75 Go-To Recipes for College Students
Going to college means you’re on your own for meals. Rather than depending on dining halls and fast food, try these easy-to-make recipes. Not only are they budget-friendly, but these recipes include tips and techniques that are the foundations of any good cook worth their grilled cheese or chocolate cake, like roasting a chicken and making soup. College is a time for learning—both in the classroom and kitchen.
Shrimp and Ramen Stir-Fry
The college student's standby gets a serious upgrade in this tasty stir-fry supper. Using quick-cooking, packaged ramen noodles (minus the seasoning packet) as a base, simply bulk them up with frozen shrimp, veggies, and a quick and flavorful homemade sauce to create a weeknight-friendly dinner. Added bonus: The leftovers make for an excellent next-day packed lunch.
The Ultimate Grilled Cheese
Sometimes there’s nothing better (or easier) than a grilled cheese. All you need is bread, cheese, and mayonnaise. Enjoy with a cup of tomato soup for a comforting meal.
Chicken Alfredo Soup
Inspired by the favorite pasta dish, this creamy Chicken Alfredo Soup comes together in no time with the help of a few store-bought shortcuts. Rotisserie chicken, frozen peas, and a jar of Alfredo sauce, which serves as the backbone of this highly comforting pot of soup, keep your hands-on prep to a minimum. This convenience factor, coupled with the fact that it’s is a guaranteed kid-pleasing recipe, makes this soup a perfect go-to for hectic weeknights. While it is undeniably luscious and satisfying, the soup is surprisingly not overly heavy or right. We used Gia Russa brand sauce, but feel free to use your own favorite. Served with a crusty bread, a green salad, and a glass of white wine, this quick and easy soup makes for an outstanding dinner on chilly nights.
Whole-Grain Veggie Burrito Bowl
This is a Tex-Mex riff on the Korean rice dish bibimbap, in which various toppings are arranged over a bed of rice. Here, burrito bowl must-haves such as smoky black beans, fresh pico de gallo, and slaw top brown rice.
When we say easy, we mean easy. You don't even have to cook the noodles for this speedy yet impressive lasagna that always gets rave reviews. Lasagna is a family favorite, but this version is extra-special because it only requires 5 quick ingredients: ground beef, pasta sauce, lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese, and shredded mozzarella (we don’t count the water!). It’s rated 5 stars for a reason. Pro tip: Make a double batch: Enjoy one now and freeze one for a quick meal on a busy weeknight.
Easy Chicken Parmesan
This chicken parmesan is an Italian classic that's easy to make and easy on your budget.
Fruit Crumble For One
Comforting and easy to make for one (or one dozen).
Instant Pot Pork Shoulder
How to Make Baked Oatmeal
This breakfast treat is a mix between an oatmeal bar and traditional cream breakfast oatmeal.
California Roll Salad with Sriracha-Lime Dressing
This light, fresh salad is a fun and easy way to enjoy a delicious sushi experience without having to actually roll sushi.
Single Serving Shrimp Fried Rice
Cooking for one doesn’t have to be boring or a hassle. This easy and delicious dinner comes together in one pan and in less time than it takes to go through a drive-thru.
Greek-Style Chicken Salad
This Greek-style main dish salad features parsley salad topped with homemade chicken salad and pita chips. Make extra chicken salad to snack on throughout the week.
Spaghetti and Easy Meatballs
Turkey and Swiss Wrap with Carrot Salad
Prepare this wrap with a carrot salad for lunch or a light dinner.
How to Make 4-Ingredient Breakfast Soufflé
The secret to making this personal-sized soufflé is canned crescent dough.
Easy Chicken Biryani
Flavored with fragrant, Indian spices, traditional chicken biryani is an incredible comfort food, but it typically requires cooking the chicken and vegetables separately, using several pans. Our simplified method delivers the classic, crave-worthy flavors with a little less effort and cleanup.
This easy pancake recipe is just as simple as using a box mix.
Everything Smoked-Salmon Summer Rolls
Ham Biscuit Casserole
Teriyaki Cheesesteak Ramen
Chicken, Broccoli, and Brown Rice Casserole
Enjoy this classic, comforting casserole when you’re feeling homesick.
