Our collection of recipes for college students can help you make healthy meals despite your busy schedule.—
Summer’s over, semesters are coming, and your schedule will be packed with classes once again. In these busy times, cooking becomes a luxury, and ordering take-out is too pricey to be a frequent thing.
Don’t you worry, because a few spare hours on a Sunday are all you need to make these meals. Most of our dishes are quick to make, freezable, and a cheaper alternative to take-outs.
We also make sure our recipes comply with the USDA’s latest healthy eating guidelines. Plus, all of these recipes are approved by our top nutritionist.
Necessary Kitchen Equipment
We get it. College life means there are only a few tools in the kitchen, and most likely you’re sharing them with others.
But really, all you might need in the cooking process are these few things:
- A large pot/pan: for one-pot/one-pan dishes that save you tons of time.
- A Rice cooker: our recipes can call for cooked rice, and a rice cooker would be really convenient. If you don’t have one, cook them in the pot or opt for rice-free meals.
- An oven: sometimes oven meals are the best. They can be a lifesaver at times.
- Utensils: a spatula, a pair of chopsticks, a spoon, and a fork will do.
- Bowls of three sizes: a large one for mixing salad, a medium one for eating, and a small one for holding sauces. You can use more if you want.
- Eco-friendly food bags: to divide your meals into portions. When you need a meal, rip them off and toss the food into a pan to reheat.
- A juicer/blender (optional): if you don’t have one, we have drinks that don’t require a machine to make.
So make sure you have these on hand, and once you do, choose whichever one of these recipes you’re in the mood for:
Then, click to see how you can cook up a meal this Sunday.
Quick, Pre-prepared Breakfasts
We begin this list of “recipes for college students” with breakfasts that are either quick or can be made beforehand.
- Pancakes with berries: an all-time favorite for many, yet so often made wrong. Our fail-proof recipe will show you how to make fluffy pancakes with berries that are healthy and delicious. You can whip the batter the night before then simply take it out in the morning.
- Avocado toasts with fried eggs: a popular breakfast among millennials that costs more than necessary. With this recipe, you can have it every morning without spending a fortune.
- Easy overnight oats with berries: like the name suggests, you can make this breakfast at night and simply grab it in the morning. It’s got oats enriched in yogurt, crunchy bits of nuts, and sweet berries.
- Creamy chicken salad sandwich: another meal you can make six or seven servings of then store in the fridge for an easy meal. It’s creamy, with crunchy juicy bits of veg and perfect between two slices of soft bread.
- Biscuits and gravy, fragrant and savory: if you’re into savory, creamy gravy over flaky biscuits, check out this recipe. This delicious meal only requires a few hours on a Sunday to make and a few minutes to reheat.
- Breakfast burritos, the best in one bite: with seven components in the same roll, this breakfast burrito could be your new addiction. It can be made the day before and briefly reheated in the morning.
- Yogurt blueberry almond honey bowl – Goop: gather all of these nutritious ingredients and you’ll have a delicious meal for breakfast. It’ll take you only a few minutes to whip up.
Easy Healthy College Meals That Cook in One Pot
When there isn’t much time on your hands, the last thing you want is a sink full of dirty dishes. These one-pot meals can be a brilliant solution.
What’s better is that while the food’s simmering, you can just set the timer and do something else.
- Chicken sausage gumbo, with thickened, flavorful sauce: it’s got sausages, chicken strips, pepper, okra, all simmered in a flavorful broth. Serve it over cooked rice for a wholesome meal.
- Stuffed pepper soup, a Mexican delight: Have you got a soft spot for Mexican food? Try this one-pot take on stuffed pepper. You’ll be amazed by its flavor as well as its nutritional profile.
- Kung Pao chicken, perfect over hot rice: if you often get take-outs because you fancy Kung Pao chicken, you don’t have to anymore. Our recipe will help you recreate this Chinese staple, with simple ingredients and original flavors.
- Basic, wholesome omelet – BBC Good Food: omelet is the king of easy, healthy meals — it’s customizable, cheap, and nutritious. Serve yourself an omelet with a salad on the side, and you can call it a full meal.
