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 out of the typical starving college student’s budget. Here are 30 recipes for poor college students that are delicious, filling, and as close to free as possible.
Creamy Chicken Ramen With Mushrooms
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.
Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream
This recipe only requires two ingredients and will make you want to triumphantly 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.
Frito and Corn Salad
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?
Pickled Cucumbers and Onions
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.
Chicken Fajita Quesadillas
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.
Vegetarian Black Bean Salad
Another meal for under $5, this vegetarian black bean salad is way healthier than that mayonnaise Frito concoction listed previously, but just as delicious.
Super Easy Homemade Pizza
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.
Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
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.
7UP Ice Cream
All you need for this recipe is the cheapest, 75 cent 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.
Vegetarian Noodle-Less Lasagna
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.
Chinese Egg Fried Rice
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 meat of questionable origins and make some of this Chinese egg fried rice yourself.
Apple Walnut Salad
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.
This easy and delicious sausage casserole has three ingredients and tastes like it has sixteen!
Chicken Brisket Stew
At $2.75 per serving, you’ll still have money leftover to buy a bar of chocolate and some ramen to make chocolate-covered-ramen for dessert.
Hearty Vegetarian Chili
Only $1.25 per serving and you’ll be incapacitated, recliner-bound full after eating this.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
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.
Ham and Cheddar Waffles
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!
Ramen Noodle 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.
Sweet Potato Biscuits
These sweet potato biscuits are less of a recipe and more of a lesser known trick that allow you to fancy-up some crummy old biscuits with some simple add ins.
Vegetarian Chickpeas with Broccoli and Cheese
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.
Ramen Noodle Pancakes
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.
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.
Savory Potato Salad
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.
Fancy Not Fancy Turkey Taco Soup
There’s no taco in this taco soup, so carb-haters can rejoice and get to slurping.
Stuffed Pasta Shells
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 cheap as ever.
Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
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 extra awesomeness.
Grilled Ham and Cheese with Pineapple
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.
Lazy Turkey 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.
Chocolate Eclair Cake
Perfect for the munchie maniac, this chocolate eclair cake will turn you into the doughboy from Ghostbusters.
BBQ Meatball Sliders
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?
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