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Cheap Meal Ideas for a College Student

Category Cheap Meals
Many college students need to eat on a budget. This is a guide about cheap meal ideas for a college student.


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By 0 found this helpful
January 10, 2005

I have a request for cheap, low budget, yet tasty meal ideas. I'm going to school at St. Lawrence College in Kingston and I live in an apartment with my boyfriend where we both pay half rent. So money is a bit tight for me right now and I was wondering if anyone knew of any cool recipes?

Amy :)


September 7, 20090 found this helpful

I posted this in another place but 1 box of velveeta shells and cheese + one lb of hamburger = a nice meal for 2

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October 14, 20090 found this helpful

Tostadas: $8, 4 servings. Buy 1 XL can refried beans ($2), lettuce ($2), shredded cheese ($1.50), el pato salsa ($.50), (Spanish food section) and tostada shells($2). Get the shells in a bag not a box, they taste better and cost less.
-You can also make Spanish rice for around $3 and double the servings. My BF and I once ate tostadas and rice for 3 dinners straight, for only $11 total. When not on a budget I add green onion, sour cream, tomato, or even shredded chicken.


Mac & Cheese w/ Broccoli: $5, 2-3 servings. Get a box of velveeta shells & cheese ($3.50), at chopped broccoli ($1.50) last 2 minutes while pasta is cooking, drain and add cheese sauce.

Chicken Pot Pie: $11, 5-6 servings. Lasts 2-3 days as left-overs. Small bag mixed frozen veggies ($2), Rotisserie chicken ($5), 2 cans cream of potato soup ($1 ea), pie crust (3), 1 egg white. Shred white meat of chicken, mix with veggies, soup, and pour into bottom pie crust. Add top, score, top with egg white. Bake at 400 for 25-40 minutes,depending on oven, until golden. You can also thaw the veggies in a pan with a little butter, to make them taste less frozen.

My favorite hot dogs: $7, 8 hot dogs. Fry 1 bell pepper ($1.50) and 1 onion ($1.50) in a little bit of butter. Cook the hot dogs in another pan. Place hot dog ($2) in bun ($2), top with mixture, and mustard. Everybody says that sounds gross, but when they eat it they like it! Serve with cheap store brand chips.

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May 24, 20100 found this helpful

I am also a college student and I sympathize with your situation. Here are some recipes that are inexpensive, fast (rushing between classes etc), and relatively healthy.


Stir fry
Small piece of boneless skinless chicken
(I use frozen chicken breast strips which I buy when they are on sale $7 for 3.5 pounds)
Frozen Broccoli, Green Beans or Asian Mix veggies ($1.50-$1 on sale)
Garlic (2 cloves)
Half an onion
Rice or Noodles (I prefer brown nice but it takes a while to cook)
Soy sauce

Brown the chicken in a little oil add onions and garlic until translucent. Then add frozen veggies until they are cooked all the way through. Serve over rice then add soy sauce. Or if you have time add the soy sauce to the chicken and let it marinate in that or teriaki sauce if you have it on hand.
This whole meal will cost you and your boyfriend about $3.50 depending on what's on sale and how much chicken you want. Depending on how much you eat you should have left overs for lunch!


Variations: Add noodles (linguine or fettuccine, or add ramen noodles that you cooked without the seasoning packet)

Fried Rice
One piece of boneless skinless chicken breasts
Cooked Rice (brown or white)
Frozen peas and carrots
Frozen Broccoli (if desired)
2 eggs

Cook cut up chicken with onions and garlic in about 3 tablespoons of oil, add frozen veggies, once they are cooked add the rice. Then scramble the eggs with a little pepper and add over the mixture and begin stirring the mixture until eggs are cooked through (about 2 minutes) serve with soy sauce and/or asian hot sauce/chili paste.
About $3 for two people. It's very filling.
You could also add left over beef or pork cubed. If you don't have meat you can just add more eggs.

Bean and Rice Burritos
There is a reason they are on the dollar menu at your favorite mexican place. They are very cheap to make. Here is how...


