Dinner can be a frustrating time for students. For most, it’s the last thing you want to worry about at the tail-end of a stressful day and it can carry remnants of home and family. Dinnertime should be a time for celebration—a way to properly conclude the day and usher in the peace that night brings. By transforming dinner into a fun, low-stress activity, even the busiest student can create a meal that feeds and fosters community. Here are twelve sharable dinner ideas for students!
1. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Grilled cheese and tomato soup is a classic combination that makes easy shareable dinner ideas for a crowd. To create the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, toast heavily-buttered bread slices individually on a non-stick frying pan. Multi-grain bread is preferred, but almost any type of sandwich bread will do. Assemble sandwich by slathering mayonnaise one on side of one slice, place two slices of sharp cheddar cheese—or one slice of cheddar and one slice of swiss cheese—and finish with the corresponding bread slice. Grill sandwich, flipping constantly, until the outside of the bread is crisp and golden. There is nothing wrong with reheating store-bought tomato soup—doctoring it up with a few teaspoons of black pepper, basil, red pepper flakes.
2. Customizable Street Tacos
Street tacos are easily customizable and can be a go-to when in need of shareable dinner ideas. Any type of meat or meat-substitute can be used—simply grill the protein on the stovetop in a neutral oil like avocado or olive oil, season well with garlic, onion powder, ground cumin, and chilis powder. Grill, untouched until cooked through on both sides, shred, and set aside. Warm corn tortillas by your favorite method, working quickly to keep tortillas soft and pliable. For each taco, place shredded protein in the center of the tortilla and top with any combination of cheese, cabbige, your favorite salsa or guacamole, and sour cream. This is a great way to cook interactivity with your friends!
3. Bagel Pizzas
Bagel pizzas were a staple growing up, and are a great way to transform dinner into shareable dinner ideas. A pack of pre-sliced bagels—plain works well, garlic and onion flavor adds a kick—a jar of marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, and preferred pizza toppings are all you need to create tasty individual bagel pizzas. Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on each bagel slice, place slices on a parchment-lined cookie sheet facing up. Top bagel slices with cheese and a desired pizza toppings, and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted. This is one of the many great sharable dinner ideas to share with friends!
4. Ramen Carbonara
This Ramen Carbonara recipe is easily multiplied to create fun, sharable dinner ideas. First, grill about ten slices of bacon by applying the cold bacon directly onto a hot pan—keeping it covered and untouched until ready to flip, about 8-10 minutes per slide (using the lid as a shield against fat splatters). Moved cooked bacon to a serving bowl and pour most of the excess fat out of the pan, leaving the browned bacon bits. Add about one cup of chicken stock to the pan, a teaspoon of garlic, and roughly three tablespoons of butter, allowing broth to come to a gentle boil. Place the ramen block into the broth—turning the heat up to high to encourage evaporation of excess broth and disregard the salty seasoning packet. Quickly wisk one large egg with a sprinkle of black pepper and paprika, and incorporate the egg directly onto the cooking ramen block. Stir for about a minute and immediately remove from the heat, sprinkling with a generous amount of parmesan cheese and crumbled bacon.
5. Three-Cheese Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese
Three-Cheese Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese is a crowd-pleasing meal that can easily be transformed into shareable dinner ideas. Store-bought macaroni and cheese is perfect for this recipe. While preparing boxed macaroni according to their directions, grill a few slices of bacon by applying the cold bacon directly onto a hot pan—keeping it covered and untouched until ready to flip, about 8-10 minutes per slide (using the lid as a shield against fat splatters). Once the macaroni has cooked through, return it to the pot and add about 1/4 cup of milk and 1/3 a stick of butter—stir over low heat until milk, noodles, and butter have combined. Add 1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and pepper-jack cheeses, stirring all the while to prevent burning. Spoon mac ‘n cheese into serving bowls, sprinkling with bits of bacon, breadcrumbs, and parmesan cheese—placing under a boiler for no more than two minutes to brown.
6. Cheesy Chickpeas
While Cheesy Chickpeas is arguably one of the cheesier dishes listed, it is a meal that can be easily modified for shareable dinner ideas. After preheating the oven to 475 degrees, heat three tablespoons of olive oil over low heat, adding three large tablespoons of crushed garlic, frying for about one minute. Stir in about six ounces of tomato paste or your favorite marinara sauce—adding generous dashes of basil, orengo, red pepper flakes, and thyme. Drain and carefully pour in a can of chickpeas—as known as white beans or garbanzo beans—stirring until beans are well-coated. Transfer beans and sauce to a small casserole dish, cover with a heavy coating of mozzarella cheese and a few sprinkles of a sharp cheddar cheese and bake for roughly 15 minutes. Spinach and ham can also be added for a deeper flavor profile.
