College is a difficult time for most students on multiple different levels. The stress and weight of the courseload, assignments, and more can feel impossible to bear for the length of the semester. Most college students find themselves in an unhealthy relationship with food at some point during their time at undergrad. Whether they are going through a tight time financially, are not hungry due to stress, or lack the time to get food, it can be difficult to eat three meals a day.
Here are some meal ideas that are easy to make, and are affordable on a college budget!
1. Microwave Oatmeal
While oatmeal is not the most exciting breakfast option in the world, oats are non-perishable and are really affordable! You can customize your bowl from the serving size to your liquid base of choice, to your delicious add-ins! Whether you choose to stock up at your local supermarket or grab some extra instant packets from your college’s cafeteria, you can have a healthy, filling breakfast at a low price tag. The meal ideas are endless when it comes to oatmeal so even if you have it every day, you can always add variety when necessary! Try these microwave oatmeal recipes out for yourself!
2. Yogurt Bowl
Whether you choose to go for flavored yogurt or plain, you cannot go wrong! Yes, yogurt can expire quickly but if you are intentional about eating it before the expiration date, you will not be wasting any money. Sometimes the cafeterias offer individual yogurt cups or other pre-made options. Stock up on what you can that’s free including yogurt, fruits, and granola so you can make your own breakfast in your room! Not everyone has time every day to go somewhere for breakfast, so having the option to make your own when you want is amazing. You can also buy larger containers of yogurt from the grocery store as well as various types of toppings! Try these granola and yogurt bowl breakfast ideas out for fun!
3. Meal Prep “Muffins”
If you have access to a stove, you might want to consider making easy meal prep breakfast options! These types of meal ideas are a simple way to make a week’s worth of breakfast in advance at a very affordable price. All you have to do is mix up your ingredients, add them to your muffin tin, and bake! Try these breakfast muffin recipes for some fun meal ideas!
4. Smoothies and Shakes
If you have access to or own a blender, blending up a protein shake or fruity smoothie is a great option for breakfast! It takes less than five minutes to toss everything into a blender and make a smoothie. You can save money by buying frozen fruit instead of fresh fruit! Use water instead of milk for even more savings. Try these easy smoothie recipes for delicious meal ideas!
5. Burrito Bowls
For lunch or dinner, instead of going for an unsatisfying salad, try making a burrito bowl instead! Not only are these easy to make, but you can completely control the cost of ingredients. Go ahead and meal prep a few bowls in advance so some of your afternoon and evening meals are ready for the week! Try this burrito bowl recipe for something that is actually filling.
6. Pasta With Protein
Instead of going with traditional ramen, if you have access to a stove or at least a microwave, you can make something that is much healthier and filling than ramen noodles! Feel free to experiment with different types of noodles, sauces, meat, and more until you find that perfect combination for yourself. Try this microwave pasta recipe to kick things off!
7. Microwave Ratatouille
Even if you live in a dorm and only have access to a microwave, you too can live out your Ratatouille dreams! We have all wanted to try that iconic recipe, why not try it out in college? Just visit your local farmer’s market or grocery store to gather a few ingredients and feel free to get creative with this easy meal idea!
8. Bento Boxes
These easy meals are a great option if you are not able to cook inside your room! Not only can you put these boxes together easily, but they are also surprisingly affordable as well. They are small enough to be packed away in your backpack for a meal at the library if you need to spend a long time inside hitting the books. Give this No Cook Greek Pita Bento box a chance for something filling and easy!
9. French Bread Pizza
Simply put, the price of take-out pizza can add up quickly. If you are craving pizza, but don’t want the take-out price tag, try making french bread pizza at home! Give this Caprese French Bread Pizza recipe a try to change things up.
10. Tuna Protein Box
While not everyone is a fan of this smelly fish, if you are a fan, this is a great snack or meal option for you! Sometimes in college, classes can happen at odd periods during the day, or you might be busy through mealtimes. No matter what your situation is if you are looking for something more filling than a snack, but not quite a meal, this is a great option! Try this Tuna Protein Box out for yourself and experiment until you find that perfect combination.
11. Avocado Toast
While avocado can be on the expensive side depending on what type of financial situation you are in, if you can afford them, they are a great snack or meal option! You can make a slice and eat it on your way to class or make it as a late-night snack. Try these avocado toast recipes for some fun meal ideas!
12. Pancake Snack Box
In college, everyone eats what they want whenever they want! There are no real breakfast or dinner foods, everything is fair game when you are hungry. Give a pancake meal box a try for something different than what you usually eat!
13. Eat Your Leftovers
If you finally splurged and went out to eat but could not finish it all, eat those leftovers! Ask for a to-go box, bring them back to your place, and re-heat them the next day. Not everything tastes as great as it did when it was freshly made, but when you are in college, every dollar counts so make sure you take advantage of “free” or already purchased food when you can!
Which of these meal ideas would you try? Comment which one looks tasty below!
Hi! My name is Hannah Warren and I just graduated from Mercer University with a B.A. in English. During my time at Mercer, I studied both Creative Writing and Media Studies so I have dabbled in multiple writing genres including fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, and more! Playwrighting and nonfiction are my favorite genres because more people relate to and understand the work when it is raw, genuine, and mentions different problems that most people are familiar with or have experienced first-hand. I have a bad habit of starting projects and not finishing them, but I am proud to say I am drafting a romance novel that I hope to have published one day! Thank you for taking the time to get to know me, and I hope you will continue to read more of my little articles in the future!