You need
One Can of Black Beans or re-fried beans
One cup of cooked rice (or 1/2 cup uncooked and prepared)
4 flour tortillas
(these can be expensive depending on where you live, you can also use 6-8 corn tortillas and make them into tacos)
Green Salsa
(or whichever salsa you prefer a small can in the hispanic food section of the grocery store is about 60 cents)
Cheese if desired
Veggies if desired (peppers and onions are my favorite!)

Combine cooked rice with beans in a pot and heat slowly add cheese if desired of veggies (honestly even broccoli works here). Scoop into tortillas which you have heated over the stove (if you have gas) or in the microwave add salsa and/or hot sauce.
This will keep you full for hours and is very portable if you are running late for class. If you want double this recipe and keeps some burritos in the fridge that you can take with you to class or have for a quick dinner.


Also about $3-$4 for two people with lunch left over.

Add left over chicken or whatever you have to get in more protein but the rice and bean combo should give you enough protein. You can make it fancy if you entertaining by placing the burritos in a baking dish and covering them with red salsa or enchilada sauce and cheese.

Staples to have on hand
The grocery store can seem scary especially when you are cooking on your own for the first time. You should try to stock up on these things when they are on sale. Even when they are not on sale they are inexpensive. They are something that you should always have in your house since they are so versatile and allow you to make food in only minutes.

Frozen Chicken (in small portions)
Even though you are two people chances are you are not going to go through a multi pack of chicken in a week (and for the sake of your budget you shouldn't!) When you get home from the grocery store freeze the chicken in individual zip lock bags write the date and type of meat with a Sharpe) Oftentimes the butcher case has better deal on meat then the pre packaged meat so make sure you check it out.

Frozen Veggies
We have all seen veggies languish in the bottom of the fridge. Frozen veggies are always ripe and never rotten they can be stored in the freezer for a about a year. Don't buy the veggies with sauce on them they are more expensive and unhealthy. Get broccoli florets, frozen peas and carrots and green beans. Trader joes has a good frozen peppers and onions mix. Try to buy them on sale but even if there not on sale the store brand is normally $1.50 a bag.

Brown Rice
I like brown rice but it is a pain to cook. So make about 6 servings at once and then keep the left overs in your fridge. Brown rice and beans is a complex protein. It's only slightly more expensive then white rice and keeps you fuller longer. You can buy it in bulk at health food stores etc.

A can of beans is around 90 cents and can act (coupled with rice) as a meat substitute. Make sure you rinse the beans well because often they are covered in salty bean water. You can make these yourself by soaking them over night and then boiling them but for me it's not worth the effort to save a couple cents. This way you always have them in your pantry ready to go. You can use black beans, kidney beans, etc for chili as well.

A college stable I prefer whole grain pasta because it keeps me fuller longer. I buy it when it goes on sale. You can get it for $1 a pound. But if you love white pasta you can use it just be aware that you shouldn't have it for every meal! It's fast to make and can be used for asian as well as italian meals.

Soy Sauce
A great addition to any Asian meal! I get the low sodium kind don't get a name brand if you have a trader joes near you their soy sauce is only $2.50 for a large bottle.

Chili Sauce
That bright red sauce in the asian food section of your market. It spices up any dish and can be added with soy sauce if you don't want it that hot.

You can buy it cheap in the HISPANIC section of a normal grocery store or even better at a mexican market (they also have cheap produce) get the cans to start off with to see what you like then invest in a jar.

Hot Sauce
When in doubt add hot sauce! That is my mantra. You can get tapatillo for 60 cents a bottle. You can add it on eggs, mexican food, mac and cheese, the possibilities are endless!

Salt, Pepper, etc.
I highly recommend that before you go to the spice section of your grocery store you check out the hispanic food section. They have packages of pepper for very cheap. As well as entire and crushed oregano for 60 cents. Cheaper then the Italian spice blend. But even if you have to pay full price for store brand it's a good investment to get some chili powder (for chili), salt, pepper, and if you want taco seasoning envelopes to make ordinary dishes more exciting.

Learn to love them they are cheap (aprox 67 cents a pound) and portable. Have one for a quick breakfast or a snack in class. You'll still need variety so get whatever other fruit is on sale make sure you weigh it first and calculate the cost so that you don't get surprised at the check out.

