25+ Cheap and Easy College Students Meals in 2024

cheap students meals
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The pace of college life is hectic, and for many students, it marks their first time living independently. Students in college require quick food options they can prepare in between classes or during late-night study sessions, which is the reason we are discussing cheap and easy students meals.

Learning how to prepare quick, simple, and affordable college meals can be difficult if you’ve never had to. These menu suggestions are ideal for college students who are tight on cash and have little free time to cook.

In this article, we have gathered the cheap and easy college students meals to help you satisfy your cravings in a short period, even as a student. 

What are the Tips For Keeping College Meals Cheap?

Below is a list of a few cheap college meals:

Spend Money On The Right Tools

You don’t have the resources to construct a fully equipped kitchen as a student. It’s alright. Only a few pots, a frypan, and a few other ingredients are required to prepare various dishes.

However, various kitchen appliances, such as a slow cooker, an Instant Pot, or even a sous vide system, can significantly alter the outcome. Having a large pot to prepare soups and stews is also crucial.

Even though you might not have enough money to purchase some of these items outright, you can surely come up with other options. Consider browsing yard sales and secondhand shops, as well as asking friends.  

Use Seasonal Ingredients

Seasonal price variations in fruit and vegetable prices are significant. Produce tends to be relatively affordable when it is in season, but as you move away from the perfect time of year, the cost quickly rises.

So keep this in mind while you purchase and prepare your meals. If you switch the vegetables around in many recipes, they will still turn out well. Why not try it out for yourself?

Cheap vegetables are frequently available at farmers’ markets. Family members and neighbors with significant harvests of produce might also have an excess they don’t mind sharing.

Buy in Bulk

Buying in bulk is a great approach to lowering the cost of ingredients. This is especially true for ingredients you’ll use in numerous recipes, such as rice, lentils, and beans. Even meat may be delicious, especially if you can find it on sale.

However, caution is required because it’s simple to overspend while making large purchases. Some meals are inexpensive, making it simple to purchase them without ever eating them. This occurs far too frequently.

Observe Sales

This is hardly a well-kept secret. Food purchases made during a bargain can save you a ton of money. Remember that you may freeze meals you don’t need immediately and thaw them out later.

Like bulk purchasing, the key is concentrating on goods you need (and will consume!).

Prepare and Freeze

The leftovers from large meals can be frozen, which is a great method to cut costs. This saves you time because you already made meals for days when you are too exhausted to cook.

Concentrate on Plant-Based Protein

Excellent plant-based protein sources include lentils and beans. Additionally, they last longer and are significantly less expensive than meat.

You can use these to construct plant-based meals or stretch your meat further. For instance, you combine ground beef and brown lentils in several spaghetti bolognese recipes.

Even though they are less expensive than classic spaghetti bolognese, these dinners are nonetheless delectable and filling.

You can read this: 32+ Unexpected Things to Bring to College for Ultimate Preparedness

Be Careful with Processed Foods.

Next are processed foods. Most budgeting advice is avoiding practically all packaged foods and cooking meals from scratch.

This is the best thing to do financially, but it only works well if you have a fully supplied kitchen and lots of time. Both are false for students.

What are the Cheap and Easy College Students Meals?

  • Crock Pot Beef Stew
  • Veggie Pita Pizza
  • Chicken Cheese Pasta Casserole
  • Simple Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry
  • Ham and Cheese Omelet
  • Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork
  • 110 Calorie Crustless Veggie Quiche
  • Italian Pasta Bake
  • Yakisoba Noodle Stir Fry
  • Salmon and Potato Foil Packets
  • Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
  • Baked Ham and Cheese Omelet
  • Easy Parmesan Buttered Noodles
  • Chicken Alfredo Baked Ziti
  • Tomato Pesto Salmon and Rice
  • Soul Food Mac and Cheese
  • Slow Cooker Beef and Cheese Pasta
  • Vegan Stir Fried Udon Noodles
  • Spaghetti and Eggs
  • Slow Cooker Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew
  • Creamy Green Lentil Dahl
  • Tuna Casserole with Potato Chips and Peas
  • Easy Baked Salmon
  • Pesto Pita Bread Pizza
  • One Pot Chili Mac

25. Crock Pot Beef Stew

Students often lack crock pots and, by default, are not equipped with one of most kitchens. But because of recipes like this one, a crock pot is a wonderfully effective tool for cooking for a student.

