetables makes for a delicious, versatile supper the whole family will enjoy

Microwave cheat's paella

Microwave cheat's paella

Try this shortcut version of the Spanish classic paella, with chicken and chorizo for a midweek meal. The recipe is based on a microwave with a power of 750W

Cali-kale sausage bake

Cauli-kale sausage bake

This cheap, crowd-pleasing meal is easy, hearty fare. This needs hardly any prep and it's pure comfort food, with a good helping of veg and hot bubbling cheese

Smoky chickpeas on toast with fried egg

Smoky chickpeas on toast

Spend just 12 minutes on this healthy, budget-friendly supper for two. Our fuss-free smoky chickpeas on toast deliver two of your 5-a-day and is low in calories

Easy pancakes on a plate with lemon wedges

Easy pancakes

Learn a skill for life with our foolproof easy crêpe recipe that ensures perfect pancakes every time – elaborate flip optional

Chocolate microwave mug cakes with napkin and spoons

Microwave mug cake

Need a quick chocolate fix? Try making this easy microwave mug cake with storecupboard ingredients. It's even more delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream

Vegetarian pastitsio in a large baking dish with a small bowl of onion and tomato salad alongside

Vegetarian pastitsio

In our veggie version of this Greek pasta dish, budget-friendly lentils replace the meat and we've used a little balsamic vinegar instead of wine

Quick & spicy nasi goreng

Quick & spicy nasi goreng

Save on the washing up with this speedy supper for one, with wholesome ingredients like Chinese cabbage and brown rice, finished with a fried egg

Halloumi flatbreads

Halloumi flatbreads

Try these simple veggie halloumi wraps with a crunchy slaw and a generous helping of hummus. A great cheesy budget option for a midweek meal

Sausage ragu served in a casserole dish

Sausage ragu

Feed the family this comforting, budget-friendly sausage ragu with pasta. You can freeze the leftovers for another time and it tastes just as good

Two plates with beans and cheese on toast

Turbo beans & cheese on toast

Make an elevated version of beans on toast using your favourite beans, plus tomatoes, garlic and chilli – they're great topped with cheese

Shakshuka in a pan

Make our easy shakshuka for a comforting brunch. Vary this dish by flavouring the simple tomato sauce with whatever you have to hand - curry powder, pesto or fresh herbs

Two plates of fish curry alongside a pan with rice and lime wedges

Coconut fish curry & rice

Cook this flavour-packed coconut fish curry in just 30 minutes for a speedy meal. For a dose of sour use lime juice or tamarind paste if you have it to hand

Vegetarian double bean & roasted pepper chilli in a large pot

Double bean & roasted pepper chilli

This warming vegetarian chilli is a low-fat, healthy option that packs in the veggies and flavour. Serve with Tabasco sauce, soured cream or yoghurt.

Lemon and herb chicken traybake with butter beans and potato wedges

Lemon & herb chicken traybake with butter beans & potato wedges

Make this versatile traybake for a hearty family meal. Filling and full of fuss-free, flavourful ingredients, this is budget-friendly food at its best

college students easy meals

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