I hope that helped!
I have to run to class but if you want feel free to contact me or comment on this and I will write more ideas.
Happy Cooking!

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August 22, 20100 found this helpful

This is the ultimate cheap college cuisine:
Teriyaki Beef Ramen:
1½ lbs. top sirloin-$5-$6
4 packages of Maruchan Top Ramen noodles-70¢
Teriyaki glaze-$2 (unless you already have it. You should have it. Best investment you'll ever make)
¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro- 50¢
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cracked peppercorn
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon corn starch

Lots of cheap meal ideas at

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February 24, 20110 found this helpful

I have to say that pasta is probably one of the cheapest ways to go (mac and cheese with broccoli, tuna noodle casserole, basic spaghetti, chop white onion, celery and carrots and simmer, then add tomato paste and spices, etc.).

But if you're like me, you'll like a little variety, too!

Indian food is a really nice change of pace, and you can adjust the spice levels to your preference. I recommend:

Dhal/Dahl/Dal: basically yellow split peas and twice as much water, simmered 'till cooked. Fry up some onions in cumin, cayenne pepper and a little oil or margarine and mix it in! Serve on rice (also cheap). Full recipe here:

Rajma chawal: This is Indian 'chili', basically! It's yummy and very cheap. It's kidney beans (canned), fried onion, fresh tomato, ginger, and spices simmered in water, served over rice. Very filling and good for you, too! Recipe here:

There are many cheap, healthy and satisfying Indian recipes! Great to break the monotony of Kraft Dinner and other 'white person foods'. ;) The only drawback is having to buy the spices up front, though they do go a long way. Still cheaper than buying meat!

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April 6, 20120 found this helpful

I live in China and am an international medical student. Can anybody suggest any quick energy giving meal recipes that are fairly cheap that I could cook? Thank you. I'm open to all suggestions.

By Angel


April 6, 20120 found this helpful

Chinese food is quick, inexpensive and easy to make, and you're in the perfect place to learn how to cook it. If I were in your position, I would buy a wok and a good knife, and ask some of my Chinese friends for lessons on how to cook some quick and inexpensive meals. In return, you can you can invite them over for a meal.

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April 8, 20120 found this helpful

Here are a couple of my favorites:
1) Open a can of tuna, drain it, add a few dollops of Greek yogurt, a teaspoon of mayonnaise, and a Tablespoon of relish; mix together and spread on bread or eat with crackers.

2) Heat on medium an electric or gas stove; spritz or spread oil on the bottom of a small frying pan; break an egg into the pan (break the yolk) and spread on bottom of pan. Check as it cooks so it doesn't burn; flip over and add a layer of shredded cheese, deli-sliced ham, and whatever cooked veggies you'd like; flip one side of the omelet on the other, then flip whole thing over to cook through.

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June 25, 20090 found this helpful

I have a request for cheap, low budget, yet tasty meal ideas. I'm going to school at St. Lawrence College in Kingston and I live in an apartment with my boyfriend where we both pay half rent. So

money is a bit tight for me right now and I was wondering if anyone knew of any cool recipes?



Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

EZ chili on spaghetti:

Serve over cooked spaghetti or stir cooked macaroni into chili. It's cheap, it's filling and it makes leftovers. (01/11/2005)

By beanygurl

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Hey I know the feeling, my family likes stir fry. You can get frozen vegetables at Wal-mart for like $1.50 and just cook it and add soy sauce. Serve alone, or over rice. I also go shopping early in the

morning so I can get the reduced meat, as long as you put it in the freezer and use it fairly quickly it is OK. Also do you get a local paper on Sunday's I have found that it is worth the 1.50 for the

coupons what I don't use I send to my sister who is in college herself. Good luck. (01/18/2005)

By Shannon Fox

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Hey I thought of something else my family likes that is cheap. Get tuna in water (.47) drain. Boil an egg, then chop the egg, chop some onion, add mayo and sweet relish, salt, pepper, garlic powder is optional, my

husband even likes olives and hot sauce in his. Serve on toast, or with crackers or even just beside a salad. Hope you can use some of these. (01/18/2005)

