Top 30 Recipes for Starving Students

recipes for starving students

The average college graduate’s student loan debt is approximately $30,000, which means that even grubby, cheap chain restaurants like IHOP and Denny’s are STILL out of the typical starving college student’s budget. And, let’s face it, Ramen Noodles are a student’s best friend!

Recipes for starving students provide low-cost, easy-to-prepare recipes for busy college students or anyone trying to keep a tight food budget. These budget-friendly recipes are full of fresh ingredients and are designed to get people to cook nutritious, delicious dishes for themselves without breaking the bank.

With detailed instructions and helpful tips on shopping, storage, and nutrition, recipes for starving students is an invaluable resource for budget-conscious cooks.

Here are 30 recipes for poor college students that are delicious, filling, and as close to free as possible….and yes, Ramen Noodles make several appearances on this list!

Creamy Chicken Ramen Noodles With Mushrooms (Onions and Garlic, too, if you are feeling FRISKY!)

Four ingredients: Ramen noodles, water, a can of creamy chicken soup, and a can of mushrooms. This can easily feed one person for two days or could be disguised as some sort of homemade delicacy by adding a little fresh basil or cilantro garnish to redefine the meaning of “study” night. Gourmet is just an attitude.

RECIPE: Creamy Chicken Ramen with Mushrooms

Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream (I’m drooling…)

This recipe only requires two ingredients and will make you want to flip off the entire ice cream section at your local grocery store every time you go food shopping. But just in case one of your professors happens to be there at the same time and sees you making vulgar hand motions at a bunch of frozen food products, you probably shouldn’t.

RECIPE: Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Frito and Corn Salad (Sounds interesting…)

Paula Deen sure knows how to make a good salad, if you can really call it that. “Fritos” and “health” are far from synonymous and “Frito corn salad” is somewhat redundant since Fritos are just corn in chip form, but beggars can’t always be choosers. Besides, it’s totally delicious, so who cares how much mayonnaise is clogging up your arteries if you’re having fun?

RECIPE: Frito and Corn Salad

Pickled Cucumbers and Onions (as an add-on for flavor and excitement)

Perfect for adding to any salad, sandwich, or stir-fry, these pickled cucumbers and onions only have to sit overnight in your fridge before they’re packed with flavor and ready to make the flavorless Ramen dishes of your friends fry themselves with envy. Plus, you can add basically any spices you want; out of dill. Just put some pepper in there, or some cumin, or some of that mystery spice that was left in the back of your dorm cabinet by the last resident with the label scratched off.

RECIPE: Pickled Cucumbers and Onions

Chicken Fajita Quesadillas (YUM!)

Feed yourself for two days with these chicken fajita quesadillas that only cost $5 for the entire meal. The website recommends using a pizza cutter to chop these into pieces, but the truly cheap medical student peon can utilize scissors or some sort of rusty old medical tool pilfered from the lab.

RECIPE: Chicken Fajita Quesadillas

Vegetarian Black Bean Salad (for those health-conscious students)

Another meal for under $5, this vegetarian black bean salad is way healthier than that mayonnaise Frito concoction listed previously, but just as delicious.

RECIPE: Vegetarian Black Bean Salad

Super Easy Homemade Pizza (PIZZZZZAAA!!!)

There are only three ingredients in this no-brainer pizza recipe, but if you were feeling really fancy you could splurge an extra dollar on some peppers, onion, or expired brownish chicken from your local grocery.

RECIPE: Super Easy Homemade Pizza

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole (Casserole = Many Meals!)

Prepare to never want to eat broccoli or chicken again, because you’ll be sick of it after gorging yourself on the leftovers from this chicken and broccoli casserole that costs under ten dollars to make and will last you approximately a week.

RECIPE: Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Cherry 7UP Float (Tasty Treat!)

All you need for this recipe is the cheapest, 75 cents 2-liter soda of your choice (grape, lemon-lime, whatever) and some condensed milk, and soon you’ll be selling your own ‘gourmet’ ice cream to the trust fund kids at school for ten dollars a pint.