Sheet Pan Fried Eggs
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Baked sweet potatoes are terrific with just a little butter and seasoning. Purists will love this recipe but if you need a little something extra, try sprinkling brown sugar or ground cinnamon over the top for a finishing touch.
Instant Pot Two-Minute Taco Soup
Dinner doesn’t get any easier than this tasty taco soup that the whole family will love.
Instant Pot Rice
Lighter Sloppy Joes
This recipe for sloppy joes replaces half the meat with nutty-hearty canned chickpeas, which saves money and fat.
Simply the Best Guacamole
Always remember: The best guacamole is the simplest guacamole.
Let the slow cooker do the work and enjoy this chili when you get home from class.
Orange-Almond Chicken-and-Cabbage Bowls
Make these low-calorie, no-cook bowls ahead for an easy lunch or dinner when time is tight. Change up the fruit, nut, or protein for whatever you have on hand.
Easy Roasted Butternut Squash
This will quickly become one of your favorite ways to prepare squash. Warning: Your kitchen will smell heavenly.
Baking the potato in the microwave makes this dish a snap to prepare.
Sausage, Gravy, and Egg Breakfast Sandwiches
This breakfast sandwich will rival what you get at the drive-through.
Breakfast Meatballs and Spud-Ghetti
Kind of like breakfast for dinner, but still breakfast.
Grilled Margherita Sandwiches
This quick 5-ingredient entrée transforms a the classic pizza combo into a melty grilled sandwich.
Everything Bagel Roasted Salmon
Everything bagel seasoning is an easy but unexpected way to add punch to salmon; the onion flavor is subtle, and the added crunch provides a nice textural contrast to the tender fish. Brushing on honey and mustard adds the perfect sweet and tangy kick.
How to Make a Walking Taco
Make the Walking Taco your trusty sidekick when you’re looking for a tasty meal on the go.
Instant Pot Lasagna
Weeknight dinner doesn't get easier than this—we're talking cheesy, gooey, and ready in a flash. The next time the craving for hearty, comfort food strikes, just remember, Instant Pot Lasagna has your back.
Copycat Longhorn Parmesan Crusted Chicken
Sure, they may be known for steak (being a steakhouse and all), but everyone knows that Longhorn’s Parmesan Crusted Chicken is the real MVP on their menu. Enjoy this cheesy chicken dinner any night you please with our easy copycat recipe.
Easy Oven Rice
For anyone who’s ever struggled with cooking rice on the stovetop (and no, it’s not just you…), this easy oven rice recipe is for you. Say hello to your new foolproof method for perfect, fluffy rice—every time. The only real “tricks” to nailing this baked rice recipe are avoiding over-stirring and fighting the urge to “peek” while the rice is cooking.
Loaded Faux-Tato Soup
This super easy soup is just like a loaded baked potato, but has half the carbs thanks to a secret ingredient - cauliflower. It's silky, thick, hearty, and filling, and doesn't contain any grainy cauliflower bits. The toppings - bacon, cheese, sour cream, and fresh scallions - cut the soup's richness by adding crunch, tang, and savory flavors. Go ahead and make it for the family on a chilly night. Nobody will know you're faking it.
Easy Chili-Bean Dip
Get your dip on with this super easy, 7-ingredient Tex-Mex dip. Just combine your ingredients and heat them together on the stove. Then top the creamy dip with any cheese – we love sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, or queso fresco – along with black olives, green onion, and anything else that strikes your fancy. If you can’t find canned pico, you can use Rotel diced tomatoes, instead.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnamon Toast
Need to use up a small amount of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal that won't fill a bowl? Use it as a crunch-tastic accent for toast instead. This fun twist on cinnamon toast is easy enough for kids to make, and thanks to the cereal, no additional cinnamon sugar is needed.
Sheet Pan Steak with Blistered Veggies
We have a saying around here: A good sheet pan dinner is always a winner. And this quick and easy steak and veggie supper is a shining example. It’s a delicious taste of what cookbook author Julie Grimes offers in $10 Dinners: Delicious Meals for a Family of 4 that Don't Break the Bank; grab a copy today for more family-friendly recipes that are equally friendly on your wallet.
