10 Budget-Friendly Recipes for College Students


As a college student, eating healthy and affordable meals can be challenging. With tight budgets and busy schedules, it’s easy to fall into the trap of fast food and takeout. But fear not! We’ve compiled a list of 10 budget-friendly recipes that are both delicious and easy to make. From classic sandwiches to hearty salads, these meals will keep you fueled throughout your hectic days without breaking the bank. So put down that instant ramen packet and let’s get cooking!

Ramen Noodle Soup

Ramen noodle soup is a classic college student meal that can be made on a budget. Not only is it cheap, but it’s also quick and easy to make. All you need is a pack of ramen noodles and some basic ingredients.

To start, bring water to boil in a pot and add the seasoning packet that comes with your ramen noodles. Next, add the noodles and cook for 3-5 minutes until they’re soft. You can also add vegetables like sliced carrots or bok choy to make it more nutritious.

If you want to take your ramen noodle soup up a notch, try adding protein like boiled eggs or tofu cubes. These additions will not only make your soup more filling but will also give you some much-needed nutrients.

Another way to elevate your ramen noodle soup game is by using homemade broth instead of the seasoning packet provided with the noodles. This takes longer than using pre-packaged seasoning, but it’s worth it as homemade broth gives better flavor without added preservatives.

Ramen Noodle Soup may seem like an unexciting meal choice; however, there are plenty of ways to spice things up while keeping this dish budget-friendly!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs is a classic dish that’s easy to make and budget-friendly for college students. To start off, cook the spaghetti according to package instructions. While the pasta cooks, combine ground beef or turkey with breadcrumbs, egg, garlic powder, salt, pepper and grated Parmesan cheese in a mixing bowl.

Use your hands to form small meatballs from the mixture. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat before adding in the meatballs until browned on all sides. Add tomato sauce to the skillet and let it simmer for about 10 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Once your spaghetti is cooked al dente, drain it well before serving it topped with flavorful meatballs and sauce. This recipe can be easily scaled up or down depending on how many servings you need.

Not only does this meal provide plenty of protein and carbs needed for long studying sessions but it also tastes delicious!

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Grilled cheese sandwich is a classic comfort food that is not only delicious but also easy to make. It’s perfect for college students who are on a tight budget and don’t have much time to cook. All you need is bread, butter, and cheese.

To start making the grilled cheese sandwich, heat up your skillet or griddle over medium heat. Spread some butter on one side of each slice of bread. Place one slice of bread in the skillet with the buttered side down.

Add a few slices of your favorite type of cheese on top of the bread in the skillet. Then place another slice of bread on top with its buttered side facing up.

Use a spatula to flip the sandwich over once it has turned golden brown and crispy on one side. Cook until both sides are evenly toasted and the cheese has melted inside.

You can customize your grilled cheese sandwich by adding different toppings such as ham, bacon bits or tomato slices between layers before cooking them together in buttery delight.

With just three simple ingredients and minimal effort involved, this quick meal will satisfy any craving for gooey cheesy goodness without breaking the bank!

Turkey and Cheese Sandwich

One of the easiest and most popular budget-friendly meals for college students is a turkey and cheese sandwich. With just a few ingredients, you can make a quick and delicious meal that will keep you full throughout the day.

Start by toasting two slices of bread in your toaster or on a pan with some butter. While your bread is toasting, grab some deli-sliced turkey and cheese from your fridge.

Once your bread is toasted, add mayo or mustard to one slice (or both if you prefer). Then, place several pieces of turkey on top followed by a slice of cheese.

Top it off with another piece of toast and press down gently so that everything sticks together. Cut in half or quarters and enjoy!

If you want to mix things up, try adding some spinach leaves or sliced tomatoes for extra flavor and nutrients. You can also experiment with different types of cheese like cheddar or Swiss.

Not only is this sandwich affordable but it’s also portable which makes it perfect for taking on-the-go between classes or while studying at the library.

PB&J Sandwich

PB&J Sandwiches are a classic and simple meal that college students can easily make on a budget. All you need is a few slices of bread, peanut butter, and jelly.

To start making your PB&J sandwich, grab two slices of bread. You can use any type of bread you like – white, wheat, or even gluten-free if needed.

Next, spread the peanut butter on one slice of bread evenly. If you’re feeling adventurous, try using almond or cashew butter instead for some variety.

Then add your favorite flavor of jelly to the other slice of bread. Grape and strawberry are popular choices but feel free to experiment with different flavors like raspberry or blueberry jam.

