Five easy to cook meals for college students on a budget!

Photo: Diana Juliao

Being a college student means putting effort into your studies, showing up for classes, after paying for them and buying books. Besides, you work, maybe full time, and still find time to sleep. However, what happens when you have to eat but you’re on a budget? A few students expressed what they think about when planning to eat at home rather than spend money out. One student said, “I feel college students want to make something that’s easy to clean.” That’s something else a student has to worry about. Another student said, “plan out the week’s meals and only buy what you need. Don’t eat out, no matter how hard it is. Leftovers are your friends when you’re too tired to cook.” What about eating healthy? I’m here to tell you how you can eat healthy, shop on a budget, get your dishes clean, and still have time to binge-watch that new series on Netflix.

These five recipes and tips I’ve come up with will help you eat good and save money. Three of the best grocery stores I’ve found to be resourceful for this big reveal are Walmart, Aldi’s, and Publix. The last store is best known for its buy-one-get-one, bo-go, deals.

First off, the tips everyone needs to know, young or old, is couponing! A student put it, “We are living in hard times, find coupons!” Publix is great for their coupons and they also take competing vendors such as Target, Walmart, Whole Foods. Coupons can be found at the entrance of any grocery store but you can also find some online. A great site I use is, there are also apps that have coupons and ones that pay you money back when you buy things from their lists! The savings are out there; you just need to look for them.

Second, when cooking something in a skillet or in the oven, always use tin foil! Wrap the baking sheet or skillet with tin foil this way when you’re done, you just take the foil off and you didn’t dirty a thing. Less dishes for you, YAY!

Third, play some music while cooking, this makes time fly by and you start making your own dance moves.

Here are my top five easiest and most delicious meals I eat on a weekly basis in reverse order:

5.) Four-cheese gourmet grilled cheese:

Things you’ll need to create this deliciously cheesy meal:

  1. Bread of your choice

I’ve found that Publix has the best deals for “bo-go” bread and you can always stick the extra loaf in the freezer so it won’t go bad until you’re ready to use it.

  1. Swiss, Cheddar, Provolone, and Muenster cheese

You can get this in the dairy section or save money and get a quarter pound of each at the deli. Always remember that fresh is best!

  1. Butter

I always buy the biggest tub of Country Crock Original Butter since I use it quite often, it lasts a really long time.

Once you have your ingredients:

Step 1: You toast your bread 45-60 seconds then place some butter on a skillet

Step 2: Put your pieces of bread down and layer the cheese inside.

Step 3: Once you see the bread start to golden, go ahead and flip it to the other side.

This meal takes no longer than 7 minutes and costs no more than $12; the ingredients will also last for a second or third meal depending on how delicious it was.

4.) Chicken Quesadilla Explosion

For this awesome dish you’ll need:

  1. Tortillas
  2. Chicken strips

You can find the Tyson ready-made chicken strips in the frozen section; this is the fastest to make.

  1. Black beans
  2. Mushrooms, Peppers, Cilantro, Onions, and any other produce items you’d want to add
  3. Shredded cheddar cheese
  4. Sour cream

This recipe is a little more time consuming than 7 minutes.

Step 1: Thaw out your chicken, you can defrost it in the microwave.

Step 2: Preheat your oven to 390 degrees.

Step 3: Grab your produce and dice them all up.

Step 4: Add your produce items, chicken strips, and black beans in a skillet with olive oil, let it marinate together and warm up.

Step 5: Grab a baking sheet and place your tortillas on there, add all your ingredients from the skillet and shredded cheese, add a little sour cream too.

Step 6: Put them in the oven and let them bake for about 10-13 minutes.

Now you’re good to go, add some sour cream or guac on the side and you have yourself a quesadilla explosion of deliciousness.

3.) Turkey Meatballs

For this you’ll need:

  1. Ground turkey
  2. Eggs
  3. Mushrooms
  4. Cilantro
  5. Garlic powder

This one is really easy to make but you have to get your hands dirty.

Step 1: You’ll need to preheat your oven to 410 degrees

Step 2: Dice your ground turkey so it’s easy to grab. Put all the turkey in a bowl; crack two eggs in that bowl. Add your seasoning, mushrooms, cilantro, and mix it all together.

Step 3: Grab a spoon to easily get your creation and sculpt it into a perfect little ball. Create as many as you want.

Step 4: Place them onto a baking sheet. Once your oven is preheated, go ahead and stick those bad boys in.

This recipe will be about 7-10 minutes prep time and 32 minutes in the oven. Once they’re out go ahead and enjoy.

2.) Butter Noodles

This recipe is super easy and there are only a few ingredients you’ll need:

  1. Pasta
  2. Butter
  3. Olive oil
  4. Salt & Pepper

Step 1: Boil your pasta on high in water until you see bubbles jumping up; be careful though because it will get really hot! This will take about 10-15 minutes so your noodles are the perfect texture.

Step 2: Once your pasta is boiled, strain the noodles and grab a skillet.

Step 3: On the skillet, heat up some butter and olive oil.

Step 4: Add your pasta, your salt and pepper, and more butter to your liking!

This is an easy go-to meal that’s quick and delicious. It’s also great comfort food when you’re watching Netflix!

1.) Baked Salmon Asparagus dish

For this you won’t need too much either:

  1. Salmon (fresh or frozen)
  2. Asparagus
  3. Cilantro
  4. Lemon
  5. Butter
  6. Olive oil

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 390 degrees,

Step 2: Thaw out your salmon (if bought frozen).

Step 3: Cut the ends of your asparagus.

Step 4: Season your salmon with cilantro, salt and pepper, lemon, and any other things you’d like!

Step 5: Slice a few lemons and place your salmon on a baking sheet. Add the sliced lemons on top for extra flavor.

Step 6: Drizzle Olive Oil

For your asparagus:

Step 1: Lather a baking sheet with butter and place your asparagus on there.

Step 2: Add salt and pepper and any other seasoning of your choice (garlic powder pairs exceptionally well with this) drizzle olive oil on top.

Place both in oven, salmon for 27-34 minutes, or until you see the top getting crispy.

Asparagus only takes 15 minutes!

This is an Easy and rather tasty meal; it’s also healthy for you! So grandma will be happy to hear you’re eating your greens!

I hope these tips helped in creating delicious cost effective meals out of everyday groceries!

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