RECIPE: Cherry 7Up Float

Vegetarian Noodle-Less Lasagna (For when you’ve lost your noodle)

Carb and meat-free, this noodle-less vegetarian lasagna is a perfect guilt-free meal for a lonely night reading up on animal rights for your ethics class.

RECIPE: Zucchini Noodle Free Vegetarian Lasagna

Chinese Egg Fried Rice (Mmmmm…hungry.)

Chinese food is cheap enough until you consider that you can basically clone their fried rice for a third of both the price and the unhealthiness. Skip paying $5 for someone to fry up your food in a pan of week-old grease and make some of this Chinese egg-fried rice yourself.

RECIPE: Chinese Egg Fried Rice

Apple Walnut Salad (and, Cranberries!)

If you’ve had enough grease to last you a lifetime and need something raw and simple to try to apologize to your body for stuffing it full of strange meats and carbs, this apple walnut salad might do the trick.

RECIPE: Apple Walnut Salad

Simple Egg and Sausage Casserole (Gotta love simple!)

This easy and delicious sausage casserole has just FIVE ingredients and tastes like it has sixteen!

RECIPE: Simple Egg and Sausage Casserole

Easy Chicken Stew (Gotta Love Easy!)

At $2.75 per serving, you’ll still have money left over to buy a bar of chocolate and some ramen to make chocolate-covered ramen for dessert.

RECIPE: Easy Chicken Stew

Hearty Vegetarian Chili (Hearty means SATISFIED!)

Only $1.25 per serving and you’ll be incapacitated, recliner-bound full after eating this.

RECIPE: Hearty Vegetarian Chili

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cookies (I have no words.)

Another lifesaving and belt-busting 2-ingredient dessert, these Reese’s peanut butter cup cookies are the perfect solution to the 80-pack of Reese’s Cups your mom bought you from Costco.

RECIPE: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Ham and Cheddar Waffles (Quit waffling around and make these! Stat!)

These ham and cheddar waffles bring to mind the theme song for Pizza Bagels. By now you’re old enough to realize that you can have pizza anytime even when it’s not on a bagel, and the same goes for waffles. Anytime. And you can’t stop me, Mom!

RECIPE: Ham and Cheddar Waffles

Ramen Noodle Chimichangas (Chimichangas! Chimichangas! Chimichangas!)

Everyone knows that Ramen noodles can be molded to basically any shape, taste, or form, but Ramen chimichangas are probably something you were too busy to think about while you were absent-mindedly dripping soy sauce over your math textbook while simultaneously texting on Facebook and trying to look up the latest pictures on Reddit. Uh, I mean, studying.

RECIPE: Ramen Noodle Chimichangas

Sweet Potato Biscuits (Who doesn’t love a good biscuit?)

These sweet potato biscuits are less of a recipe and more of a lesser-known trick that allows you to fancy up some crummy old biscuits with some simple add-ins.

RECIPE: Sweet Potato Biscuits

Vegetarian Chickpeas with Broccoli and Cheese (Again, vegetarian…)

Cheesy, filling, and cheap, this meatless recipe is safe for that vegetarian girl down the hall and will only cost you a few bucks to make.

RECIPE: Chickpeas with Broccoli and Cheese

Ramen Noodle Pancakes (Ramen Noodles…for the WIN!)

The holy grail of cheap strikes again with these delicious Ramen pancakes, which are basically just fried noodles slathered with sauce or gravy. Nutritious? If your sauce of choice is 100% ground-up vitamins, then yes.

RECIPE: Instant Noodle Pancakes

Easy Omelettes (Protein!)

Smash up a bunch of eggs and you’ve basically got a well-rounded breakfast going for you. But you should probably add a few things, too, unless you just hate flavor.

RECIPE: Easy Awesome Omelette

Savory Spanish Potato Salad (Oooohhh….savory…)

So you want a salad, only not really. Your brain is looping R Kelly’s “But my body’s telling me yeeee-eee-eeeesss” and you don’t know what to do. The answer lies in this savory potato salad recipe.

RECIPE: Savory Potato Salad

Keto Taco Soup (For the Keto folks!)

There’s no taco in this taco soup, so carb-haters can rejoice and get to slurping.

