It’s that time again! Time to settle in for the semester and really hit the books. But don’t let food take a back seat. You need to keep yourself nourished and full of energy to make it through those classes, study sessions, and that part-time job, too. I know it’s easier to just stop and grab some fast food, but taking a few minutes to prepare a homemade meal can be both nutritious and therapeutic. So, I’ve put together this list of 30 Easy Recipes for College Students to help you get through the semester without coming out the other side feeling like a casualty!
And just as a side note, these are recipes for college students who have access to a kitchen, even if a very limited kitchen. With all the restrictions on equipment allowed in dorm rooms, dorm room cooking is a whole different beast. Originally Posted 8-23-2014, updated 8-17-18.
30 Easy Recipes for College Students
I was a broke college student when I started this blog, so this is a category that I am very familiar with. To make the cut for this list of Easy Recipes for College Students, the recipes had to be simple (not many ingredients, no fancy equipment, and a simple preparation method), they had to strike a good balance between comfort and healthy (because let’s face it, when you’re stressed you want comfort but eating bad can make you feel worse), and they needed to make good leftovers.
I’ve divided this list into four categories: Easy Dinners, Snack Foods, Make Ahead Meals (including breakfast options), and Cold Meals (perfect for taking with you to school).
Curried Chickpeas with Spinach – When the autumn nights start to get a chilly bite, warm up with a hot bowl of these hearty curried chickpeas with spinach. Packed with flavor, this vegan dish is delicious and filling enough to finally bring vegetarians and carnivores together over one meal.
Pork and Peanut Dragon Noodles – The next time you’re tempted to grab take out, try this incredibly simple noodle stir fry. It will satisfy those take out cravings, but you’ll have complete control over the ingredients. Add some simple steamed greens to round out the meal! (Or try the original, vegetarian version of Dragon Noodles)
One Pot Chili Pasta – This One Pot Chili Pasta is total comfort food, but with all the goodness of beans and no-mystery ingredients like you get with boxed hamburger meals. And I promise, this is SO EASY with just one pot to wash afterward. 😉 Oh, and this makes great leftovers, so you’re set for the week! (Here is my vegetarian version, Cheesy Vegetarian Chili Mac)
Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry – Grab a bag of coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots), and this meal is insanely fast and easy to make. Better yet, it’s full of fiber and protein, so you can help curb that freshman 15. 😉 (Feel free to use ground pork, turkey, or chicken in place of the Beef, if preferred.)
Bowties and Broccoli – This has been my go-to “emergency meal” for decades. Literally. There’s nothing more satisfying than pasta with a little butter and Parmesan, and I add broccoli florets to balance things out, plus a little pepper and red pepper flakes for kicks. Insanely easy and all of the ingredients can be kept on hand pretty much indefinitely, so it’s ready to go whenever you need something FAST.
Poor Man’s Burrito Bowls – We all know burrito bowls are life (thanks, Chipotle!), but they don’t have to be fancy to be super delicious or satisfying. This is my pared down, no frills, as-simple-as-it-gets version of a burrito bowl because when you’re in college, ain’t nobody got time or money for all those fancy toppings! Bonus: you can meal prep these!
Creamy Tuna Pasta with Peas and Parmesan – Are you feeling homesick? This comfy pasta will remind you of home and those boxed pasta meals mom used to make, but it’s all simple ingredients that you can feel good about. This one is for those weekend that you can’t get home to see your mom (but sorry, I can’t help with your laundry).
Weeknight Black Bean Chili – I call this one “weeknight” black bean chili because it’s a super fast and easy version of chili. No need to let this one simmer on the stove top all day for maximum flavor. Throw this warm and hearty chili on the stove for your tailgating parties, or just when you need something to keep you warm and full as you study.
Dragon Noodles – And of course this list wouldn’t be complete without the classic Dragon Noodles. They’re faster than take-out, super delicious, and completely customizable. Throw in any vegetables you might in have in the fridge, or try changing up the sauce with a little peanut butter or lime. Browse through the comments to discover all the variations readers have made over the years!
One Pot Bacon Broccoli Mac and Cheese – If you think homemade mac and cheese is complicated, think again. This version uses ONE POT and comes together quickly without having to make a roux-based cheese sauce. Check out the plain (no bacon or broccoli) version here: Will It Skillet Mac and Cheese (it can be made in a pot instead of a skillet)
Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas – Quesadillas are the perfect snack (just ask Taco Bell). This spicy vegetarian mix of black beans, corn, onion, and cheese is 100x better than anything you’ll get at the drive through. More flavor, more fiber, more filling, and still extremely easy. Promise.
Spinach Feta Grilled Cheese – Grilled cheese is the ultimate study/comfort food. Take it up a level with some frozen spinach, a little garlic, red pepper flakes, and feta. You now have a super fancy grilled cheese AND a good dose of vegetables. WIN.
