Once you unpack the car at freshman orientation, and the first week of classes begin, you’ll be on your own to navigate the world, your dreams, the course of your future — and even your kitchen.
Some of us have never lifted a cooking utensil before in our lives. Others of us might be used to making a weekly meal for the family. No matter your level of cooking expertise, we’ve come up with a few recipes to help you get through the college years.
Whether you’re dependent on the school cafeteria for meals, totally on your own for food, confined to your dorm room microwave, reliant on ramen, or heading over to your parent’s for dinner, these recipes are quick, easy, mostly healthy, and cheap. Get ready to impress your friends — and maybe even your parents and professors — with these recipes that will work for a variety of different nutritional needs and diets.
Delicious dorm ideas
Stuck in the dorm room? These recipes only require a fridge, toaster, and microwave.
Mac-n-Cheese in a Bowl (vegetarian)
Broccoli and Cheese-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (vegetarian, paleo)
Just substitute vegan cheese here for a vegan meal; you can also replace fresh broccoli with frozen if it’s more convenient.
Margherita Pizza Quesadilla (vegetarian)
Instead of using a skillet, place the ingredients in a microwave for 45 seconds or until cheese is bubbling. Then add tomato and basil after.
3-Ingredient No-Bake Almond Butter Energy Balls (paleo, GF, Vegan, Vegetarian, dairy-free)
3-Ingredient Chia Pudding (vegan, vegetarian)
Bowls and stir fries
Bowls are a quick, easy way to satisfy your cravings on the cheap. You can throw your leftovers in a saute pan, add some rice and beans, and you’re good to go. Bowls are versatile and as complicated or simple as you want them to be. Extras can include cheese, sour cream, salsa, soy sauce, fresh herbs, or a slice of citrus.
Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl (vegan, vegetarian)
Don’t underestimate the power of the sandwich. You can squeeze just about anything between two slices of bread and make perfection. Take your sandwich to the next level by making it a melt, upgrading ingredients, or getting your bread from a local bakery.
Grown-Up Tuna Melt (pescatarian)
Grilled Peanut Butter and Pomegranate Sandwich (vegetarian)
Falafel Wraps (vegetarian)
5-Minute Caprese Sandwich (vegetarian)
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when thinking about what to eat. These tried-and-true classics have been upgraded to withstand your new foray into the adult culinary world.
Bean and Corn Quesadilla (vegetarian)
Bacon-Wrapped Chicken (paleo, Whole30, keto)
Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas (keto, paleo, vegetarian, Whole30)
Cauliflower Mac-n-Cheese (keto, gluten-free, vegetarian)
Sheet Pan Sausage, Pepper, and Onions (Whole30, paleo, keto)
Breakfast for dinner
Breakfast is pretty much the easiest, cheapest, most versatile meal of the day. You’re in college — you can do what you want! Take a cue from McDonalds and whip yourself up some breakfast at any time of the day for a satisfying, simple meal that will fill you up for those late nights at the library.
Keto Breakfast Sandwich (keto)
Easy Vegan Granola (vegan, vegetarian)
3-Minute Microwave Oatmeal (vegetarian)
Avocado Toast (vegetarian, vegan)
Say goodbye to the “freshman fifteen” with these simple, healthy salad options.
Keto Taco Salad (keto, paleo)
Avocado Tuna Halves (paleo, pescatarian)
Whole30 Kale Salad with Apples and Chicken (Whole30, paleo, keto)
10-Minute Quinoa Salad (vegetarian)
College is a time for adventure and learning, so try incorporating new spices and traditions into your meals. Expand your palate beyond the traditional American fare with some international flavors.
Curried Chickpeas with Spinach (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free)
These recipes will fuel you for life-long learning, both inside the classroom and out. You don’t have to settle for ramen and cold pizza. A little planning and intentionality will serve your taste buds, your health, and your wallet — all while saving your precious mental energy for that chem text next week.