- Salisbury steak, a steak-meatball hybrid: the meat is actually “meatballs” but shaped into thick “steaks” and reduced in a savory mushroom sauce. If you’re a fan of mushrooms and pasta, this is perfect for your week’s meals.
- Mongolian beef coated in flavorful sauce: once in a while, treat yourself to an exotic meal like this Mongolian beef. It’s got a balance between sweet and savory, comes together quickly, and is perfect with white rice.
- Teriyaki chicken with a glossy glaze: this Japanese classic sounds tricky to make, but it’s not. You can get it ready with the help of our recipe and just 30 minutes (no oven or grill needed).
- Easy orange chicken, better than take-out: a cheap, flavorful eat with fried chicken nuggets coated in a sweet, tangy orange sauce. It takes less than 30 minutes to put together.
- Sausage and peppers, an easy stir-fry: sausage, peppers, and pasta can make an easy yet tasty meal. It might take you almost an hour, but feel free to spend the last 20 minutes doing chores.
- Chicken korma for an Indian meal: this dish requires lots of ingredients, so unless you want a healthy Indian meal, skip this recipe. Other than that, it’s an exotic meal to have once in a while and totally worth the effort.
Oven Meals, Because Who’s Got the Time to Watch the Food?
Quick recipes are great and all, but have you thought about letting the oven do all the work? It might take more than an hour, but you don’t need to be present most of the time. Use that spare time to mix a salad, get a juicer running, or both!
- Baked chicken breast, simple and healthy: it’s super cheap to make, fuss-free, and packed with lean proteins — a perfect option if you’re hitting the gym.
- Easy, umami chicken and rice casserole: I adore casseroles — whenever I want a wholesome meal, just put ingredients in a baking dish and let the oven do all the cooking. It’s effortless, really.
- Meatloaf with caramelized glaze: if you find yourself reminiscing about momma’s favorite meatloaf, try this easy meatloaf recipe. It might not taste as good as hers, but it just fits the college life — easy, storable, nutritious, delicious.
- Quick broiled salmon with a fragrant glaze: I just had to fit this recipe into this list. It doesn’t give you spare time, but it comes together in just 15 minutes and is super flavorful!
Cheap Meals for When There Isn’t Much to Spend
It wouldn’t be “recipes for college students” without meals to have when you’re on a tight budget. As students, it happens really often, and we get it.
The good news is, with these recipes, you can enjoy wholesome meals even if you’re hard up. They are also simple, and require only cheap ingredients and spices.
- Spicy tofu to spice up your meals: does tofu look plain to you? Think again after you’ve tried spicy tofu. It’s crispy on the outside, super creamy on the inside, and all coated in a fragrant, spicy dark sauce.
- Egg curry with amazing sauce: cheap food has to include eggs. You can make omelet, fried eggs, scrambled eggs and serve it over rice or bread, or you can spend some time making egg curry. It goes so well with cooked rice.
- Spaetzle, a cheap German meal: Spaetzle is a kind of home-made pasta that is stir-fried and served as-is or with a savory topping. Our recipe uses mushrooms and cheese, and it’s amazing. You can scramble an egg to get extra proteins.
- Garlic cheese bread and tomato soup – Brit + Co: nothing compares to the taste of freshly baked bread soaked with flavors from the warm soup. This combination has won over a million hearts, and we think it’ll win yours too.
That concludes the main dishes we have in this “recipes for college students” collection. Have a look through these collections for more ideas to plan your weekly meals:
Salads to Refrigerate and Eat Whenever
A salad adds plenty of flavor and nutrients to main dishes and makes you feel full. So while the pot and oven are on, quickly whip up a bowl of salad to save for the upcoming week:
- Creamy, filling egg salad: the eggs are dressed in a fragrant and rich dressing, leaving both your palate and stomach satisfied. You can leave the salad in the fridge for 5 days maximum.
- Classic Caesar salad: this salad can make up for any protein lacking in your main dish. It’s got crunchy breadcrumbs, crisp vegetables, and plenty of proteins from the creamy boiled eggs.
- Simple Greek salad: one of the easiest salads we have, to be honest. All there is to do is chop everything into bite-sized pieces, mix them with the dressing, and serve. The tangy vinaigrette makes it a great complement for creamy main dishes.