By Shannon Fox

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

1lb cooked ground beef. 1 box of Mac and Cheese prepare as directed. Add 1 can of diced tomatoes. Combine all ingredients. It's quick and easy. If you like you can also add diced red and/or green peppers.
My kids love it. (01/19/2005)

By Dawn

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

This is quick and healthy. Take about 3 potatoes (peel them, slice them, and start frying them), then add about three eggs and start mixing it all up. Then cut in something that's meat product and add.
This takes about 15 minutes max and fills your stomach. (02/03/2005)

By mamir

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Ramen noodles are a college student staple. I like to take:

In medium pan heat water and flavor packet to boiling. Break noodles up and add to water with frozen peas.
Stir frequently. When noodles start to soften drain mushrooms and add. Add chicken and stir. Serve

Wal-mart has these noodles fo 10 cents a packet. You can experiment adding things to them.

I also like to add hamburger and cream of mushroom to the beef noodles. Serve with green beans.

Shopping at an Aldi or Save-a-lot store will save you much. Wal Mart has some good buys, but you have to be careful, also.

By Debbie

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Here is one of the cheapest meal staples I have used for years. Even my meat loving husband gets full on this meal.

Easy Drop Biscuits and Gravy

Mix dry ingredients, then measure water or milk in the same container at the same time, then dump into the center of the dry ingredients. Stir just until blended, if they are a bit powdery this is just

right. Drop large scoops of dough with a soup spoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. You can pat the biscuits to shape them, but my family likes the crispy edges that

come from leaving them untouched-up. The insides are fluffy and light. These are absolutely best straight from the oven, but they keep alright on the pan with a dish towel over them or in a zip lock bag left

open to retain some crispness (after they are totally cool). I have also made cheap gravy using 2 cups water, 2 tsp bullion (or whatever is suggested on the package) and 1/2 cup flour. Stir together and heat

in a sauce pan until thick and bubbly, season with pepper to taste. (02/28/2005)

By TabbyCat

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

I used to make this for my husband and I before we got married when money was real tight and we still use it in a pinch.

Brown a pound or so of ground beef. Season it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and Worcestershire sauce or your favorite seasonings.

Make instant mashed potatoes in the microwave as directed, but add a little garlic and cheese. If you don't have shredded cheese (it can be expensive on a real tight budget) use American cheese slices.

After the mashed potatoes are done, mix the ground beef with the potatoes and add a can of green beans or corn which ever is your favorite.

This meal is very filling and there is usually some left over for the next day. You can use real mashed potatoes if you like, but adding the garlic and cheese to instant helps mask the instant flavor.


By Michelle

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Here is a good one, especially if you are having company. It is a form of spaghetti Carbonara. Use about 1/4 to 1/2 pound of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch slices. Cook until browned. If needed, drain most of the

grease left behind. Dice a medium onion, fry until translucent in the bacon grease. Meanwhile, have enough spaghetti cooking to serve as many as you want to serve. In a separate bowl, whisk together 4 eggs

and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. After the spaghetti is cooked, drain it and return to the pan, add the cooked bacon and onions, the eggs and cheese and put back on very low heat. Stir together until the eggs

are set. Serve.

You can also add a can of peas to make it closer to authentic carbonera. Very cheap dish. You could also make a bacon gravy for over boiled potatoes, just fry the bacon, crumble, then cook a medium diced

onion. After onions are cooked, in skillet put in 2 Tablespoons of flour. Brown flour and then add milk or water to make a gravy, put back in the bacon and onion and serve. Just a few quick thoughts. You

could buy a piece of peameal back bacon, bake it, serve it as a ham for one meal and then for a second meal, dice it and "grill" it in a non stick skillet, bake a large potato in a microwave, split it, add

a low fat cottage cheese, some diced green onions and a bit to fresh tomato, the bacon and make a big old "stuffed" baked potato. This is a one dish meal. and cheap too.

