When my son moved into his first apartment as a college sophomore, he asked me to jot down some recipes he could make without help and could afford to make without calling and begging me for money. So, I put together a small cookbook full of easy recipes for college students.
I was pretty sure the cookbook would collect dust or get lost right away and my son would sustain himself on Ramen noodles, scrambled eggs, and baked potatoes like I did. Imagine my surprise when he started sending me pictures of his home cooked meals!
When I told him I was writing this post and asked him what some of his favorite recipes from the cookbook were, he even sent me some pictures of him making one of the dishes! Still a self-proclaimed amateur cook, he confirmed that these are great, easy recipes for college students.
What I Considered When Choosing These Easy Recipes for College Students
Before I get to the recipes, let me fill you in on a few details. These are definitely all easy recipes for college students to prepare, but I wanted to make sure they were actually meals they’d WANT to make. Here’s what I considered:
First, my son had a lot of interests in high school, none of them were cooking. So while my teen daughter can whip up a gourmet meal (and often does), my son had virtually no cooking skills when he asked for these recipes. I took that lack of cooking experience into account.
Second, my son lives on a very tight budget at school. I took his limited funds into account when choosing recipes too. No expensive cuts of meat or gourmet spices here!
Third, I kept in mind that grocery shopping isn’t nearly as convenient for a college student as it is for me. My son doesn’t have a car at school and has to be able to carry all of his groceries several blocks. Therefore, all of the recipes I chose for him had few ingredients overall and ones that wouldn’t go bad after just a few days.
Finally, I took into account that college kids’ diets include a lot of pizza and fast food. I wanted the dishes to appeal to his taste buds so he’d be just as (or more) likely to cook as to walk around the corner and get a burger and fries.
Easy Recipes For College Students
The cookbook I put together for my son had dozens of recipes because I wanted him to have a good variety. He has just a handful of favorites though so those are the ones I’m sharing with you.
Chicken Pot Pie
One of my son’s favorite dishes at home is chicken pot pie so I had to include a version in his cookbook. It’s not exactly the same way I make it at home, but close enough that this version would keep him from being homesick.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup
- 1 (16 oz) bag frozen mixed vegetables
- 1 pkg refrigerated biscuit dough
- salt and pepper
- Boil the chicken breasts until done. Dice.
- In a large bowl, mix together the soup, frozen vegetables, and diced chicken. Pour mixture into casserole dish. Break biscuit dough into 1-inch pieces and layer on top of the filling.
- Bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown.
Ramen Noodle Casserole
I didn’t want my son living on Ramen noodles, but that didn’t mean he had to banish them from his diet completely. Beefed up with meat and vegetables, it’s actually a pretty complete meal and it’s super affordable.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 (3 oz) package beef-flavor ramen noodles
- 2 cups water
- 1 (12 oz) bag frozen mixed vegetables
- In a skillet, cook beef until no longer pink; drain.
- Add noodles with contents of seasoning packet and water.
- Bring to a boil; cook for 3 minutes or until noodles are tender.
- Add the veggies and cook until tender, about 3 minutes as well.
Sausage Potato Skillet
This dish has always been one of my own favorites for busy weeknights because it’s so fast and easy to make. Plus, all my kids love it so it’s one of the few dishes I don’t get ANY complaints about.
- 4 large yellow potatoes
- 1 (12 ounce) package smoked sausage
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbs oil
- salt and pepper
- Pierce each potato a few times with a fork. Microwave for 3 minutes (should still be firm). Slice into cubes.
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté the garlic, onion and bell pepper for 2-3 minutes.
- Add potato chunks and season with salt and pepper. Turn every 2-3 minutes.
- Slice the smoked sausage into 1/4 inch pieces. Add to the skillet and continue to stir every 2-3 minutes until the potatoes and sausage are browned evenly.
How to Put Together a College Cookbook
For my son, I just printed off the couple dozen recipes that met my criteria and put each one in a page protector. Then, I put all of the sheets into a 3-prong plastic folder. This is a super inexpensive way to make a splatter-proof cookbook.
If you’re like me, you’ll be tempted to print off several dozen recipes. Try to limit yourself to 20-25 though.
Any more and it will be overwhelming and the cookbook will get neglected. Over time, your college student will let you know which recipes they like the best and you can send more recipes that suit their taste and cooking style.
More Tips for Supporting College Kids
If you have a child in college, you might find some helpful information in these other posts:
- 5 Ways to Stay Connected With Your Child at College
- Best Apps for College Students
- Finals Survival Kit
- College Dorm Packing List and College Apartment Packing List