Categories: Food & Drink

Easy Meals For Students On A Budget

Cooking in college is tough. Either you don’t have a kitchen or you don’t have the money to make a filling meal. What if I told you there’s an easy, cheaper way to feed yourself than by ordering Doordash every night? Here are nine easy meals for students on a budget, both for time and money.

1. Breakfast Wraps

Calling all cheese lovers: this breakfast wrap is the meal for you. All it requires is cream cheese, frozen hashbrowns, eggs, and tortilla bread. Each of these ingredients can be found at Trader Joe’s for a low cost. I like to use the Folios cheese wraps (which Trader Joe’s carries) in lieu of bread, but to each their own. The directions are straightforward: you simply spread some cream cheese onto your tortilla, place your microwaved hash brown and cooked egg over it, wrap it up, and voila. Now you have a tasty, on-the-go treat.

2. Microwave Stir-fry

Stir-fry is one of the easiest meals to replicate using a microwave. Every grocery store sells instant rice, and I’ve never seen it exceed $2. Heat up the rice of your choice (I prefer the vegetable fried rice from Trader Joe’s) and throw in some veggies. Baby carrots are a solid option, but if you want some extra flavor, toss some chives on top. Hit up the frozen aisle for your protein. I like to mix in Trader Joe’s chicken-less orange chicken into my rice; the sauce really zhooshes it up. Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel Seasoning is also great to sprinkle on top.

3. Gigi Hadid’s Spicy Vodka Pasta

I realize that Gigi Hadid did not invent vodka pasta. Nonetheless, I have her to thank for this incredible recipe. I make it at least once a week. This meal is a bit more involved than the others—you’ll definitely need access to a stove. You’ll also need a lot of ingredients, including penne pasta, heavy cream, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, basil, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and vodka. These products are good to have around the kitchen, as they’re easy to incorporate in other meals. For the full recipe, visit the link here:

4. Boboli Pizza

Make dinner fun for you and your roommates: host a pizza night! My favorite pre-made crust to make pizza with is the Boboli brand. If you’re a fan of soft, fluffy crust, Boboli is the one for you. I’ve seen them sold at Target and Market Basket, but I’m sure they’re available at other grocery stores. Spread some store bought sauce on top or make your own. I prefer to make my own, though it’s cheaper to just get Prego. Personalize your pizza to your liking! Am I the only person who likes pineapples as a topping? 

5. Caesar Wrap

I’m obsessed with caesar salad in any capacity. Caesar wraps are somehow ten times better. They’re also simple to make. To save on cash, I buy Trader Joe’s caesar salad kit instead of getting the ingredients individually. For a pre-made salad kit, their caesar salad tastes surprisingly fresh. The only other product you need is the wrap bread. If you decide to make the breakfast wraps from earlier, you can reuse the same wraps for this recipe. I’m a vegetarian, so I never put chicken in my caesar wraps. But if you want the extra protein, then go for it!

6. Buffalo Cauliflower

This next meal is toaster-friendly. You don’t need an oven to bake your buffalo cauliflower wings, making it an easy meal to replicate in your room. You only need a couple of ingredients: cauliflower, buffalo sauce, bread crumbs, and milk. Ranch, blue cheese, and chives are all optional, though recommended. To make your “wings,” cut up your cauliflower into small florets, dip them in milk and bread crumbs, and stick them in your toaster. Once they’re done in the toaster, drench them in buffalo sauce. For the full recipe, visit the link:

7. Overnight Oats

Overnights oats are not for everyone, but they’re definitely for me. If you’re running late to your lecture, overnight oats are the perfect on-the-go meal. Make them the night before by following these simple steps. First: fill up a mason jar with half a cup of rolled oats. Second: season with cinnamon and a sprinkle of sea salt. Third: mix in whatever you want, like chocolate chips, peanut butter, jam, and/or maple syrup for sweetening. Add some milk and refrigerate your oats overnight. When fall comes around, I can’t wait to upgrade my overnight oats with pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice seasoning!

See Also

8. Black Bean Sweet Potato Enchiladas

These meatless enchiladas are enough to make you drool. While you can’t make these in the microwave, they’re an easy meal to toss in the oven. Obviously, you’ll need sweet potatoes, black beans, and enchilada sauce for this recipe. You’ll also need to purchase red onions, garlic, black and cayenne pepper, chili powder, jack cheese, and tortillas. Jalapeños, cilantro, and sour cream are optional toppings, though I know they’re all divisive foods. I don’t know why, but I can’t stand the taste of cilantro. Too bitter. For the full recipe, visit this link:

9. Ramen

Give your microwaveable ramen a makeover. All you need to do is boil two cups of water, stir in some ramen seasoning and butter, and place everything into a bowl after two minutes. This is when you can get fancy. Eggs are great to add into your ramen, whether they’re fried or hard boiled. My personal favorite topping is green onions—you can never have too much. Peanuts, corn, and bean sprouts are other solid options. I love to drizzle some sriracha on top to give my ramen an extra kick. For more ideas for toppings, check out this link:

Obviously, your meals in college aren’t going to be gourmet. But anything beats the dining hall food, right? Get creative with what you can microwave!

Is your roommate struggling to find an easy meal to make? Share this article with them!

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Jill Schuck

Hi everyone! My name is Jill, and I'm a senior at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. There, I'm studying creative writing and sociology, with plans to work in publishing. Aside from reading and writing, I enjoy traveling and practicing self-care. If you want to connect, follow my Instagram @jillschuck!

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