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12 Cheap Pasta Dishes for Broke College Students

12 Cheap Pasta Dishes for Broke College Students

When it comes to cooking while in college, cheap pasta dishes are the way to go. Cooking can not only be unfamiliar territory for college students but also it can become expensive especially if you’re a broke college kid. Not to worry, we have a list of cheap pasta dishes that are sure to satisfy your stomach and your wallet.

1. Classic mac n’ cheese

If you’re a college kid, you’ve probably had your fair share of boxed mac n’ cheese. However, there’s a way to make your own version that is quick, easy and tastes even better. You’ll need:

  • 1 box/package of pasta (any kind will do, but traditionally, elbow pasta is best)
  • 1 bag of mild cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 3 tablespoons of butter

First, cook the pasta in a large pot until tender. In a separate pot, mix cheese, milk, and butter until combined. Keep in mind that depending on how much pasta you’re making or however many people you are serving, you can adjust the ingredients accordingly, or you can have leftovers! Add the cheese mix to the pasta and mix together. Sprinkle some pepper and serve.

12 Cheap Pasta Dishes for Broke College Students

2. Bowtie pasta with peas

This dish is good if you want something lighter than traditional cheesy or red sauce pasta. It is made with a lemon dressing that is simple and keeps you full without making you feel sluggish. The ingredients for this dish might be a little bit longer as far as ingredients, but don’t worry, most of it is likely already in your kitchen. To make this, grab these ingredients:

  • 1 box/bag of bowtie pasta
  • 1 bag of frozen peas (canned peas can work as well)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

First, cook the pasta in a large pot. Cook the peas at the same time in a smaller pot. Drain the pasta and peas and combine them into a large bowl. Combine all other ingredients into a small bowl for the dressing. Be sure to taste it and add any extras to make it to your liking. Pour the dressing over the pasta and peas and serve. You can also have shredded grill chicken and this can be eaten hot or cold!

12 Cheap Pasta Dishes for Broke College Students

3. Healthy twist pasta

If you’re having a super busy night and still want something healthy for dinner then look no further. You’ll need:

  • 1 box/bag of rotini pasta (any kind of pasta will do)
  • 1-1 1/2 bunches of fresh broccoli
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup parmesan
  • olive oil to garnish

Begin by bringing your pasta to a boil. While you wait, cut the broccoli into florets or bite-sized pieces and add them to the pasta when the pasta is about 3 minutes away from being done. After three minutes, drain and set aside. Add butter while the pasta is still hot so it can melt into the mix. Then, zest the lemon and squeeze the lemon juice over the pasta as well. Add all other ingredients and add extras until it is to your liking. Garnish with olive oil and parmesan. You can also add spinach and grilled chicken to this dish.

12 Cheap Pasta Dishes for Broke College Students

4. Spaghetti with a simple protein

Spaghetti with red sauce is a classic because it’s simple and seems to never get old. However, when you add a protein such as ground beef or sausage it can make it even more delish. Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • 1 box/bag of spaghetti
  • 1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce
  • 1 lb of ground beef or 2-3 sausage links
  • parmesan to garnish

Cook the pasta until tender. While you wait for the pasta, begin cooking the meat. In a separate pan, cook the ground beef until completely browned and add salt and pepper to taste. If you’re doing sausage, slice them into bite-sized pieces and brown them in a pan as well. Once the meat is cooked, add your jar of tomato sauce to the same pan as the meat and cook until the sauce starts to bubble. Depending on how many people you are serving, adjust to how much sauce you want to add accordingly, or have some for leftovers. Serve and garnish with some parmesan.

12 Cheap Pasta Dishes for Broke College Students

5. Garlic parm pasta

Sometimes the best parts of pasta are the cheese and garlic. Here is a simple dish that amplifies just that. For this, you’ll need:

  • 1 box/bag of spaghetti
  • 4 tbsp garlic powder or 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups of parmesan
  • Parsley to garnish

Bring the pasta to a boil and drain. While the pasta is still hot add the garlic and parmesan and mix together in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finally, serve with more parmesan on top and garnish with parsley. Cooked, buttered spinach would also be great in this dish.

12 Cheap Pasta Dishes for Broke College Students

6. Simple buttered noodles

If you’re not in the mood for any fancy sauces or dressings on your pasta, let’s simplify your pasta dish and use basic, easy ingredients. This is one of the quickest easiest pasta dishes and the only items you’ll need are:

  • 1 box/bag of your favorite noodles
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Salt and pepper (optional)

First, cook the pasta until tender and drain. Add the butter while the pasta is still warm and mix so there are no chunks left (you may have to put the stick into the microwave to soften it). Add salt and pepper to taste and as a garnish if you would like. All done!