Once both slices are covered in spreadings place them together with their respective sides facing each other and press down gently so that they stick together firmly.

Your delicious PB&J sandwich is now ready to eat! It’s perfect for packing in your backpack for lunch between classes or eating as a quick snack at home while studying.

Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is a classic dish that’s easy to make and perfect for college students on a budget. It’s also versatile, as you can add various ingredients to suit your taste preferences.

To start making chicken salad, boil chicken breasts until they’re fully cooked. Once done, let them cool down before shredding the meat into small pieces.

Next, mix in some mayonnaise with the shredded chicken until it reaches your desired consistency. You can also add other ingredients like celery, onions, salt and pepper to give it more flavor and texture.

For added crunchiness, consider throwing in some chopped nuts or seeds such as almonds or sunflower seeds. Alternatively, you can use grapes or dried cranberries for sweetness.

Serve the chicken salad over a bed of greens such as lettuce or spinach for a nutritious meal option. Chicken salad makes an excellent lunch idea that’s both satisfying and healthy.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad is a classic and delicious option for college students who want to eat healthy without breaking the bank. This salad is easy to make, requires few ingredients, and can be customized according to individual tastes.

To start off, wash and dry a head of romaine lettuce. Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces and place them in a large mixing bowl. Next, add some croutons for crunchiness and grated parmesan cheese for extra flavor.

Now it’s time to prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together some olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic cloves, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper until well combined. Pour this over your salad mixture in the larger bowl.

Toss everything together until all ingredients are evenly coated with dressing. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Adding grilled chicken or shrimp is also an excellent way of adding protein while still keeping it budget-friendly. Plus it’ll help keep you fuller longer! Enjoy!

Quinoa Salad

Looking for a healthy and budget-friendly meal option? Look no further than quinoa salad! This versatile dish can be customized to fit your personal taste preferences while also providing essential nutrients.

Start by cooking the quinoa according to package instructions. Then, add in your choice of veggies such as bell peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes. For added protein, mix in some chickpeas or black beans.

To give your salad an extra kick of flavor, consider adding fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro. And don’t forget about the dressing! A simple vinaigrette made with olive oil and lemon juice is a great option.

Not only is this dish easy to make and delicious, but it’s also packed with nutritional benefits. Quinoa is high in fiber and contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete protein source.

So next time you’re looking for a healthy meal that won’t break the bank, whip up some quinoa salad!

Fruit Salad

Fruit salad is a healthy and refreshing snack that college students can easily make on a budget. All you need is an assortment of fresh fruits, such as berries, melons, kiwi, grapes, and pineapple.

To prepare the fruit salad, wash all the fruits thoroughly and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Then mix them together in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

One great thing about fruit salad is that it’s customizable to your taste preferences. For added sweetness, drizzle honey or maple syrup over the top. You could also add some nuts or seeds for crunch.

Another benefit of fruit salad is its nutritional value. Fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which help keep your body healthy while studying hard at college.

Making fruit salad can be a fun bonding experience with roommates or friends. Try experimenting with different combinations of fruits each time you make it!

In conclusion Fruit Salad might be seen as just another simple dish but when done right it’s one of the best ways to maintain good health without breaking your bank account!


Yogurt is an excellent and budget-friendly option for college students looking for a healthy snack or breakfast option. It’s low in calories, high in protein, and packed with beneficial probiotics that can improve gut health.

One of the best things about yogurt is its versatility. You can enjoy it plain, mix in fruit or granola, use it as a substitute for sour cream or mayo in recipes, or even make your own frozen yogurt.

When selecting yogurt at the grocery store, look for options that are low in added sugars and high in live cultures. Greek yogurt is also a great choice because it has double the protein of regular yogurt.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try making your own homemade yogurt using just milk and a starter culture. It’s surprisingly easy to do and can save you money on buying pre-made options.

Incorporating yogurt into your diet is an affordable way to stay healthy while also enjoying a delicious treat.


We have seen that eating on a budget as a college student does not mean settling for boring or unhealthy meals. With these 10 budget-friendly recipes, you can enjoy tasty and nutritious dishes without breaking the bank. From classic sandwiches to refreshing salads, there’s something for everyone to try.

Remember, being creative with your ingredients and using seasonal produce can also help keep your costs down while still enjoying delicious meals. So don’t be afraid to experiment in the kitchen and find what works best for you.

A healthy diet is essential for academic success, so make sure you’re taking care of yourself by fueling your body with wholesome foods. By incorporating these recipes into your meal plan, you’ll be one step closer to achieving your goals both inside and outside of the classroom!


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