Pizzadillas – When you have a pizza craving (when do you not have a pizza craving??) but don’t have the time or energy to make a homemade pizza yourself, pizzadillas are you quick and easy answer! Plus, without all that thick buttery crust, they’re probably a little more healthy, too. 😉 No delivery fee for the win!!
Pizza Roll Ups – OR make your pizza in roll up form. It’s still way faster and easier than making traditional pizza, and a LOT less expensive than ordering delivery. These are great for football parties, too!
Caramelized Banana and Peanut Butter “Quesadillas” – If you have a sweet tooth, this is the PERFECT quick snack! Creamy peanut butter and caramelized banana slices make the perfect sweet and warm gooey filling for a crispy tortilla. YUM.
Ultimate BBQ Chicken Quesadillas – These are SO GOOD you guys! Plus you can make a batch ahead and stash them in your freezer. Then just warm them slowly in a skillet over low flame until they defrost and heat through, and the tortilla gets nice and crispy!
Homemade Freezer Garlic Bread – Put down that box of frozen garlic bread! It’s far too easy and inexpensive to make your own! Keep these garlic bread slices in your freezer and on hand for anytime that you get a craving. They also make a pretty killer grilled cheese sandwich, too. Talk about study fuel!
Creamy Black Bean Taquitos – Why is food so much better when you can dip it? I don’t know, but it’s true. These cute little vegetarian Creamy Black Bean Taquitos are the perfect snack for studying with their crispy exterior and creamy, cheesy filling. MMmmmmm.
Make Ahead Meals
Golden Milk Overnight Oats – Golden milk lattes are probably the hottest drink at that trendy cafe on the edge of campus, but you don’t need to spend $4.50 to get the health benefits of golden milk. Make it a meal by soaking your oats in the delicious golden milk overnight, so you have pre-made breakfasts to grab and go all week!
Make Ahead Microwave Breakfast Scrambles – If savory breakfasts are more your jam, try these make-ahead egg scrambles. The ingredients are customizable and all you have to do is add an egg, stir, and microwave each morning. Super fast and easy!
No Sugar Added Apple Pie Overnight Oats – This is another great make-ahead breakfast option that can easily be made vegan by using almond or soy milk. You won’t believe how much this tastes like apple pie, even without ANY added sugar!!
Make Ahead Bean and Cheese Burritos – Stock your fridge or freezer with these simple burritos and you WON’T be sorry. It’s such a relief to be able to just grab and reheat a burrito when you’re starving and homemade are way better than those sad little guys you buy in the freezer section of the grocery store.
Freezer Ready Mini Pizzas – Speaking of store bought convenience food, you can make your own little freezer snack pizzas, too! to avoid having to buy a million topping ingredients, hit your local salad bar to grab just a handful of each topping. 😉
5-Ingredient Freezer Biscuits – Okay, let’s be real. On Saturday morning when you have a hangover and you just want some comfort food without the work, you can grab a few of these biscuits out of the freezer, pop them in the oven, and have fresh, fluffy biscuits in just a few minutes. You can thank me later.
Easiest Burrito Bowl Meal Prep – I never get tired of burrito bowls, and thankfully they are just made for meal prepping. You can make a few for the week ahead, or stash them in the freezer for longer storage. Either way, it’s just a quick reheat to total burrito bowl bliss.
Tuna and White Bean Salad – Tons of protein and fiber to keep you full and fueled through a long day of classes! Pack it up with some crackers for dipping, or stuff it into a tortilla to make a wrap, and you’re set. Oh, and NO MAYO. 😉
Spinach, Chickpea and Quinoa Salad – This amazing salad is packed with all the healthies, is hearty enough to act as a full meal, and somehow manages to hold up in the fridge without getting too wilty. It’s a total winner!
Curried Tofu Salad – Super simple prep, and it holds up in the fridge for days! You can serve it over a bed of greens as a salad, or make it a wrap by stuffing it into a tortilla. So fresh and light, it won’t make you groggy in those afternoon classes. 😉
Quinoa Tabbouleh – This is another great multi-purpose salad that you can make in the beginning of the week and serve several different ways over the next few days, so you don’t get tired of it! Stuff it into a pita, add some grilled chicken on top, or just serve it on its own. However you eat it, it’s so yummy you aren’t likely to get tired of it before you hit the bottom of the bowl.
Make Ahead Kale White Bean and Pesto Salad – Make ahead salads are my savior. This one uses kale, which is not only a nutrient superstar, but also hold up incredibly well in the fridge, and a simple jar of pesto as the “dressing.” The pesto also helps soften the kale and make it just that much more yummy!
Also check out my Meal Prep archives for plenty of ideas for packed lunches!
So there you have it, my top 30 Easy Recipes for College Students. What was/is your favorite recipes to help you get through the semester? Share in the comments below!
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