The 10 Best Budget-Friendly Recipes for College Students

I rarely cooked meals in college. I had a meal plan all four years (🤷🏻‍♀️) and despite living in a house one year with a functioning kitchen, I never even tried. I wish I had though! As I read through Louisa’s draft, I thought that not only are these recipes great for college students, they’d be perfect for that first few of years in the real world too.

The 10 Best Budget-Friendly Recipes for College Students

Guest post by Louisa from Living Lou

I honestly cannot believe that it is almost September, where has this summer gone! I always get excited around September, even though I’m not going back to school, I still get that fresh start feeling. This summer has been pretty busy for me, so I’m definitely ready to settle into a routine again and slow down a little bit.

If you’re heading to college this year or starting a new job, these ten recipes are perfect for you! I find that I spend a lot more money in the summer on activities and travel, so September and October are months where I try to save some money, and these recipes are perfect for this time of year!

1. Quick and spicy tomato egg skillet

Eggs are one of the cheapest proteins out there, and this dish is one of my go-tos. Grab a jar of your favorite pasta sauce, and you are good to go.

2. Lemon thyme roasted chicken

Buying a whole chicken is a lot cheaper than buying chicken breasts. I like to roast a chicken on the weekend and eat it throughout the week—this recipe is my favorite and you probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry.

3. Baked salmon cakes

Fish is definitely one of the more expensive ingredients, but buying canned fish is way more affordable. These salmon cakes use sweet potato for extra flavor!

4. Apple and caramelized onion grilled cheese

Everyone loves grilled cheese! It’s cheap and incredibly delicious. This grilled cheese is taken to the next level with caramelized onions, which are an incredibly affordable way to amp up the flavor in pretty much any dish.

5. Leek and potato soup

This is always one of my favorite soups. My mom always made this soup growing up and for a good reason! Potatoes and leeks are two ingredients that are cheap, and their flavors complement each other perfectly.

6. Lighter tuna salad pockets

I always have a can of tuna in my cupboard, and on really busy days, sometimes I’ll just grab a can of tuna and have that for dinner with some veggies. If I do have a few extra moments, I guarantee that I’ll be making this tuna salad.

7. Perfect roasted chicken thighs

Chicken thighs are the other budget-friendly cut of chicken available. This is one of those standby recipes and techniques that you can use over and over again.

8. One-pan chicken with cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and carrots

Theis one-pan dish is literally the perfect meal prep recipe to make on a Sunday. Everyone loves this recipe—my roommate actually makes it all the time!

9. Blueberry overnight oats

I have this recipe in my fridge right now for breakfast tomorrow morning! Oatmeal is so cheap, and while my recipe uses blueberries, you could totally use whatever fruit is on sale at the store.

10. Rice and beans

I feel like every cuisine has their own version of beans and rice, these are staple ingredients for students and anyone on a budget! My recipe has a bit of a Mexican-flair.

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Diana Met Danny

Oh my gosh! So happy I discovered your blog. These are great meals, I mostly stay with a beans and brown rice dish. I add a shredded Mexican blend cheese and Tapatio sauce if I’m feeling extra special that night.


Love this! I’m living off campus for the first time this semester and can’t wait to give these a try! If you have any other tips for living off campus on a budget, I’d love to hear it! (Or just living on your own for the first time)


The one-pan chicken, cauliflower, brussel sprout and carrot dish looks right up my alley! I actually make chicken with those exact vegetables all the time, but I cook everything separately. It will be so much easier to throw it all in one pan!

Mia |