Low-Budget, Dorm-Friendly Recipes
Having to meet the budget is a real concern in colleges and universities; most student budget goes to food. However, losing budget over bad cafeteria food is far worse than having homemade leftover pasta for three consecutive days. We know students must make it through the weeks by eating ramen, but what if we tell you that there is a solution, and it is to make budget-friendly dorm food recipes instead of reaching for those tempting instant cup noodles?
Living in dorms isn’t easy, and having to cook food with almost no equipment and ingredients is even harder. But for the recipes we have on our list, all you need is a waffle maker or a hot pan—a microwave and even a mug can get you through. You can turn normal ingredients into a pretty incredible home cook with the right recipes—and we have 15 affordable dorm food ideas for you!
Most of these easy healthy meals for college students are ready within 10 minutes, making them perfect for whipping up between classes or for late-night study breaks. From ramen hacks to meals in a mug, you’ll be blown away by these low-cost college meal ideas you can make right from your dorm room.
6 Easy College Meals and Recipies for Students
The ingredients for the following easy healthy college meals hardly cost 10 pounds, and you can save the food to eat for a second time or perhaps three times a day!
1. Ramen Stir Fry
Why not get rid of the flavour packet for a while and turn your attention from that super cheap, pre-measured serving to quick-cooking noodles you can do anything with! Get your choice of mixed veggies, chop them off to your likeness, and pair them with a pack of noodles. This ramen stir fry recipe is an easy, inexpensive, and flavorful dish perfect for a quick lunch, mid-snack, and weeknight meal. You can eat it 24/7.
- 2 ramen noodles packets
- 1 cup cabbage sliced
- 2 teaspoons oil
- 4 cups of vegetables sliced (tomatoes, onions, capsicum)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
- 1 spoon of hoisin sauce
- 1/4th cup of warm water
- 1 spoon of soy sauce
- 1/4th spoon of cornstarch mixed in water
- Salt, red pepper flakes & black pepper to taste
- Boil the noodles until slightly al dente.
- Stir fry the frozen mix vegetables until tender-crisp.
- Toss noodles with the cooked vegetables and sauces to coat and serve.
Total Cost: Ramen £0.65 (oils and sauces home cupboard), mixed veg £1.00/kg. The total meal will cost you around £2.00.
Variations: If you like, you can add tomato paste to your pasta and eat the veggies as a side or eat the leftover stir fry for breakfast.
2. Chickpeas and Spinach Curry
This is a perfect meal for breezy autumn nights; the hearty chickpea and spinach curry will warm up your cold-down mood. It is packed with flavour, and it’s delicious and filling enough to finally bring vegetarians and carnivores together over one meal. It is one of our top easy meals for college students.
- 1 large onion (chopped)
- 2 garlic cloves and ginger (chopped)
- 40gms of butter, oil or ghee ( whatever you have in your home pantry)
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- Curry powder(1 tablespoon), turmeric powder (1 teaspoon) and ground cinnamon.
- 350 gm of chickpeas
- 450 ml vegetable stock
- salt and ground black pepper
- Bunch of spinach, chopped, discard the stems
- Make a puree of ginger, garlic and onions.
- Take a pan or wok, heat the butter or oil and add that puree, tomatoes, and spices. Once added, stir the mixture for five minutes.
- Add about 3/4 of the veg stock, salt and pepper to taste and chickpeas. Bring the dish to a boil, reduce the heat and let it rest for 20 minutes. Don’t let the stock dry. Otherwise, there won’t be any curry.
- Test seasoning and serve, garnished with chopped spinach.
Total Cost: Chickpeas £0.60 (oils and sauces home cupboard), veg stock £1.07/100g and spinach £7.60/kg. The total meal will cost you £3.00 for three meals.
Variations: If you like, you can oil the spinach, add sauces, and later eat it with salad or bread. However, curry is the perfect mid-study meal for sure.
3. Toast Pizza
Pizza melts or bread pizza are like a cross between your two favourite comfort foods: pizza and garlic bread. They’re quick, easy, and the perfect mid-day meal! Toasties are the perfect meal when you are broke and looking for easy healthy college meals. Okay, it’s not that healthy of an option, but it is definitely healthier than having pop-tarts!