This specific recipe is impressive since all you have to do is toss everything in the pot and let it cook, which is something we discovered online.

Additionally, you can even leave a crackpot on while you are away so that you may return home to a cooked dinner. This is one of the cheap and easy students meals.

24. Veggie Pita Pizza

Making pizzas may be time-consuming and labor-intensive unless you order them, and they frequently contain harmful ingredients.

This recipe for pita pizza from wellplated.com is a wonderful pizza substitute for college students. This dish starts with garlic spread and then adds cheese and vegetables.

If you think this recipe is too healthy, you can significantly alter it. Pita bread makes a fantastic pizza base and makes for a quick pizza, just the appropriate size for one person.

23. Chicken Cheese Pasta Casserole

For students, pasta bakes are always a terrific option. After all, they are rather simple to prepare, and you get a large serving perfect for leftovers.

While this recipe calls for cooking the meat and the pasta, it’s still a rather straightforward dish to prepare.

On jeanetteshealthyliving.com, you may discover all the details you require for the dish. In addition, this is one of the cheap and easy student meals.

22. Simple Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry

Actually, stir-fries are a remarkably quick and simple dish to prepare. They are such a fantastic choice for kids, just based on that.

Additionally, there are a virtually unlimited number of stir fry variations after you’ve learned the fundamentals.

If you’re in a genuine rush, you can even use sauce packets from the grocery. But there are no shortcuts in this dish from cafedelites.com. The recipe is instead for a chicken stir fry that you prepare from scratch. 

Also, as is always the case, something about creating the sauce enhances the overall flavor.

You can check this: What To Do When You Have No Money and Are Bored? 25 Fun Activities 

21. Ham and Cheese Omelet

Omelets are on our list because you can quickly and easily prepare them. Omelets are frequently a major energy source because they contain significant protein from eggs and meat fillings.

However, if you don’t frequently prepare omelets, they could appear a little difficult. This omelet recipe from leitesculinaria.com is an excellent place to learn how to make them. 

The recipe only calls for 7 ingredients (including seasonings) and guides on when and how to fold the omelet and what to do if you don’t want it folded.

20. Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

The pulled pork dish is popular and can be a great way to serve pig. Many people are unaware of how simple it is to create pulled pork; all you need is a slow cooker.

Because Dr. Pepper is included in this dish from seriouseats.com, it differs from typical pulled pork. We adore the concept, and Dr. Pepper would add a distinctive but enticing flavor.

In addition, this is one of the cheap and easy students meals.

19. 110 Calorie Crustless Veggie Quiche

Quiches can be a tasty alternative for a dinner or snack, but they can be challenging to make. After all, making a quiche frequently requires much work, at least with a classic quiche.

Because there is no crust on this quiche, preparing it is significantly simpler. The quiche is also considerably healthier because of this method.

So anyone watching their weight should choose it. You can get this recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com if you want to try it. In addition, this is one of the cheap and easy students meals.

18. Italian Pasta Bake

This dish is just another illustration of the versatility and student-friendliness of pasta bakes. The recipe just requires 5 ingredients, making it very easy to follow.

Visit acedarspoon.com to find out more. Because the inventor of this particular pasta bake recipe employs an uncommon casserole component, it is worth checking out.

Adding that component would enhance the casserole’s appeal and even add a bit of fullness. This is also one of the cheap and easy students meals.

17. Yakisoba Noodle Stir Fry

Here is another stir-fry, although this one uses yakisoba noodles. Though they are rare, such noodles are typically available in the produce area of supermarkets.

If not, you might also use comparable noodles to produce this. If you want to, you could probably even prepare the dish using ramen noodles.

Whatever the case, ‌check out thewanderlustkitchen.com for all the information.

16. Salmon and Potato Foil Packets

Unquestionably, one of the simplest methods to prepare fish for dinner is to bake it in tinfoil. However, using potatoes in this recipe takes things a step further.

This notion is ideal for students because you end up with a single packet containing everything you need for a meal.

The outcome is a filling dish that doesn’t generate a lot of mess or require a lot of ingredients. The complete recipe is available at averiecooks.com.

Related post: 20 Hobbies For Students In College That Are Fun To Have

15. Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Here’s another stir-fry illustration, and this time the ingredients are beef and broccoli.