If you can catch chicken on sale, fry some of one meal and boil the rest. From the boiled chicken you can make chicken and dumplings, chicken and noodles, and chicken salad either for a meal or for

sandwiches. An easy and cheap Stroganoff is 2 cube steaks cut into 1/2 in strips, fried, add a medium onion, then add 1 can of mushroom soup, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, 2 Tablespoons catchup, a

can of mushrooms, water and all. Then 1 cup of sour cream. Cook gently, do not let the sour cream boil. Serve over noodles or minute rice.
Just have fun, these are the days for it. (03/27/2005)

By Jackie Martin

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Tuna Melt

Get a can of tuna in water. Drain. Mix with mayo or Miracle Whip, whichever you prefer. Add anything else you like, I just like the tuna and mayo with a dash of Miracle Whip. Put on bread (I prefer a

bagel). Slice some cheddar cheese and place on top. Put it in your broiler on a cookie sheet until the cheese is a little burnt. Serve with a big glass of milk. (04/28/2005)

By Bruno

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Take a can of Cresent rolls and unroll the whole can on a cookie sheet. With your fingers make the dough one solid piece. Brown and drain 1 lb. ground beef, add enough Bar-b-que sauce to coat and spoon

down the center of the dough. Add cheese on top then fold the dough over, kind of like a burrito. Bake according to roll directions. A great, easy meal for only a few dollars. (05/01/2005)

By Tami

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

My Mom fixed this when we were kids and I fix it for my family when money is tight, it is pretty tasty, I think it came from Girl Scout camp.

Dice onion, brown with hamburger, drain, add Pork n Beans, you can remove the fat piece if you like. That's it. It is pretty good (05/17/2005)

By Tasha

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

I am in college, and this is one of my favorite meals. Its cheap, its quick, and tastes good.

Heat up the beans and peanut butter in a pan, until peanut butter dissolves. Mix with the cooked couscous. Done.

It makes about 3-4 servings for my boyfriend and I.


By collegegirl

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

I was one of four kids, with a single mom supporting us alone. We had a few "special"
meals that held us over in the day or two before the next paycheck arrived. Both meals are quick, good and cheap. However, I personally like them both with loads of black pepper.

Tuna and Noodles:

Prepare mac and cheese according to package. Stir in the drained tuna and vegetable. Serve.

Noodles, Bacon and Tomatoes:

Brown the bacon and drain. Crumble it into bite-sized pieces.
Prepare the noodles according to package. Drain.
Stir in the tomatoes, bacon and a tablespoon of the bacon drippings. Serve.

By Aunt Wendy

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Easy Pepper Steak

In a large skillet, add steak, onions, peppers, mushrooms, soy sauce, and butter. Cook until steak is done to your liking, add a little more soy sauce as needed. When steak is brown, add corn starch to

thicken mixture. Let simmer for about 7 minutes. Serve over rice. Cost is less than $10. (07/20/2005)

By Christy

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

In college, and even now, this has been one of my absolute favorites:

Make sure to drain all canned food (aside from the milk, of course). Simply throw it all in together and cook until slightly boiling.

It makes enough for two people and the taste is such a nice change of pace. My brother calls it "Bachelor Stew" because it is so easy and quick to make and still comes out quite impressive.

Note: If you like a little color to your soup (the above mixture will be yellow) you can add things like chopped broccoli, bell peppers, etc. Whatever suits you. The important part is the coconut milk and


Enjoy. (09/24/2005)

By Theresa

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Just had to add something my dad would always throw together. Its cheap, easy, and makes a lot and to this day I still love it.

Brown gravy, ground beef and egg noodles. Make them all separately and then on your plate make a bed of noodles, meat on top of that then a little brown gravy over all of it. I usually like to have corn

on the side but, I add corn to just about anything. (10/17/2005)

By Vladd

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

English muffin pizzas:
(for two)

Cut the muffins in half lengthwise. Bake at 300 degrees for about 5 minutes, or until slightly crispy. They shouldn't be browning. Top each with a spoonful of tomato sauce and bit of cheese, plus meat, if

desired. Bake at 300 another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

If you buy all this at Walmart, it will cost $1.75. (Half a 12 pack of English muffins, half an 8 oz block of mozzarella cheese)

Also, I freeze all the bits of leftover meat and or veggies from other meals. I freeze it in Ziplock bags and mark the contents and date with a sharpie on the Ziplock bag. You can thaw and use these

leftovers for a recipe like this, or stir fry, pot pie, whatever. Comes in handy when you don't want to cook. (10/30/2005)

By Lacey

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Look for "Michellines" (or something like that) brand frozen foods. These are usually really cheap and microwaveable too. And don't forget canned soups are usually inexpensive.