This perfect, butter pasta is super easy to make and will serve a group of kids for less than $3.00. Pack it in a school lunch (and cause some serious lunch envy), serve it as an after-school snack or add it to the spread at any summer or pool party. Hold on to a little bit of that pasta water: mixed with the butter and cheese, it keeps the pasta from being too dry.
Quick Chicken and Dumplings
Flour tortillas stand in for the traditional biscuit dough so you can bring this crowd-pleaser from stove to table in minutes.
With a touch of sweet spice, cream cheese richness, and tart apple crunch, these 8-ingredient melty-sweet sandwich triangles are sure to earn grade-A ratings. Enjoy as a quick-fix snack or dessert!
Easy Tomato Salad with Basil Chimichurri and Ricotta
For a simple and elegant way to serve your summer farmers' market tomatoes, this speedy salad is perfect. Dressed in a basil chimichurri and speckled with creamy dollops of ricotta cheese, this show-stopping side is perfect for effortless entertaining.
Microwave Sweet Potato Chips
To make these tasty chips, you'll need just 5 ingredients and a mandoline to slice the potato thin enough to crisp.
Hazelnut-Sugar Cookie S'mores
In this takeoff the campfire classic, sugar cookies replace the graham crackers and a microwave replaces the campfire.
Creamy Chicken Quesadillas
A creamy base helps the cheese go further and keeps the chicken moist. For a crisp exterior, coat the filled tortillas with cooking spray instead of coating the pan.
Roast Chicken with Vegetables
Roast a chicken on Sunday and use it throughout the week. Add to wraps, sandwiches, salads, tacos, and grain salads for an easy (and homemade) protein fix.
Quick Parmesan Risotto
The pressure cooker creates creamy risotto in a hands-free way. Don't worry if the rice is a tad runny after cooking--it thickens as it stands before serving.
Chipotle Black Bean Dip with Corn Chips
A common craving among CookingLight.com users is chips; our homemade tortilla chips keep fat and sodium in check. This snack quells an oft-cited yen for Mexican fare and has protein, complex carbs, and fiber.
Popcorn Ice Cream Sundae
This decadent sundae delivers the best of salty, sweet, creamy, and crunchy all in one bowl.
Quick Chicken Piccata
This is the kind of recipe that's so simple, yet looks impressive enough for company. Serve it with angel hair pasta and dinner is done.
Everyone needs a straightforward chocolate cake recipe. Here, mayonnaise keeps the cake extra moist and mellows out the sweetness a little.
Ultimate M&M Cookies
Feed your inner child (or your actual child) with these chewy-in-the-center, crispy-at-the-edges, candy-studded cookies.
Keto Egg Roll Bowl
Get that crave-worthy egg roll filling without the carb-laden wrapper with this hearty keto entree. Drizzle with a little sriracha for a warming kick.
Wedge Salad On A Stick
Everything you love about a classic wedge salad, but in portable, party-perfect form.
Sweet and tangy pickled mango is a delightful addition to salads, fish tacos, sandwiches, and more. Of course, it also makes for a fantastically refreshing snack enjoyed straight from the jar.
Nutella Iced Coffee
Don’t be surprised if this decadent, chocolatey twist on a typical iced coffee becomes your #1 caffeinated beverage of choice. While you can also prepare this Nutella Iced Coffee by whisking the ingredients together by hand, the blender makes creating a perfectly smooth beverage easy work. P.S. You do not want to skip out on the coffee ice cubes—they make this cool caffeine hit all the more delicious. To make them, simply freeze lightly sweetened coffee (you can use leftovers from your morning pot) in ice cube trays overnight.
Nashville Hot Chicken Bake
If you’re craving hot chicken but don’t feel like doing the work, try this quick and fun dish. It’s spicy with hints of sweetness, with juicy and flavorful chicken and crunchy bread topping.
The tuna melt… you either love it or hate it. However, if you happen to be one of the few on the fence, you should definitely give this one a try. Our take on a classic tuna melt offers an element of childhood nostalgia, but with a layer of grown-up flavor. The incorporation of capers, Dijon, and fresh lemon juice give the tuna salad brightness and complexity to balance the buttery, toasted bread and rich, melty Swiss cheese. This classic sandwich is also delightful when served open-faced, so feel free to lose the second slice of bread if you’d prefer.