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.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!
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. Take the time to take care of yourself this semester!
Originally Posted 8-23-2014, updated 6-20-2021.
30 Easy Recipes for College Students
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.
What Makes a Recipe Good 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.
Curried Chickpeas with Spinach
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
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)
Creamy Pesto Mac and Cheese with Spinach
Creamy Pesto Mac with Spinach – Get your daily dose of vegetables right along with your cheesy comfort food. And the best part is that it uses frozen spinach, so you can keep it on hand to make whenever you need, without it going bad in the back of your fridge.
Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry
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
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
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!
Pizza Melts – Instead of ordering takeout, make an easy Pizza Melt to cure your pizza craving. You’ll get all that pizza flavor for a fraction of the price and with an easy single-serving portion size.
Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables
Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables – This super delicious, healthy, and filling recipe comes together in minutes and only requires a few simple ingredients. Plus, the leftovers hold up great, so it’s perfect for your weekly meal prep!
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!
Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen
Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen – You only need about 15 minutes and a few leftover vegetables from your fridge to make this insanely creamy and delicious ramen.
Sheet Pan Kielbasa Potatoes and Green Beans
Sheet Pan Kielbasa Potatoes and Green Beans – This recipe only requires six simple ingredients and minimal chopping. It’s super filling and surprisingly big on flavor. This recipe will be a staple dinner during your college years and beyond!
The Peanut Butter Lunch Box
The Peanut Butter Lunch Box – Pack up a few of these snack boxes to nibble on between classes, or for a quick meal between work and school.
Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas
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
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!!
The Cheese Board Lunch Box
The Cheese Board Lunch Box – You might miss the lunchables your mom used to pack for your lunch, but you’re an adult now, so let’s do it the grown-up way! A box full of crackers, cheese, meat, and a little fruit is a light meal that no one would turn down.
Pizza Roll Ups
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!
Oven Baked Steak Fries
Oven-Baked Steak Fries – It really doesn’t get any easier than this. These thick-cut steak fries are beautifully crispy and perfect for dipping in your favorite condiment (but definitely try them with some Comeback Sauce).
Freezer Ready Mini Pizzas
Freezer Ready Mini Pizzas – Keep a batch of these little pizza cuties in the freezer so you can have a quick pizza snack whenever you want!
Homemade Freezer Garlic Bread
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!
Make Ahead Meals
Ground Turkey Stir Fry
Ground Turkey Stir Fry – This super simple stir fry was made for meal prep! You can add as many or as little vegetables as you want and serve it over rice, noodles, or sans-carb. It’s very flexible!
Cottage Cheese Crab Bowl
Cottage Cheese Crab Bowls – These no-cook bowls are light, fresh, and kind of like a California roll, but bowl style! Plus there are plenty of ways to customize this bowl to make it fit your taste buds.
Scallion Herb Chickpea Salad
Scallion Herb Chickpea Salad – This super easy and creamy chickpea salad is great as a sandwich or wrap, scooped up with crackers, or as a topper to a green salad, so you can eat it a different way every day of the week!
No Sugar Added Apple Pie Overnight Oats
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!!
Sausage and Egg Breakfast Quesadillas
Sausage and Egg Breakfast Quesadillas – These breakfast quesadillas are the perfect make-ahead breakfast for busy mornings! Keep a batch in your freezer to quickly reheat in a skillet each morning.
The Tuna Salad Lunch Box
The Tuna Salad Lunch Box – Here’s another great no-cook make-ahead lunch for your busy weekdays!
The Hummus Lunch Box
The Hummus Lunch Box – These little no-cook Mediterranean-style snack boxes are perfect for a make-ahead lunch or a light afternoon study snack. They’re customizable, too, so make sure you click through to see all of the alternate ingredient ideas!
Easiest Burrito Bowl Meal Prep
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 & White Bean Salad
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. ;)
Curried Tofu Salad
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. ;)
Mediterranean Tuna Salad
Mediterranean Tuna Salad – This light, fresh, and protein-filled salad is an easy no-cook option for your busy week or when the weather starts to heat up outside. No reheating necessary!
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!