Recipe for Belly Buttons:

Try slicing hot dogs (around $2 a pack) into about a 1/4 inch slices and place flat side in baking dish. Pour (.99cents) Barbecue sauce over and bake at 350 degrees, until hot dogs are done.
If invited to a party then make these and serve them with toothpicks. Tell everyone they are "belly buttons" and they will be a hit. (11/05/2005)

By Melissa

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

I am also a college student, tight on money. One of my favorite easy, cheap meals is angel hair pasta (less than $2 at Safeway) and veggies. I just toss one green bell pepper and some garlic and oil in a

frying pan on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I cook up the pasta, which only takes about 3mins. After the pasta has been strained, toss it in the pan and add some salt, pepper, and any other

spices you like and you've got a delicious, healthy, cheap meal. Total prep time should be about 15 minutes. Enjoy. (12/12/2005)


Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

I got this recipe from a friend of mine and my family of 6 loves it and there are always leftovers for the next day.

Easy Scalloped Potatoes

Mix all together in a baking dish and cook at 350 for an hour or until golden brown and bubbling. (01/13/2006)

By Michelle

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Try this:

Cook the rice, and fry the onion and the egg together. Add the onion and egg to the rice, stir it through, and add soy sauce to taste.

Simple, effective, filling, cheap. (01/19/2006)

By Chris

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

I have a great dish that is cheap and good. Take a head of cabbage and chop it fine. Add 1 package of broken, uncooked Ramen noodles and mix well. Then make the dressing: Add the pack of seasonings from the

Ramen noodles to 1/4 cup of oil and 6 tablespoons of vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt and mix well. Pour over the cabbage-Ramen mixture and toss well. Add 1 cup of chopped cooked chicken, ham, or tuna. (You can

use canned cooked chicken) You can add chopped green onions or any fresh herbs you like, but in about 2 hours you have a delicious salad that keeps for several days. (02/15/2006)

By Michele

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

My roommate and I created a great dish when we we're flat broke called Johnny Mash.

Cook the potatoes and mix the corn in. Add a glop (I say glop because I never measure it) of Ranch and add good amount of shredded cheese. Mix and enjoy.

It's incredibly cheap, cooks in 3-4 minutes, delicious and filling for hours. (04/05/2006)

By DaveyCaz

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Being a mother of 3 boys with one income, we live on a tight tight budget. Here are a couple great ideas that are yummy.

If you have a stove/oven, you can make this. You will need a muffin pan (the larger sized, not mini).

Spray muffin tray with nonstick spray, lightly. Open the cans of biscuits and separate, divide each biscuit into 2 layers. Put one layer in each cup of the muffin pan, pressing lighty into bottom and

sides. Spoon the soup into each biscuit lined tin, to almost full. Top each with the other half of biscuit. If you have seasoning (garlic, Italian seasoning, etc.) you can sprinkle something on top for

flavor, or even some shredded cheese. Cook at 375 degrees for 15 - 18 mins. Use a knife after letting cool for a few minutes to loosen from sides. (05/30/2006)

By Tracy

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Enchilada mock:

Start with the beans on bottom and then put chips then cheese, once the cheese starts to melt mix it up until it's all hot, delicious. (01/27/2007)

By Claire

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

I love corn tortillas and you can usually get 50 for about a 1.50 at Walmart. (Note that corn tortillas taste better if you fry them in oil or nonstick cooking spray for a few minutes. Or if baking make sure

they get really hot.)

Eggs and tortilla omlette: rip up a couple of corn tortillas and start to fry them in an omlette pan (or fry pan). Scramble some eggs together with tomato paste and season salt. Once the tortillas are

soft, pour the batter over the tortillas. You can flip the patty like an omlette, or if you are impatient, you can just scramble it all together. I like to complete the dish with just a little bit of salsa

and cheese.

Southwest casserole: Take your favorite Mexican ingredients (refried beans, ground beef/chicken-cooked, cheese, corn, onions and salsa). Layer the ingredients (about three layers), starting with ripped up

tortillas. Bake in 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Top with sour cream. (02/26/2007)

By Shawnee

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

One of the quickest things I've ever eaten. I used to have this all the time when I would go straight from school to work and be gone from 8 am to 11 pm and was exhausted.

