8 Best Meals for College Students on a Budget

By JoAnna DiCicco on February 19, 2017

Let’s face it: the dining hall just doesn’t cut it sometimes. You want a real, home-cooked meal, but you haven’t got the money to prepare it.

Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a list of some cheap meals that you can cook yourself without breaking the bank.

Pasta Dishes

1. Macaroni and Cheese

Image via Thecountrycontessa.com

Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. If you don’t have the time to prepare it, go to the supermarket and just buy a single box, super cheap!

Estimated Preparation Time: 1 hour
Estimated Cost: $10

2. Vegetable Lasagna

Image via Allrecipes.com

A hearty, filling meal that will remind you of home and keep your stomach warm and happy.

Estimated Preparation Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Estimated Cost: $15

3. Bow Ties with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cream

Image via Allrecipies.com

A delicious meal that looks and tastes gourmet, but costs less than $20, and can be eaten in the comfort of your own home!

Estimated Preparation Time: 45 Minutes
Estimated Cost: $15

4. Spaghetti and Meatballs

Image via Natashaskitchen.com

A classic pasta dish, just like mom used to make. Ready in minutes (especially if you use frozen meatballs, which are also a cheap alternative!)

Estimated Prep Time: 15 minutes
Estimated Cost: $10


5. Simple Soft Tacos

Image via MissionMenus.com

A cheaper option than Chipotle or Chili’s, and there’s always leftovers!

Estimated Preparation Time: 15 Minutes
Estimated Cost: $10

6. Chicken Tacos

Image via McCormick.com

Delicious, healthy, chicken tacos — a dish you can’t get at Taco Bell! This goes great with a side salad, or, if you’re feeling daring, put your side salad right inside the shell, and enjoy it all together in one bite!

Estimated Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Estimated Cost: $10

Chicken Dishes

7. Lemon Rosemary Chicken Thighs

Image via Myrecipes.com

This meal offers a hearty serving of meat, vegetables, and carbs at a price just right for college students to afford. The recipe serves six, so you can share with friends or just have plenty of leftovers. A week’s worth of meals made in just one night for less than $10!

Estimated Preparation Time: 35 minutes
Estimated Cost: $5

8. Italian Chicken Skewers

Image via Delish.com

This recipe will remind you of a summertime barbecue, right in the comfort of your college dorm room.

Estimated Preparation Time: 35 minutes
Estimated Cost: $10

JoAnna is a senior at The College of New Jersey with a finance major and a professional writing minor. She is excited to graduate and start life in the real world, applying all the experiences and education that she learned throughout the years to her adult life. When she is not working or at school, JoAnna loves to spend time with her family, friends, and boyfriend. She is obsessed with makeup, dogs, and all kinds of food. JoAnna has also written articles for Biznob.com and Automate Excel.

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