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20 Recipes Perfect for Every Kind of College Student

Don’t let your collegiate kid go to campus without these budget-friendly recipes—perfect for dorm or apartment living and to impress new friends.

Going to college is an exciting time full of firsts: leaving the nest, learning new things, meeting new people, and, like it or not, saying goodbye to Mom and Dad’s home cooking. And if your college student, whether a rising freshman or almost grad, doesn’t want to rely on the university dining hall for every meal—don’t fear. We’ve got 20 simple, delicious recipes for college students to ensure they’ll never go hungry.

Whether they’re cooking in their first apartment with an oven or working from a community dorm kitchen equipped with a microwave and hot plate, these recipes are classics with a twist that are perfect for developing some key cooking skills, all while offering way more variety and flavor compared to the university’s cafe. Send these recipes to a loved one who is packing up for school or bookmark a few to make together this summer before move-in day arrives.

Oatmeal Raisin Mug Cookie

A microwave and a coffee mug are all your college student needs the next time they’re craving Mom’s cookies fresh from the oven. With a texture like warm bread pudding, this cup of love features rolled oats, bananas, walnuts, chocolate chips, and raisins. Plus, it also works as a hot breakfast that’s ready in just six minutes.

Get the recipe: Oatmeal Raisin Mug Cookie

Blueberry Chia Overnight Oats

Don’t sleep on this hearty oatmeal that sets up overnight so they can hit snooze in the morning and still enjoy a nutritious breakfast. Oats and fiber-rich chia seeds get a dose of sweetness from honey, vanilla, and frozen blueberries. Pair it with a cup of spiced overnight cold brew that will also be ready to start the day whenever they are.

Get the recipe: Blueberry Chia Overnight Oats

Spicy Tomato Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese is a safe bet for any first-time cook, and this decidedly grown-up version kicks things up a notch. Store-bought guacamole, sliced tomato, and pepper Jack cheese bring Tex-Mex vibes while pickled jalapeños add a touch of heat. For a complete meal that will keep them cozy on chilly nights, pair it with a steaming bowl of packaged or homemade tomato soup.

Get the recipe: Spicy Tomato Grilled Cheese

Individual Pita Pizzas

No slice of college life is complete without pizza, but ordering in can add up quickly. Save some cash and make a personal-sized pie in less time than it takes for delivery. Whole wheat pita serves as the crust for a sky’s-the-limit combo of tomato sauce, cheese, and any other toppings.

Get the recipe: Individual Pita Pizzas

Cold Noodles with Edamame, Snow Peas, and Carrots

College is a great opportunity to try new things, like enjoying more plant-based ingredients. This Asian-inspired noodle bowl is vegan-friendly and ready in 15 minutes. Frozen edamame and snow peas add bulk to fresh linguine and cook in the same pot, so both prep and cleanup are a breeze. Tip: If a food processor isn’t available, a small blender or even a rough chop with a knife can do the trick.

Get the recipe: Cold Noodles with Edamame, Snow Peas, and Carrots

BBQ Chicken Ramen with Corn

This five-ingredient recipe proves a packet of ramen noodles can be so much more than a quick-fix meal. The recipe relies on rotisserie chicken, which is always a handy shortcut for quick and easy protein. The addition of barbecue sauce, frozen corn, and scallions transforms dorm room staple noodles into a satisfying lunch or dinner in under 10 minutes.

Get the recipe: BBQ Chicken Ramen with Corn

Pizza Mac and Cheese

Sometimes the only cure for homesick blues is comfort food, and this low-lift recipe delivers two classics in one. A handful of ingredients and 20 minutes in the oven are all they need to upgrade ordinary boxed macaroni and cheese into lusciously cheesy pepperoni pizza mac.

Get the recipe: Pizza Mac and Cheese

Cold Ramen Noodle Salad

If packaged ramen will be their dorm room staple, try this cold noodle salad for a more nutritious meal. Frozen broccoli and edamame add protein and fiber while helping to speed dinner across the finish line in 12 minutes. Make a double batch of the no-cook peanut dressing to drizzle over chicken, pork, veggies, or even a Thai-inspired pizza.

Get the recipe: Cold Ramen Noodle Salad

Pinto Bean Quesadillas

Canned beans are a smart, affordable pantry staple to keep on hand for instant protein and filling fiber anytime. Refried pinto beans bulk up these cheesy quesadillas that can feed your college student and three hungry friends using a sheet pan and the oven. Any store-bought salsa or other fixings like chicken or veggies will work in this recipe, too.