Boil a potato with the skin on. Chop up said potato into a frying pan with a little bit of oil, add diced onions and green peppers and an egg or two. Cook and scramble like you would make scrambled eggs

until the potato is golden brown on the edges. Eat and enjoy. Very filling. (03/06/2007)


Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Get a $10 Crock Pot from Walmart. Then throw in anything you want such as vegetables, potatoes, meat and cook for a few hours. It's idiot proof. Just don't add too much salt, and you got a good meal which

can be frozen and recooked.

Also, this will allow you to use really cheap ingredients like dried beans, etc. (04/30/2007)

By Brandon

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student


Sauce variation

Sliced tomato version:
Follow directions above but bake the chicken separate from pasta/rice. Put chicken in pan, slice of tomato on top, add cheese when almost done.

Be careful, tomatoes are very hot when they come out of the oven. (05/30/2007)

By Suz

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student


You can also add a can of tomato/veggie/cream soup to mix to make it juicier. (05/30/2007)

By Suz

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Easy Chicken Fried Rice (You'll need a Wok or a big frying pan for this one)



  1. Rip the chicken up in to little pieces (I do it with my hands, but if that's too icky for ya you can just start cooking it and then rip it apart with a wooden spoon in the Wok/pan).
  2. Oil the wok/pan and fry the chicken in the Wok/pan until there's no pink left in it.
  3. Concurrently, boil the rice.
  4. Shortly before the chicken is done, add the other ingredients (If your using eggs, add them first to make sure they cook and then add the mushrooms, veggies, etc.).
  5. Cook the stir fry until you think it's done, if using frozen veggies, cook until they're thawed and warm.
  6. Drain the rice and add to the Wok, turn off the heat but leave the Wok on the burner. "Do not" drain the contents of the wok before adding the rice lest you lose the flavor of the previous ingredients

    that has escaped in to the oil.

  7. Mix the rice in with the other ingredients.
  8. Add Soy Sauce and stir, continue until all the white is gone from the rice.
  9. Enjoy.

I usually make a lot of this and then eat some while refrigerating the rest for meals later in the week. It'll last a decent amount of time as long as the seal in the container is air tight. I've never

actually timed it but I've eaten it up to two weeks later and it was fine. You can also substitute other meats for the chicken: pork, ground beef, beef strips, etc. (06/21/2007)

By Murray

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

My boyfriend's favorite meal reminds us both of being a kid again. Take a box of Mac and Cheese make as usual. Then open a roll/can of crescent rolls or biscuit dough and roll a package of hot dogs for "Pigs in

a Blanket". Bake as long as the crescent rolls or biscuit directions say. Really, really good and great comfort food. (12/17/2007)

By Recelynne

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

The thing to remember about Ramen is it's packed full of sodium and very few vitamins. Cheap yes, healthy no. For cheap and healthy, I suggest homemade dhal masala. If you invest in the spices (turmeric,

ginger and garam masala) the lentils are $0.89 a pound. Can't beat that.

Soak a cup or so of lentils for half an hour, chop an onion and fry in the bottom of a pot with a little oil. Drain lentils, add to the pot with a couple cups of fresh water. Boil, boil, boil; add a diced

tomato if you like, or some frozen peas, and keep adding water as needed to keep it soupy. When the lentils are completely cooked and it's all kind of a mush, add spices, salt and pepper liberally.


By Judith

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Healthy and good for vegetarians!

Broccoli, Cheddar and Spinach Soup
(ambiguous amounts, but that's how I cook. Bear with me.)

