College is expensive, everything from tuition to books is a hefty cost. If you don’t have a job in college, or if most of your income goes to your rent, budgeting can be crucial to your way of life. With so many expenses, it can be hard to plan cheap meals. While you can get creative with cooking, here are ten basic meals that will stretch your budget.
1. Fried Rice
You can buy a large bag of rice and make it last throughout the entire semester. While you can make a variety of recipes with rice, fried rice is an easy one. All you need to do is cook rice, toss it in olive oil and soy sauce, add some frozen veggies, and maybe add a scrambled egg. You can make enough for one or make a larger batch and eat it throughout the week.
2. Ramen Noodles
Ramen noodles are a college student staple. They are cheap, easy to make, and adequately filling. You can also try different ways to mix it up, like adding a boiled egg to it or roasted chicken. There are numerous ways to customize ramen and make it a whole new meal.
3. Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is another college student classic. It’s easy to make and it will keep you well-fed. Plus, who can resist its cheesy goodness? Adding bacon bits or chicken to macaroni can make the meal even more delicious.
4. Baked Potatoes
Potatoes are affordable and you can buy them in bulk. If you want to make a baked potato, just poke some holes into it with a fork and microwave it for about ten minutes. You can top it with chili, sour cream, cheese, or veggies for a delicious meal.
5. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
When you are feeling a little homesick or frustrated with your classes, try having a grilled cheese sandwich. The classic meal might help you feel a little better. You can pair the sandwich with tomato soup or add ham and tomato to the sandwich to make it a little different.
6. Chicken and Veggies
Meat and fresh veggies are going to be more expensive than frozen meals or pantry staples, but it’s wise to make sure you are getting enough protein and nutrients in your meals. The extra couple of dollars is worth it for your health. You can make chicken and veggies a bunch of ways with different marinades, spices, and veggies.
If you are getting sick of ramen noodles, try spaghetti. Spaghetti noodles and sauce are both affordable, and you can add ground beef or sausage to amplify the flavor. Grab a salad for a side and make it a real meal!
As a cheap source of protein, eggs are a great meal for breakfast… or dinner. There are many ways to cook eggs that will help you to not get bored with them. You can poach, scramble, or fry them, or add some veggies and cheese and make it an omelet.
Oatmeal is a good, hearty breakfast that will get you up and going in the morning. There are different flavors you can buy, and, if you don’t want to buy milk, you can make it with water.
10. Frozen Pizza
Some days you just need to eat a slice of pizza and get to studying. It’s nice to have a couple of frozen pizzas in the freezer for occasions like this… or if you just feel like treating yourself.
You can make your budget stretch with simple solutions like these. With so little time to eat and cook between classes, study groups, and work, these cheap and basic meals make it easy.