Get the recipe: Pinto Bean Quesadillas

Pizza Bagels

No freezer is required for this fresh take on a beloved after-school snack—pizza bagels. Pile on the toppings, like sausage, peppers, bacon, or any other favorites, and revisit childhood in under 20 minutes. This recipe can easily be scaled up to feed a crowd. For a meal and getting-to-know-you activity in one, recent grads can invite new friends to a DIY pizza party. Put out an array of toppings and let everyone customize their pizza bagel creations.

Get the recipe: Pizza Bagels

Scrambled Eggs with Potato Pancakes and Salsa

Every cook should have at least one killer brunch recipe up their sleeve to keep weekends exciting. These tasty potato and egg stacks couldn’t be simpler to make using frozen hash brown patties and jarred salsa. Round out the meal with fresh fruit salad for a restaurant brunch experience without the hefty price tag or waiting for a table.

Get the recipe: Scrambled Eggs with Potato Pancakes and Salsa

One Pot Spaghetti with Ground Beef and Marinara Sauce

A homemade spaghetti dinner doesn’t need to be complicated if they have half an hour and a single pot. The noodles are cooked directly in jarred tomato sauce along with simmered ground beef for a super simple and filling dinner. It’s just like Nonna used to make—only easier.

Get the recipe: One-Pot Spaghetti with Ground Beef and Marinara Sauce

Red Curry Ramen

This Asian fusion recipe combines Thai street food with the comforting slurp of Japanese ramen. The key ingredient is a jar of Thai red curry paste, which packs major flavor into a simple coconut milk broth. Then, a handful of spinach and ramen noodles quickly cook for a nourishing, five-ingredient dinner. You can store leftover curry paste in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Get the recipe: Red Curry Ramen

Cottage Cheese Scrambled Eggs

The active life of a college student requires plenty of protein to fuel their brain and body. Cottage cheese is a great way to add more protein to a meal while turning ordinary scrambled eggs into a light but filling breakfast. Quick-cooking spinach and a side of whole wheat toast add extra nutrients to this well-balanced, 10-minute meal.

Get the recipe: Cottage Cheese Scrambled Eggs 

Creamy Pasta with Peas

Who needs buttered noodles for dinner again? Not us. Keeping a stash of frozen veggies on hand, if students have access to a freezer, is a smart strategy to pull together nutritious and tasty meals without a run to the store. Frozen peas are the star of this comforting pasta with garlic and lemon that gets its creaminess from low-fat cottage cheese.

Get the recipe: Creamy Pasta with Peas

Easy Taco Pasta

Speaking of amped-up pasta dishes, this Tex-Mex take is the definition of a “back pocket recipe.” With a short list of ingredients and steps, anyone can commit this recipe to memory and whip it up anytime for the perfect dorm noodles. The combo of rotini pasta, seasoned ground beef, melty cheese, and salsa comes together with just 10 minutes of simple prep.

Get the recipe: Easy Taco Pasta

One Pot Chicken with Orzo

This easy and impressive one-pot meal uses rotisserie chicken to shortcut prep time to just five minutes. But the creamy orzo noodles, spinach, and mushrooms feel worthy of a special occasion. This recipe calls for baby Bellas, but any mushrooms on hand, or a combination, would be equally delicious.

Get the recipe: One-Pot Skillet Chicken with Orzo

Whole Wheat English Muffin with Avocado and Fried Egg

Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated; sometimes it’s just about finding the right balance of taste and texture using everyday ingredients. Case in point: this upgraded spin on avocado toast. Creamy avocado plus the richness of a fried egg and the heartiness of a whole wheat English muffin equal a super satisfying breakfast that’s ready in 10 minutes.

Get the recipe: Whole-Wheat English Muffin with Avocado and Fried Egg

Ham and Cheese Pizzadillas

When late-night studying (or partying) leaves them hungry for a midnight snack, this part pizza, part quesadilla, part sandwich will be the hero of the evening. It’s easy to make using flour tortillas, deli ham, and any other pizza toppings cooked in a pan on a stovetop or hot plate. The leftovers are delicious the next day, too.

Get the recipe: Ham and Cheese Pizzadillas

Tuna Melt Nachos

This recipe is nach-o ordinary chips and salsa but it’s sure to satisfy. Budget-friendly canned tuna is always a reliable, fast, filling pantry staple that’s delicious on a bed of baked tortilla chips smothered in melty cheese. Finally, top it off with tomatoes, onion, jalapeños, and salsa, for an easy, shareable meal that feels like a fiesta.

Get the recipe: Tuna Melt Nachos

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