The author calculates that it takes 15 minutes to complete this particularly simple dish. In this instance, jocooks.com is where you may access the recipe.

The recipe is only for the stir-fry portion right now; it does not include the rice that is shown in the picture.

However, you could easily use rice that only requires a microwave or boil-in-a-bag rice. In either case, the outcome is a simple supper requiring little cleaning.

In addition, this is one of the cheap and easy students meals.

14. Baked Ham and Cheese Omelet

If you weren’t very adept at creating omelets or wanted a larger serving than what an omelet delivers, this dish would be a wonderful choice.

It resembles a crustless quiche in some aspects, but according to the designer, the texture resembles an omelet’s.

It only takes 5 minutes to prepare and is a really simple recipe to make. You can find the recipe at theseasonedmom.com, where the author also offers some replacements if you wish to make a healthier version of it.

13. Easy Parmesan Buttered Noodles

This meal is a terrific reminder that simplicity, especially when it comes to eating, may be beneficial.

You’ll adore the way the dish seems in the bowl, and it would be a terrific option on a day when you don’t want to eat anything, particularly filling.

The fresh pasta in this recipe cooks in only a few minutes, so you can easily make it very quickly using it. Foodiecrush.com has all the directions and ingredients for this recipe.

In addition, this is one of the cheap and easy students meals.

12. Chicken Alfredo Baked Ziti

Don’t be scared off because this recipe doesn’t require a jarred sauce. The Alfredo sauce is very simple to create and is worthwhile. Take a peek at the recipe at gimmesomeoven.com to see for yourself.

See also: Do University Students Get Free Eye Tests?

11. Tomato Pesto Salmon and Rice

This dish is an additional illustration of fish in foil that serves as a whole supper. Salmon is the preferred fish, and they also used rice in the recipe.

Although you probably haven’t seen rice used in this kind of cuisine before, it would be excellent.

The fish and the rice would both taste great with the tomato and pesto flavors, which are also incredibly attractive. You may find this recipe at diethood.com if you want to try it.

10. Soul Food Mac and Cheese

Given that it is a reasonably common lunch for many age groups, including college students, mac and cheese is.

The meal is usually immensely comforting to us, and many other people feel the same way.‌, iheartrecipes.com is where you may obtain the recipe.

You’ll see that this recipe initially appears to be difficult. In actuality, using many types of cheese is the main cause of the complexity.

You could use a smaller variety of cheese in a pinch while maintaining some of the flavor. This is one of the cheap and easy students meals.

9. Slow Cooker Beef and Cheese Pasta

As we already mentioned, slow cookers are fantastic kitchen appliances for students and excellent for stews and different roasts.

However, this dish marks the first time they have made pasta bake in a slow cooker.

Even though this recipe requires some precooking, it is still a simple dish to prepare.

You will adore how it appears on the platter. This dish is a fantastic option if you want to avoid using the oven and want a dinner you can prepare before you get home.

Thecookingjar.com has the recipe’s directions and all the necessary components.

Related post: 15 Best Holiday Destinations For Students in 2024

8. Vegan Stir Fried Udon Noodles

Even though these vegan noodles are still suitable for non-vegans, most of the components are vegetables, which you could substitute based on what was in your pantry.

Anyone who loves Chinese food and wants to recreate the flavor at home should try this recipe. On simpleveganblog.com, you can get all the details and many other recipes.

6. Spaghetti and Eggs

Spaghetti and eggs seem like an extremely odd flavor combo if you’ve never tried them.

However, this combination complements each other very nicely. The egg yolk complements the pasta sauce well, according to the recipe’s author.

This recipe seems like the ideal meal for students. After all, the egg gives a dish that would otherwise be quite bland and conventional a little more protein and taste.

The recipe at iamafoodblog.com provides all the details you require for this dish’s egg and spaghetti portions.

6. Slow Cooker Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew

While you can prepare any cuisine in a slow cooker, stew is the most sensible. This recipe is from the website budgetbytes.com, which also provides a breakdown of the prices of the various items.

The recipe is, therefore, fantastic because it is simple to prepare and reasonably priced. Even though it makes a lot of stew, there will be plenty of delicious leftovers. 

Small crock pots are also available, which are excellent for students. If you possess one of those, you may modify the recipe to create a suitable dish.

