Tired of eating cafeteria food? Believe it or not, some of the tastiest cheap family meals make awesome cheap healthy meals for college students!
29 Cheap Healthy Meals For College Students
Have you had your fill of college cafeteria food? I get it! The food often isn’t anything to write home about and it still costs a lot (especially for a co-ed on a budget). In fact, according to the Money for College Project, a survey showed that the average meal price with a college meal plan was $7 – $11. That certainly adds up fast; I mean, for a single week, if you only eat one meal a day that could be anywhere from $49 to $77! Luckily, there are cheap family meals that can easily be used as cheap healthy meals for college students.
Bonus: Since the recipes I’m about to share with you are aimed at families (some of them are even cheap meals for large families), you should be able to share your delicious food or make more than one meal out of it!
Since a lot of these recipes were originally intend to be cheap recipes for families, they’re meant to be made in a standard kitchen. This may pose a bit of a problem if you live in a dorm room, but with a little creative thinking, I’m sure you’ll be able to transform them into cheap healthy meals for college students. For example, you could whip up a few of these cheap family meals the next time your at Mom and Dad’s and take them back to campus with you. Another idea would be to befriend someone with an apartment and offer to share your food in exchange for use of his or her kitchen.
Quick side note: If you’re looking for more ways to save money at college, here are some tips to get free school supplies.
Got it? Great, now back to these delicious recipes!
So, skip the cafeteria, and try some of these yummy cheap meals for large groups and cheap family meals.
Cheap Healthy Vegetarian Meals For College Students
1. Broccoli Flatbread Pizza (Cincy Shopper) – Pizza and college pretty much go hand-in-hand, am I right? Trust me, this recipe is way better than anything you can order! Not only is it tasty, but thanks to the store-bought flatbread, this cheap family meal is pretty quick. Plus, it’ll save you even more money because it’s meatless!
Bonus: As I’ve said before, going meatless (even for one meal) can really put a dent in your grocery bill. If you’re looking for other ways to save money at the store be sure to dive into my groceries shopping secrets.
2. Spiced Sweet Potato & Hummus Buddha Bowl (Rhian’s Kitchen) – 30 minutes (20 of which are cooking time) are all that stand between you and this gluten-free and vegan cheap meal for large families. You can easily scale the ingredients up or down to make just enough for you or enough for your whole dorm! 🙂
3. Chickpea Sweet Potato Peanut Curry (Rhian’s Kitchen) – Unlike many of the other cheap recipes for families in this article, this recipe does call for a fair number of ingredients. However, it’s still super simple to make with only 8 steps, one of which is adding salt and pepper!
Bonus: This tasty dish is gluten-free. If you’re looking for more gluten-free options, look no further. Here are 21 gluten-free recipes that are sure to inspire you.
4. Spiralized Zucchini Quinoa Tomato Salad (Trial and Eater) – There’s a lot to love about this cheap meal for large groups. It requires just 5 minutes of prep time, can be served chilled or warm, stores well, and of course, is super yummy.
5. Taco Lettuce Wraps (Cincy Shopper) – Who doesn’t love Taco Tuesday, am I right? Tacos are tasty, but also an inexpensive option. What makes them inexpensive meals for large groups? The fact that they’re so customizable; you can use whatever you have on hand or is on sale. For example, you can make tacos with ground beef or ground chicken. You can use different toppings, cheeses, etc. These particular tacos are even low-carb since they use lettuce instead of shells.
Bonus: Need to feed a crowd? Here are some fantastic cheap meals for large families. These meals also work well for friendly get-togethers.
6. Veggie Omelet (Midlife Healthy Living) – Omelets are one of the quickest and easiest cheap meals for large groups. You can easily make enough for 1 person or 10. One of my favorite things about omelets is that they never have to get boring. There are infinite veggie and cheese combinations that can keep them tasting like a new dish each and every time. Plus, they’re a great way to use up produce that might soon go bad. 🙂
7. Homemade Spaghetti O’s (Strength & Sunshine) – Okay, when compared to a lot of other cheap healthy meals for college students, this one probably isn’t the healthiest. However, it is definitely healthy in comparison to store-bought Spaghetti O’s. This dish is allergy-free, gluten-free, vegan, and free of a lot of the other questionable ingredients found in the store-bought version.
Bonus: Here are even more cheap and easy meals for college students.