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon grated parmesan
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 slices of hearty bread
- 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 tablespoon pizza sauce
- Pepperoni slices
- Stir the butter till melted.
- Mix the grated parmesan and seasoning in a bowl. And then add the butter to the mixture.
- Spread the Parmesan butter over one side of each slice of bread.
- Place shredded mozzarella on one slice of bread.
- Add sliced pepperoni and remaining cheese.
- Cook the sandwich over medium heat until golden brown, cut it in half and serve!
Total Cost: Pepperoni slices £0.71/100g, £0.55/100g, £0.15/100g (oils and sauces home cupboard). The total meal will cost you £2.00, and you can make toast as you like.
Variations: If you like, you can skip the pepperoni and sauce and have a cheese sandwich, perfect to pair with evening tea.
4. Instant Mac and Cheese
Are you a broke student searching “cheap meals for college students” on google? Drop your search now because we have one for you right now. Easy mac and cheese in a mug. It’s simple, delicious and quick to make.
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup elbow macaroni
- ½ cup cheese of choice
- Put macaroni in a mug and pour in water
- Microwave on high for 8 minutes (pause twice at the 5th and 2nd last-minute to stir and add more water if necessary.
- Add cheese to the mixture with the remaining at the bottom of the mug.
- If cheese does not completely melt, pop the mug back in the microwave for 30-60 seconds. Stir, then enjoy!
Total Cost: You must have pepperoni slices, cheese and pasta in your cupboard for this recipe to cost you £0.00. The bulk ingredients will cost you £4, and you can get about 5 cups of mac n cheeses from it, costing you around £0.8 per meal!
Variations: If you like, you can spread the mac and cheese on your toast and eat it like a sandwich for breakfast. Yum!
5. Stuffed Baked Potatoes
Potatoeeessssssss…who doesn’t like them? Whether roasted, mashed or fried—there’s no wrong way to eat them. Get creative with your potatoes, and bake them to perfection with this quick recipe.
- 2 giant potatoes
- 1 cube of butter
- Cheese (Mozzarella, Parmesan, Parmigiano – Reggiano or Cheddar) which you like
- Wash the potatoes and pat dry them.
- Poke the potatoes 5 to 6 times with a fork and cut them in the middle lengthwise
- Microwave the potato on high for approximately six minutes, flipping once halfway through.
- Take the potatoes out of the oven, add cheese, and put it back in the oven for 3 minutes.
- Serve it with sauces and sparkling water.
Total Cost: Potatoes £0.83/kg, cheese £1.63/100g, butter/250g £1.75. The total cost of this recipe will be approximately £2.00, and you will have leftover ingredients for another meal or two!
Variations: You can cut the leftover potatoes into four cuts, bake them to perfection and voila, you have potato wedges.
6. Couscous Mediterranean Style
This is a Mediterranean spin on normal couscous. It is one of the easy healthy meals for college students. It has everything, from crunchy veggies to spicy and tangy sauces.
- ?¾ cup of chicken broth
- ?¾ cup of whole wheat couscous
- Cherry tomatoes
- Chopped bell peppers and spring onions
- 1 spoon of fresh sage (chopped)
- 2 spoons of fresh lemon juice
- 4 teaspoons of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to your taste
- Boil the chicken broth and add couscous to it.
- Remove the broth from heat and let it cool down a little.
- Fluff your meal with a fork.
- Mix the veggies and couscous into a big bowl and enjoy.
Total Cost: Chicken broth £1.20, fresh sage £0.95, bell peppers £0.48, spring onion £0.49, and the rest of the seasoning from your kitchen cupboard. The total cost of this salad will be approximately £3.00.
Variations: you can make chicken soup from the leftover broth and veggies. Save the ingredients later and make a salad on a movie night with tacos.
These dishes are easy to prep, and it takes barely 10 to 15 minutes to make them. You can make more easy healthy college meals with the leftover veggies and broth.
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