5. Creamy Green Lentil Dahl

Dahl is an excellent option for students on a tight budget because lentils are inexpensive, store well, and are full of nutrients.

The green dahl recipe from thevegspace.co.uk is only one of many versions.

The dahl takes longer to cook and has a more distinct texture because green lentils are the key ingredient. They used red lentils in a variety of other recipes. 

These variations are also tasty; however, red lentils simmer down to a mushy consistency, resulting in a mushy dahl. This recipe is wonderful because green lentils keep their shape better.

Read also: Easy High School To College Transitions: 15 Best On The List.

4. Tuna Casserole with Potato Chips and Peas

Any student would find this dish from wildflourskitchen.com to be cool.

The recipe may appear to have a lot of components at first sight; however, this is different.

Additionally, the dish itself is fairly simple to prepare, which is always a plus. Another recipe that yields tasty leftovers and would serve many people, or simply leftovers, is this one.

3. Easy Baked Salmon

You provide another method for baking fish here, although, unlike the previous one, it does not use tinfoil.

The dish is ingenious because you cook the veggies and fish simultaneously so that they can all benefit from the flavors of the other ingredients.

With some boiled new potatoes or another straightforward side dish, the finished product makes for a quick and simple meal. The complete instructions for this recipe are available at sixsistersstuff.com.

2. Pesto Pita Bread Pizza

This time, it’s from the website yummyhealthyeasy.com, and we think the dish just fits the site’s name so wonderfully.

Generally speaking, pita bread makes an excellent pizza base, especially if you’re serving yourself.

Beyond that, you will also adore this specific pizza recipe’s taste combination. In addition, this is one of the cheap and easy students meals.

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1. One Pot Chili Mac

Due to how you require little cleanup, one-pot dinners are always excellent for students.

Additionally, the overall flavor is improved because the pasta absorbs a lot of flavor from the other components I cook it with.

This recipe for chili mac is more upscale, and Jenni from onesweetmess.com utilizes a variety of ingredients to distinguish this dish.

What are the Other Ways to Save on Food Costs in College?

There are numerous additional strategies to reduce the cost of college meals. They could require some previous planning, but the cost savings will be worthwhile.

Making meals

Meal prepping is the practice of preparing all or part of your meals in advance to maintain a healthy diet despite a busy schedule.

You can save even more money if you can prepare inexpensive meals ahead of time, portion them out, and freeze them for later use.

Prepare a meal plan.

Students can buy meals on campus using a prepaid account known as a college meal plan.

Purchasing a meal plan enables simple college meals without the need for budgeting, shopping, or cooking. Depending on the price of food, meal planning can help you save money.


Make a list of everything you need before shopping to help you organize your trips to the store. Follow your list to prevent making impulsive purchases.

In advance, look for money-saving coupons and utilize savings apps to locate the greatest prices on the things you need.

Visit the Food Pantry at Your College

You’re not the only one who struggles to pay for groceries. In 2021, 29% of students at four-year institutions reported being food insecure, according to the Hope Center.

However, assistance is accessible. You might have access to a free food pantry at your campus. But if not, look into off-campus opportunities in your area.

Read also: Student Food Budget: How Much Do Students Spend on Food?

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a cheap dinner entail?

Sandwiches with peanut butter and jelly. It may seem obvious, but PB&J is a REALLY straightforward dinner and a basic staple. It’s kid-friendly, only needs a few inexpensive ingredients, and is simply delicious. My preferred pairing for mine is a banana, string cheese, and yogurt.

What are the finest foods for students on a budget?

The best foods to eat include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats, and you can usually find these foods at reasonable prices in grocery shops.
Bananas, oats, and quinoa are additional healthy and delicious snack options that will keep you from indulging in unhealthy treats when studying and staying up late.

What is the usual food plan for students?

Regular college food arrangements provide a secure dining option for students. These programs offer degree seekers at least two meals per day, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. College eating facilities accept standard plans.


There are many food blogs, as you may have noticed if you’ve spent time exploring the internet (or Pinterest). A lot of these have fantastic and distinctive recipes.

In reality, this website contains numerous instances of those recipes. The issue is that many food websites publish elaborate recipes that may feed an entire family and call for specialized items.

This guide demonstrates some quick and inexpensive meals for college students.



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