RECIPE: Keto Taco Soup

Super Easy Meaty and Cheesy Stuffed Pasta Shells (Super Easy Meaty and Cheesy!)

Kraft cheese can be used or you can opt to spend an extra dollar for something that isn’t going to eat holes in you after you’re eating it. Either way, this stuffed pasta shells recipe remains as cheap as ever.

RECIPE: Stuffed Pasta Shells

Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (These are da BOMB!)

There aren’t very many ingredients in this delicious recipe and even those who dislike the mushy, tasteless consistency of oatmeal can enjoy these dark chocolate oatmeal cookies. Add raisins for a little something extra. Wait, RAISINS?! On second thought…no.

RECIPE: Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Ham and Pineapple Pizza Toasty (Gotta try this!)

This grilled ham and cheese with pineapple sandwich is a new and awesome twist to the traditional grilled cheese sandwich, a thing you’re probably sick of if you’re both starving and a total cheese lover.

RECIPE: Grilled Ham and Cheese with Pineapple

Easy Turkey Macaroni (Can’t go wrong with Macaroni)

This meal can be made for just over a dollar. Beats canned Beefaroni, if you’re willing to put in minimal effort because opening a can and dumping it into a microwaveable bowl doesn’t count as any kind of effort at all.

RECIPE: Lazy Turkey Macaroni

No Bake Chocolate Eclair Cake (I said… NO BAKE… need I say more?)

Perfect for the munchie maniac, this chocolate eclair cake will turn you into the doughboy from Ghostbusters.

RECIPE: Chocolate Eclair Cake

BBQ Meatball Sliders (SLIDERS! Fun to make with your friends!)

These BBQ meatball sliders are another gem for under $5 and will probably end up being better than the greasy spoon on campus which charges approximately $10 for one freaking sandwich. What do they think you are, not poor?

RECIPE: BBQ Meatball Sliders

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it easy to pack on the pounds while in college?

Yes, it is very possible to pack on the pounds while in college. Many college students report unhealthy eating habits and lack of activity, both of which are factors that can lead to weight gain.

Additionally, college students often experience higher levels of stress, which can also contribute to weight gain and difficulty maintaining a healthy weight.

What simple kitchen-related appliances are best for a student’s dorm room?

  • Mini Fridge
  • Microwave
  • Hot Plate
  • Toaster Oven
  • Coffee Maker
  • Hand Mixer
  • Blender
  • 2 Slice Toaster
  • Crockpot

How can students eat healthily while in college?

  • Plan meals: Planning meals for the day or week when possible can help you make healthier eating choices.
  • Eat breakfast: Breakfast helps jumpstart your metabolism and gives you energy throughout the day.
  • Make healthy snack choices: Healthy snacks can help avoid excessive calorie consumption.
  • Prepare your own meals: Cooking your own food eliminates unhealthy preservatives and excess salt. You can also control portions and caloric intake.
  • Limit processed foods: Processed foods are often loaded with sodium and fat and offer little nutritional value.
  • Stay hydrated: Water is essential for energy and overall health. Aim for 6 to 8 glasses per day.
  • Limit eating out: Eating out can lead to eating higher calorie and higher fat meals.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are usually low in calories yet full of essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise helps burn calories and reduce stress, promoting an overall healthier lifestyle.
  • Get enough sleep: Getting sufficient sleep is important for overall health and can help prevent overeating.

Is a healthy breakfast necessary for college students to begin their day?

Yes, a healthy breakfast is important for college students to begin their day. Eating a nutritious breakfast provides energy, helps to improve focus, and can reduce hunger throughout the day. Eating a healthy breakfast may also promote weight control and help reduce the risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

What are some easy grab-and-go snacks college students can eat on a budget?

  • Trail mix
  • Granola bars
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Dried fruit
  • Mixed nuts and dried fruit
  • Yogurt
  • Oatmeal cups
  • Fruit and nut bars
  • Cereal bars
  • Frozen fruit bars
  • Pretzels
  • Protein bars
  • Crackers
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Peanut butter and crackers
  • Whole-wheat crackers and hummus
  • Dark chocolate
  • Peanut butter and banana roll-up

Rowan Jones
Chief Editor