Put butter/bacon fat in a large pot till melted. Add finely diced onions over medium heat. When onions are golden add diced potatoes, broth and chopped up broccoli. Don't worry if broth doesn't cover

everything. Put a lid on the pot and let boil on medium high heat for a half hour. Now add the frozen spinach and put the lid back on for another ten minutes.
Now get a blender or better yet, an immersion blender and blend the hell out of the whole batch. Careful, its hot.
When it reaches your desired texture, add shredded cheddar and slowly add the cream. Stir until everything melts together. You have soup. Eat with toast. This will feed one person for about a week. I know

because I lived off this my first two weeks in NC. Enjoy. (03/21/2008)

By L

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

The best thing ever if your trying to save is to make Thai chicken pizza. Mix the peanut butter, soy sauce (that you can grab for free at the grocery store) and 1/2 cup of coconut milk until liquefied. Chop the green onions, water chess nuts, and shave the carrots. Pour the sauce

on top of the ready made pizzas and add mozzarella cheese on top. Then finish with the chopped veggies and pre-browned chicken. Place in oven at 450 for 15 minutes. (04/12/2008)

By Taylor and Kara

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

This is something that my boyfriend and I make all the time because its easy and cheap.

Pizza Casserole

Sometimes we throw in a little tub of Sour Cream, though I'm not sure why. Try it if you're interested.

Preheat oven to 350 and begin cooking pasta. Once it is complete, mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, but save at least 3/4's of a bag of cheese. Pour the mixture in a casserole dish and pop it in

the oven for about 20 minutes, then put the rest of that cheese on top and cook it for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. And there ya have it, a yummy, cheapo casserole. (04/22/2008)

By C

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Tater Tot Casserole

Brown Hamburger, drain. Mix hamburger with soup, cheese, green pepper and onion in baking dish. Top with tater tots. Follow baking directions for the tater tots. Delicious.

By Tabitha

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Red Beans and Rice is a nice idea for cheap. We ate this a lot when I was growing up. My basic recipe uses 2 Cans of Red Beans or 1 Can of Red beans 1 can of chili beans. 1 Roll of Sausage and at least 2

cups of rice.

Brown the sausage and then add in the beans drained or not drained. Let them simmer if you didn't drain them or simply leave the pan on warm if you did drain.

Boil the rice and serve the beans and sausage over the rice. I also use small amounts of Tabasco, garlic, steak sauce, and barbecue sauce to create a tasty sauce that is totally optional. Feeds 4-6 people

for one meal or just my self and girlfriend for at least 2 meals. When I was living alone I would eat this stuff for 2 or 3 days for under 5$. (10/01/2008)

By Robert

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

A lot of these recipes have meat which is really expensive and not to mention hard to digest. It's so easy and cheap to make vegetarian tasty meals. Get some TVP (Texturized vegetable protein) at a health

food store. These are dried granules that mimic ground beef. You use 1 cup granules to 1 cup hot water and you'll get double the amount. Add a bit of soy sauce or soak in hot bouillon instead of water to give

it flavour. Then add to chili, tacos, spaghetti sauce, this is a great source of protein and much cheaper than meat. Some meat eaters use this and a combination of ground beef to make meatloaf. Here is a

great TVP meatless loaf that serves a lot. My friends kids who are meat eaters loved it


Mix tvp with water, ketchup and basil in a large bowl.
Saute the onion in olive oil. Add onions to the tvp and stir
in the rest of the ingredients. Spread into a lightly greased loaf pan and bake at 350F for 45 minutes. If it starts getting too brown early, cover with foil. Take out of the oven and let sit for 15 minutes

before removing from the pan. Serve with mashed potatoes and your favorite gravy. This entire meatloaf can feed about 6 people and costs about $2-3 to make. (10/27/2008)

By Lisa

Cheap Meal Ideas For a College Student

Here's one I didn't see and my mom made a lot. Around here, a pound of bologna is about $1, 5 lbs of potatoes are $2 and a can of corn about $0.50. So it's less then $3 for 6 or so people to eat.

I've always called it: Fried Bologna Meal

Cook potatoes so that you have mashed potatoes and warm up the corn. Then fry the bologna in a pan, don't worry they will curl up like a bowl and that's what you want. Fry up two or three per person.

Then on a plate put the fried bologna, in the middle of the bologna put some mashed potatoes and put on some of the corn on top of that, enjoy.

Now that us kids are out of the house, my mom told me the other day that instead of frying the bologna in a pan, she puts it in a muffin pan just like she would on a plate and then adds cheese to it. I

haven't tried it yet but it sounds real good to me. (04/18/2009)

By theresa

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