- Juicy watermelon arugula salad: another simple salad that adds freshness to any meal. It has juicy watermelon cubes, a lemony dressing, and loads of crisp arugula.
- Extra-savory shrimp salad: if you’re not that into salads, try this shrimp salad then. It has corn, bell pepper, avocado, cucumber, tomato, some lettuce, and a whole lot of garlic-seared shrimp. It’s so flavorful that you might forget it’s a salad.
- Savory-n-sweet Waldorf salad: If you’re put off by the tangy dressing that often comes with salads, this sweet and rich Waldorf chicken salad could change your mind. We especially like how its sweetness comes from juicy grapes and not something artificial.
- Creamy, tangy macaroni salad: balance out a protein-packed meal with this macaroni salad. It has chewy al dente macaroni and crispy veg chunks, all dressed in a creamy, tangy dressing.
- Fragrant pesto pasta salad: this salad contains seared shrimp, crunchy veg, and rotini pasta dressed in a fragrant, herby basil dressing— pesto. Pesto tastes so good that you can simply serve plain pasta with it and it’s still an amazing meal.
Healthy Juices for a Nutrient Boost All Week Long
Other round-ups of recipes for college students might not include a juice section, but ours does. They add flavor, nutrients, and help you to meet your daily water requirements, and that’s vitally important.
But instead of drinking coke or bottled juices, how about making your own drink? It’s cheaper, they’re made from natural ingredients, and you can make unique drinks that can’t be found in stores.
If you don’t have a juicer, you can still have a delicious drink with the recipes we have in the upcoming section. Click to go straight there.
- Watermelon Juice, Simple and Sweet: watermelon might not be the most nutrient-dense fruit, but its juice makes an amazing drink. With a few mint leaves, you can have a refreshing glass of juice to complete your meal.
- Pineapple Cucumber Juice, Sweet and Tangy: we were skeptical at first, but it’s amazing how the chefs did their job. While the pineapple gives a sharp zing, the cucumber juice balances that out with a mild sweetness and a whole lot of freshness.
- Celery Cucumber Juice, Fresh and Fragrant: celery juice has been hyped lately for possessing an impressive nutritional content, but its aroma can be too strong. Our celery and cucumber juice boasts all the nutritional benefits of celery, yet offers a balanced mix of flavors and aromas.
- Green Apple Juice, First Step to Cleansing: recently joined the green juice gang? Start the journey with this delicious green apple juice. We’re using only green apples, spinach, and a little bit of honey.
- Green Vegetable Juice, Aromatic and Tasty: similar to green apple juice, but this one has more leafy greens in it. It’s still super refreshing and tasty.
- Mean Green Juice, Ultimate Nutrient Boost: as the name suggests, this mean green juice is the ultimate healthy drink with very little added sugar. It means you can introduce tons more nutrients and very few calories to your body.
Refreshing Smoothies, Nutrient-packed and Indulging
Wondering how to include more whole fruits/greens to your diet? Besides eating them (which can get boring) or juicing them (which strips away the fiber), a smoothie might be the answer.
To save time, cut up some fruits (and vegetables) on Sunday, and refrigerate them. It’ll take just 5 minutes in the morning to whip up delicious smoothies.
- Delicious Fruity Green Smoothie: an easy, delicious way to get more greens into your diet. It’s flavored with fruits and you’d hardly ever notice there are even any greens in it.
- Sweet and Aromatic Peach Smoothie: this is a summery beverage that’s packed with nutrients from peach and mango. It’ll help to keep you hydrated and nourished.
- Blueberry Banana Smoothie, Dessert in a Mug: satisfy your sweet tooth with this blueberry banana deliciousness. Its sugar content is high (within limits), perfect for when you feel like getting something sweet but not too sweet.
- Strawberry Smoothie, Simple Energy Boost for Breakfast: a revitalizing drink with only 4 ingredients to give you a delicious energy boost.
- Pineapple Smoothie for a Tropical Experience: this pineapple smoothie resembles a tropical smoothie — fragrant with vanilla and enriched with coconut milk.