12 Cheap Pasta Dishes for Broke College Students

7. Tomato with angel hair pasta

Don’t be afraid to branch out from cooking other things that aren’t pasta and sauce from a jar. This dish makes adding other ingredients super easy and you’ll be glad you tried it. For this, you’ll need:

  • 1 box/bag of angel hair pasta
  • 1 small bag/box of cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp garlic powder or 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bunch of parsley (optional)
  • 1 bunch of basil (optional)

Boil the pasta and while you’re waiting to start cooking the tomatoes. Drizzle a large pan with olive oil and bring to medium heat. Add the tomatoes to the pan and cook until they wilt. It is okay if they burst. Add the garlic and bring to a simmer. Chop the basil and parsley finely. Bring the noodles to the pan and mix them with the tomatoes. Add the basil and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

12 Cheap Pasta Dishes for Broke College Students

8. 4-cheese pasta

Calling all cheese lovers! The great thing about this recipe is that you can add your own favorite cheeses and mix and match to create something you love. All you need is:

  • 1 box/bag of cavatappi pasta
  • 1/2 stick of salted butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup of shredded provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup of shredded colby jack cheese
  • 1 tbsp of basil (optional)
  • 1 tsp of parsley (optional)

Cook the pasta until it’s about half-way done. Drain the pasta and set aside while keeping about 1 cup of the pasta water. In a separate pan, bring it to medium heat and add the butter and flour. Once mixed, add the milk and stir in each cheese slowly. Add the cup of pasta water to the mix. Combine the cheese mix to the pasta and add the basil and parsley and place in a rectangular dish. Add some extra cheese on top and place into the oven until the pasta is completely cooked and the cheese is melted on top.

See Also
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12 Cheap Pasta Dishes for Broke College Students

9. Yummy pesto penne

Pesto is a great way to change up the flavor of your typical pasta dishes and is just as easy because it comes in a jar like all the other sauces. It is also easy to spice up a pesto dish with simple ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 box/bag of penne pasta
  • 1 jar of pesto
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of garlic or 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small bag of cherry tomatoes
  • 8 oz mozzarella perline
  • Parmesan to garnish
  • Basil or parsley to garnish

Cook the pasta until it is tender. In a separate, large pan, drizzle the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the cherry tomatoes until they start to welt and burst. Add the garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Heat the pesto in a separate, small pot until it starts to bubble slightly. Add the pesto and the tomatoes to the pasta in a large bowl. Mix in the mozzarella. Finally, garnish with the basil and parmesan.

12 Cheap Pasta Dishes for Broke College Students

10. Cream cheese alfredo

This dish has a simple and easy twist on alfredo sauce that will go great on any pasta! It requires a little more effort but it’ll be worth it. Here’s what you’ll need to get going:

  • 1 box/bag of spaghetti
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 8 oz block cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 8 oz shredded parmesan

Bring the pasta to a boil and cook until it is tender. Drain the pasta and set it aside. In a separate, large pan, place the butter over medium heat. Then, add the cream cheese after it has been cut into chunks. Add the garlic powder and stir until everything is combined. Add the whipping cream and broth slowly. Allow this to simmer for a bit. Finally, serve the pasta and pour the alfredo sauce over the noodles and garnish with the parmesan.

12 Cheap Pasta Dishes for Broke College Students

11. Cheesy bread crumb pasta

Similar to the 4 cheese pasta, you can mix and match your favorite cheeses and add as many as you want (however, we believe 4 is a good maximum). This dish has a little bit of crunch added to the mix that we know you’ll love. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 box/bag of your pasta of choice
  • 1/2 stick of salted butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs
  • 2 cups of spinach (optional)

Cook the pasta until it’s about more than half-way done. Drain the pasta and set aside while keeping about 1 cup of the pasta water. In a separate pan, bring it to medium heat and add the butter and flour. Once mixed, add the milk and stir in each cheese slowly. Add the cup of pasta water to the mix. Add the spinach and stir occasionally until it has softened. Place the pasta in a rectangular dish and mix the cheese sauce. Add some extra cheese on top as well as the bread crumbs and place into the oven until the pasta is completely cooked, the cheese has melted, and the bread crumbs have browned slightly.

12 Cheap Pasta Dishes for Broke College Students

12. Creamy Lemon chicken

Sometimes we want our pasta to be light but still keep us full. This dish has found the perfect balance and has made it easy to create. Here are all the items you’ll need:

  • 1 box/bag of your favorite pasta of choice
  • 2 chicken breasts (shredded)
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/s cup heavy whipping cream
  • 29 oz chicken broth
  • Parmesan to garnish

Cook and shred the chicken breasts ahead of time (season the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and lemon before you cook them). In a large pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil and add the garlic powder.  Stir for a few minutes and add the pasta and cook it until it is tender. Add the shredded chicken and whipping cream. Keep stirring for a few minutes and then let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

12 Cheap Pasta Dishes for Broke College Students

12 Cheap Pasta Dishes for Broke College Students
College is hard enough without worrying about what to cook and how expensive it’ll be. Try one of these cheap and easy pasta recipes, comment below and let us know how your dish turns out!

Featured image via pinterest.com/aberdeengielow
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