I turned 30 last month so am obviously a few years removed from the broke college student life. But I remember it oh so well. College was an amazing time in my life for many reasons. I forged bonds that persist to this day. I got the first hint of direction for my career. And, of particular relevance to today’s post for college students, I was in charge of my own kitchen and grocery budget for the first time ever. I loved the freedom to flex my creativity (within the bounds of my scholarship stipend and paychecks from the mall) and actually developed some of the recipes that are currently living their best internet lives on Dash of Jazz.
I didn’t even know what blogging was back then and never thought I’d be sharing my recipes and life lessons to help so many people one day. Fast forward a couple of years and one terrible job later, I was in grad school, Pinterest was a major thing for me, and my classmates where highly interested in the meals I brought to lectures. My boss wanted to try the smoothies I sipped on during work study. And my professors were impressed with my potluck creations. That is when I was
pressured encouraged to start posting my recipes. With my post-secondary educational experiences so closely tied to the blogger I am today, it’s almost shameful that I’m just now getting around to pulling together all these easy meal hacks and ideas for college students. But better late than never, right? Whether you’re living the dorm life or have an off-campus abode–or even if you live with family, there are meal options to suit your lifestyle below.
Make Magic in Your Microwave
The microwave can be your best friend in college because you have access to one whether you’re in a dorm or an apartment. And, if you didn’t know, you can make microwave meals that don’t come in a box in just a few minutes. Here are delicious ideas you’ll love:
Microwave Omelettes – Ready in about two minutes and a great option for that balanced breakfast you might think you no longer have time for. Check out this quick Youtube tutorial.
Microwave Oatmeal – You probably already know you can use those little instant oatmeal packs for quick breakfasts but here’s something even better and just as fast: homemade instant oatmeal mix.
Microwave French Toast – When you want to do something fancy for breakfast or brunch at home, make this mini microwave French toast.
Microwave Easy Mac – Convenience is key in college (and every point thereafter, honestly). But that doesn’t automatically mean low quality. Here’s a better version of easy mac you can microwave in minutes.
Mug Cakes – Yes, cake is possible in the microwave! Perfectly portioned for one person for whenever your sweet tooth hits.
Portable Food is Your Friend
Your college days are likely the busiest you’ve encountered yet. Life can and will get busier after college so take a deep breath. In the meantime, I’ve got portable food ideas for dayyyyssss.
- Breakfast Cookies – Because you’re grown enough to actually eat cookies for breakfast now but probably want to avoid the freshman 15, right?
- Oatmeal Muffins – oatmeal you can pick up and carry to class…or the rec center, step practice, lab, whatever. I got fifty-leven versions:
- Egg Muffins or “egg bites” are basically omelettes you can hold in your hand and eat on the go. Here are really simple egg muffins and gourmet egg muffins.
- Smoothies are the ultimate portable food option and work for all kinds of meal replacement and post-workout recovery. I got into smoothies during grad school and am happy to share these with you:
- Almond Breakfast Smoothie – Will keep you full through your 8am class to lunch.
- Blacker the Berry Smoothie – Get all the good stuff (vitamins, antioxidants, etc.) without even having to try–or chew!
- Cherry Ginger Smoothie – Naturally sweet and will wake you up in the morning.
- Glowing Sweet Green Smoothie – In case your highlight isn’t popping quite how you want it to, try this for that inside-out glow you just can’t buy.
- Post-Workout Smoothie – Tastes like a Wendy’s frosty!
- Summer Fruit Smoothie – Great for detoxing after the turnup gets too real.
- Lastly, these healthy snack options will help keep you fueled but not weighed down throughout the day.
Elevated Ramen Noodles for College Students
Ramen is a classic with college students that I never got all the way into back in the day. It’s come a long way since then and you’re just in time to reap all the yummy benefits of that evolution. Here are two easy ways to elevate your ramen game that don’t cost a lot of money or take much time.
Try these Sesame Garlic Ramen Noodles, from The Salty Marshmallow, too!
Easy Meals that will Impress Your Friends
When you do have access to a full kitchen, whether it be in your apartment or maybe a communal one in the dorm or sorority house, your options increase exponentially. But that can be a bit intimidating. Here are some unbelievably easy recipes to keep in your back pocket for date nights or group meals. Everyone will think you’re a five-star chef and I won’t tell them any different. 🙂
- 20-minute salmon dinner – Looks super gourmet and takes just. 20. minutes.
- 30-Minute Chicken Noodle Soup – Even better than your mom’s because you can do it by yourself. I used to make this before winter finals so my roommate and I had something comforting and yummy to eat when we had no time to leave the apartment let alone cook!
- One-Pot Sausage & Spinach Pasta – Magically cooks in one pot before your eyes.
- Pineapple Salsa Chicken – You literally pour a jar of salsa, canned pineapple, and chicken breast into a slow cooker. That’s it! And it’s amazing.
- Quick Shrimp & Tomato Pasta – Don’t make this for a FWB unless you never want to shake them. This is a date night material meal.
- Spaghetti Carbonara – Seems fancy but uses just a few common ingredients.
Food Tools for College Students
In parting, my advice to college students is to be open to trying new things. The college experience should include a healthy amount of experimentation and self discovery. That includes food. You’ll be in a place with people from all over your state, country, and world. It’s perfectly normal to want to cling to the comforts of home but I encourage you to take this opportunity to expand your palate a little bit. I hope this post is helpful to you. Share this with all your friends who need it and be sure to pin this post on Pinterest so everybody can get up on game. Thanks for reading!