- Frozen Fruit Smoothie, a Slushy Treat: an icy, slushy take on a smoothie that’s packed with flavors and vitamins from the berries. Slurp it or spoon it, your choice.
Juices and Drinks That Don’t Require Any Machine
Not owning a juicer doesn’t mean you can’t get to enjoy fresh drinks. These recipes below ask for nothing but your strong hands:
- Easy, Basic Lemonade: simple lemonade that can sit in your fridge for a week and takes 5 minutes to make.
- Milk and Lemon Juice: you can make buttermilk by mixing milk and lemon juice, and the mixture tastes good as a drink too. It’s creamy, lemony, and sweet.
- Ginger Ale and Orange Juice: for this drink, you need to grab a can of ginger ale to go with the oranges. Together they make a fun, refreshing carbonated drink.
- Simply Orange Juice: making orange juice is easier with a citrus juicer, but if you don’t have one, you can always squeeze it by hand.
- Apple Cider Vinegar and Lemon Juice: next in line is another weird drink that we tweaked to taste good. Our secret? We added lemongrass, lemon, and mint so the aroma of vinegar became much more pleasant.
- Milk and Orange Juice: similar to milk and lemon juice, this one tastes rich and citrusy, almost like orange yogurt.
Fun Snacks and Drinks to Save for the Weekend
After a long week dedicated to study, you deserve a treat. Make these tasty treats to snack on whenever you feel like it.
- Simple Deviled Eggs: we start the list with a cheap finger food that’s fun to make and to eat. It especially comes in handy when you throw a party — make a bunch, refrigerate, and serve whenever.
- Juicy Zucchini Fries: this brings a whole new meaning to fries: crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. It takes half an hour to make and is so satisfying.
- Easy Guacamole: what’s better than spending time with friends? Spending time with them eating, of course. A simple chip and dip never disappoints, and we just couldn’t think of anything simpler than guacamole.
- Flavorful Buffalo Chicken Dip: or you might fancy something more flavorful, like a buffalo chicken dip. You can serve this dip with celery and carrot sticks or fries, but you’ll be surprised how veg sticks can taste so good.
- Fancy Vodka and Pomegranate Juice: wow your friends with this gorgeous drink made of pomegranate, vodka, and soda. It requires no expert bartending skills, yet still comes out amazing.
- Stunning Blue Jungle Juice: another beauty to treat your friends (or yourself). Just like other cocktails on our website, this one has a moderate amount of alcohol to give you a good (but not too good) time.
- Tasty Watermelon Jungle Juice: this cocktail is perfect for when you’re on budget, but still want to throw a sick party. Make deviled eggs, chips and dips, and your friends won’t be disappointed.
- Beer and Tomato Juice, Classic Red Beer: grab your favorite beer and turn it into red beer, a cocktail for when you feel like beer but not too much.
That concludes our recipes for college students. Coming up next: how to do all that cooking on a tight schedule.
How to Make Meals for the Whole Week
This is how I prepare food for the following week, only from Monday-Friday.
- Run the errands: compile a list of dishes (one breakfast, two main dishes, two salads, and two juices) as well as their ingredients. I try to keep the list short by choosing dishes with similar ingredients.
- Cook the first main dish: I cook up five portions of a meal using a pot. It usually takes around 30 minutes.
- Cook the second main dish: as the food in the pot simmers, I prep the veg/meat for the second dish and cook them in the oven. It takes around 1 hour, but it overlaps with the first dish, so it’s been 1 hour of cooking so far.
- Prep ingredients for the salads: I simply place cut-up ingredients and dressing in the food bags and refrigerate them. I’ll mix the salad just before eating, so it doesn’t get wilted. That takes another half an hour.
- Make the juices: like the salad, I don’t juice/blend the ingredients right away, but prep them and store them in the fridge. Doing this allows me to have fresh drinks whenever I want.
All of this often takes me 4 hours max. I always make breakfast in the morning or prep its ingredients the day before.
Please let us know if this section has been useful, and don’t hesitate to leave a comment! We’re glad to know how it works out for you and really want to help.
Luna ReginaWriter, Author
Tuyet PhamChef, Culinary Consultant
February 24, 2023 at 7:25 AMAwesome recipes!