8. Spaghetti Squash Noodles With Spicy Peanut Sauce (Trial and Eater) – Craving Thai food? Then this cheap family meal is for you! There’s virtually no prep time (only 5 minutes) and it’s full of spicy goodness. Plus, since it uses spaghetti squash (instead of noodles), it’s gluten-free and good for you!
9. Microwave Mac and Cheese For One (Strength & Sunshine) – This is one of the cheap meals for large families that you can make in a dorm room. As long as you have access to a microwave, you can easily tackle this ooey-gooey dish.
Bonus: Looking for more easy dinner options? Look no further! Here are 90 quick and easy dinner recipes!
10. Buffalo Tahini Quinoa & Rice Wraps (Strength & Sunshine) – If you want cheap recipes for families that you can make in a dorm room, you’ve come to the right place. This recipe just requires a microwave. Tip: These wraps are freezable so make extras and save them for later. You’ll appreciate a quick dinner (or lunch option) during finals week!
11. Curried Black-Eyed Pea Salad Sandwiches (Strength & Sunshine) – 10 measly minutes are all that stand between you and this healthy cold lunch idea! In addition to being delicious, this dish is perfect for people that have food allergies because it’s gluten-free and top 8 allergy-free.
Bonus: Need fuel to help you power through the 3 o’clock slump? No problem! Here are 25 healthy cold lunch ideas.
12. Pasta With Peas (Confessions of An Overworked Mom) – Think inexpensive meals for large groups are boring and bland? Think again! This dish is creamy, hearty, and bursting with flavor. In fact, it’s so good you’ll be tempted to lick the bowl to get every drop of sauce. Don’t worry, I won’t tell if you won’t! 😉
13. Egg Muffin Cups Recipe – Paleo Breakfast Egg Muffins (Wholesome Yum) – Who says eggs are only for breakfast? Nope, you can enjoy them at any meal. Egg muffins, like omelets, make great cheap recipes for families (for the same reasons omelets do). This particular recipe is a fantastic way to eat eggs on the go as they’re neatly contained in paper muffin cups.
Bonus: Stay on budget with these 62 cheap family meals!
14. Creamy Orange Mushroom Pasta (Recipes from A Pantry) – This is not only a cheap healthy meal for college students, it’s also quick! Like really quick. You only need 5 minutes of prep time. However, this isn’t just a quick, cheap meal… it’s comfort food at its best, which is just what you need during finals week, am I right?
15. Slow Cooker Three Bean Chili (Gluten-Free, Vegan) (Recipes from A Pantry) – How would you like to come back from classes to a dorm room smelling of rich herbs and spices? Is your mouth watering already? Well, as long as you’re allowed to have a slow cooker in your dorm room, this cheap family meal can make that happen. This delicious vegetarian chili requires just 10 minutes of prep time and then you can step back and let the slow cooker do the rest.
Bonus: Here are 56 more cheap and easy family meals, including more slow cooker options!
Cheap Healthy Chicken Meals For College Students
16. One Pot Chicken Broccoli Pasta (Cincy Shopper) – Who wants to spend hours doing dishes, am I right? Thanks to this cheap meal for large families, which is a one pot recipe, clean up is a breeze! Plus you get to enjoy a protein packed hearty dish that comes together in just 30 minutes.
17. Easy Mexican Chicken Fajitas (Melanie Cooks) – Spice up your week with this cheap recipe for families. You can be chowing down in just 20 minutes, which is faster than you could get food at the nearest drive thru!
Bonus: Chicken is a great option to add protein to any dish. Here are 36 easy cheap chicken recipes that are packed with protein and sure to delight your tastebuds.
18. Easy Honey Soy BBQ Baked Chicken Legs (Melanie Cooks) – 5 ingredients and 5 minutes of prep time are all that you need to whip up this cheap meal for large groups. Tip: I think you could easily swap the chicken legs for chicken wings and turn this into an awesome game day tailgating snack.
19. One-Pot Chicken and Rice Dinner (Savory Tooth) – Here’s another one pot meal that’ll help you get through cleanup faster so you can get back to the books. Yay! Wait…. Anyway, this is one of my favorite types of inexpensive meals for large groups because it gives you the opportunity to use up any leftovers lying around.
Bonus: Here are 39 more cheap meals that’ll feed a crowd, share with your roommates or keep it all for yourself and enjoy the leftovers!