7. Creamy Pasta with Ham and Peas
Creamy Pasta with Ham and Peas is the ultimate comfort food, and can be multiplied in order to create sharable dinner ideas. Thicker noodles are preferred for this dish; in order to effectively season the noodles, boil them in equal parts water and chicken stock, adding a few dashes of oregano, garlic powder, and paprika to the boiling stock. Simmer your favorite Alfredo sauce in a shallow saucepan over a low flame until warmed through, adding half a can of drained peas, diced ham, and a few shakes of red pepper flakes. Place al dente noodles into sauce mixture, sprinkling lightly with black pepper and/or parmesan cheese. Transfer noodles to warmed serving bowls and spoon sauce mixture on top.
8. Open-faced Tuna Sandwiches
Open-faced tuna sandwiches are a simple and easy snack-turned-meal that can be turned into a multitude of shareable dinner ideas. First, lightly toast a few slices of your preferred bread—English muffins work well as individualized compartments for this—adding a single slice of Swiss or Provolone cheese to each slice of bread. While bread is toasting, pour a can of drained tuna into a bowl with a few squints of manayoise, your choice of mustard, and a shake of black pepper, mix well. Sliced almonds and a few shakes of smoked paprika go well here. Remove and plate the toasted bread, piling a few heaping spoonfuls atop each piece. This is one of the many great sharable dinner ideas that can be served during something like a study group.
9. Slow-cooker Chipotle-Honey Chicken
The slow-cooker Chipotle-Honey Chicken recipe makes a wonderful fix-it-and-forget-it that does not need to be multiplied in order to create a shareable dinner idea. Place two to three boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the bottom of a 5-quart slow-cooker with enough chicken stock to cover the bottom, and simply add 1 teaspoon onion powder, garlic powder, and a 7-ounce can of chipotles in adobe sauce over the chicken. Add a few teaspoons of honey—about one teaspoon for each chicken breast—and cover. Cook for about 4.5 hours, shredding the chicken breasts in the sauce and allow the chicken to absorb some of the sauce. This can be easily spooned over bowls of rice or added to tacos or quesadillas.
10. Slow-cooker BBQ Chicken
The slow-cooker BBQ Chicken recipe makes a wonderful fix-it-and-forget-it that does not need to be multiplied in order to create a shareable dinner idea. Place two to three boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the bottom of a 5-quart slow-cooker with enough chicken stock to cover the bottom, and simply add 1 teaspoon onion powder, garlic powder, and about a cup of your favorite BBQ sauce over the chicken. Add a few teaspoons of honey—about one teaspoon for each chicken breast—and cover. Cook for about 4.5 hours, shredding the chicken breasts in the sauce and allow the chicken to absorb some of the sauce. This can be eaten alone or added in ready-made biscuits to create miniature sandwiches.
Nachos are the pinnacle of university meals—tasty, cheap, easy to assemble, and fun to share—which makes them a prime contentor for sharable dinner ideas. Store-bought tortilla chips are great for this meal, preferably the larger type that act as a vehicle for loads of toppings. Spread chips on a parchment-lined baking sheet, top with a generous amount of shredded cheddar and pepper jack cheese blend, and broil on low for around 5 minutes. Optionally, warm queso dip mixed with a small jar of sliced jalapenos, stirring vigorously, to create a sauce as the chips are warming. Once warmed through, transfer cheesy chips onto plates—spooning queso dip top and adding extra toppings lie beans, sour cream, salsa, and guacamole. This is one of the many sharable dinner ideas that are wonderfully fun to share with friends.
12. Chili and Hot Links
Chili and Hot Links are a quick and satisfying meal that is can be easily multiplied are shared with a friends. Any variety of store-bought chili works well here. Warm one or two cans of chili according to package directions—stirring in a few handfuls of shredded Cheddar cheese or even a spoonful of queso dip. While the chili is warming, spear hot links once or twice and place under the broiler to heat through. Take the chili off the heat and spoon into serving bowls, carefully remove the hot links, and plate them as well—dressing as desired or adding to the chili. This is a wonderful addition to a collection of sharable dinner ideas that can be enjoyed with friends.