20. Southwest Skillet Chicken and Rice (Living Sweet Moments) – Cheap family meals can be easy and delicious. This particular recipe utilizes store-bought salsa to make things quicker but it doesn’t sacrifice on southwestern flavors. Tip: Check out a local farmer’s market to get fresh, homemade salsa.
21. Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders (Low Carb, Paleo) (Wholesome Yum) – Chicken tenders get a grown-up makeover with this cheap healthy meals for college students. They’re low-carb, paleo friendly, and gluten-free, so they’re a great no-guilt dinner option. Plus, they only call for 6 ingredients so you won’t have to spend hours in the grocery store searching for ingredients!
Bonus: Love chicken tenders? Check out these Goldfish encrusted chicken nuggets; they’re another easy dinner option!
22. 3-Ingredient Crock Pot Chicken Tacos (Two Healthy Kitchens) – Taco Tuesday just got a bit easier thanks to this cheap family meal. You make it in a crockpot with very little prep work (just 5 minutes), and you only need 3 ingredients! What’s not to love?
Cheap Healthy Seafood Meals For College Students
23. Korean BBQ Salmon Stir Fry (Strength & Sunshine) – Feel like your stuck in a food rut? Can’t stand one more stinking Ramen noddle dinner? I feel ya! If you’re looking to take your tastebuds on a journey, be sure to check out this cheap meal for large families. This quick meal can be ready in just 10 minutes so it’s a great option for dinner OR lunch.
Bonus: Need lunch on-the-go but don’t want to sacrifice nutritional quality? No problem! Here are 25 healthy lunch recipes.
24. Easy Loaded Tuna Mason Jar Salad (Confessions of An Overworked Mom) – This protein packed Mason jar salad is a fantastic healthy cold lunch idea. It’s as colorful as it is flavorful, comes together in just 5 minutes, and can be stored for up to a week in the fridge. Tip: Make two or three of these at the start of the week (ex. Sunday night) so you have quick options on hand when you’re pressed for time!
25. Tuna Cakes With Jalapeno and Cilantro (Taste and See) – Canned tuna is a great cheap meals for large groups staple. It’s a budget friendly ingredient that can be used in a lot of different ways (such as in these flavor filled tuna cakes). Swap almond meal for breadcrumbs to transform this into a gluten-free recipe.
Cheap Healthy Beef Meals For College Students
26. Southwest Beef and Rice Skillet (Savory Tooth) – This inexpensive meal for large groups is as versatile as it is easy to make. You can use quinoa instead of rice, which would cut down on the carbs, various vegetables, and ground chicken instead of ground beef. I love this option for college students because you can mix up the taste and enjoy this meal again and again as well as use up whatever is on sale or on hand.
27. Slow Cooker Crock Pot Beef and Broccoli (Low Carb Yum) – When I was a college student I wasn’t exactly a world class chef so I really appreciated any fool-proof recipes… like this cheap family meal. To make this recipe all you do is add all the ingredients to the crock pot and go about your business. Seriously, it’s that easy. 🙂
More Cheap Healthy Meals For College Students
28. Turkey Pumpkin Chili in the Slow Cooker (Low Carb Yum) – As a college student, fall can be really hectic. You’re trying to get back into the swing of things, manage your class load, find a job, etc. When you need something flavorful, hearty, and comforting, turn to this cheap healthy meal for college students. The pumpkin is a delicious fall addition.
Bonus: The leftovers from this tasty chili dish make a great lunch (or even dinner) the next day. Looking for more lunch ideas? Look no further. Here are some of my favorite brown bag lunch ideas.
29. Instant Pot Carnitas (Crispy Mexican Pulled Pork) (Pressure Cooker Recipes) – If you’re lucky enough to have a pressure cooker this cheap family meal will come together fast and with only 5 simple steps. This is a great way to enjoy Mexican/southwestern flavors without blowing your budget!
Want more cheap family meals that can be adapted for college students? Be sure to follow Freebie Finding Mom’s Pinterest boards including:
- Low Calorie Recipes
- Chicken Recipes
- Low Fat Recipes
- Low Carb Recipes and Diabetic Recipes
- Easy Dinner Recipes on a Budget
- Must Try Food Recipes
- Slow Cooker Meals
- Gluten-Free Recipes