Dinner Ideas for College Students

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Any college student, knows how busy and hectic life can be. However, no matter how busy you are, it’s important to prioritize a good healthy dinner for your physical and mental health. Good news – there are numerous dinner ideas that are healthy and easy to prepare. There are more than 45 dinner ideas for college students recipes below, including meat, pasta, vegetarian, and vegan recipes.

top image - stack of quesadillas, bottom image - pasta and salad with title text in between reading 45+ Dinner Ideas for College Students and anyone looking for quick easy recipes

These recipes ideas are perfect for college students, young twenty-somethings or anyone looking for quick meals that are easy to make.

What should I eat for dinner as a college student?

Dinner options can be quick, easy, and budget-friendly for a college student. Some ideas include making a stir fry with vegetables, rice, and protein like chicken or tofu. Pasta dishes like spaghetti with tomato sauce or fettuccine Alfredo are also easy and affordable. Another option is to make a sandwich with deli meat and cheese or a grilled cheese sandwich. Don’t forget about breakfast for dinner – scrambled eggs and toast can be a simple and satisfying meal option. Check all the easy recipes chosen to be dorm or college apartment friendly to find your favorites.

Meals for college students should be easy to make, require basic kitchen equipment, use basic ingredients and take approximately 30 minutes or less to make.

Dinner Ideas for College Students

Easy Meat Recipes

  • Oven Baked Meatball Sandwich – You’ll need meatballs, pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, and sandwich rolls. That’s it! 
  • Easy Taco Casserole – Just 5 ingredients and less than 30 minutes will have you whipping up a tasty taco casserole that’ll become a weekly fave.
  • Steak Bites and Potatoes – This Asian Steak Bites and Potatoes features seared beef cubes and potatoes in a garlicky butter sauce. It comes together in under 30 minutes and everything is cooked in just one pan.
  • Easy Egg Roll in a Bowl – A pound of sausage and a bag of coleslaw makes for an amazing dinner! Spice up Egg Roll In A Bowl however you want to.
  • Ham and Cheese Sliders – Hawaiian rolls filled with ham, cheese, onions and a delicious mustard sauce, then brushed with butter.

Easy Chicken Recipes

  • Paprika Parmesan Chicken – Crispy, crunchy, smoky, salty Paprika Parmesan Chicken takes just 10 minutes of prep, and then into a hot oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Perfectly sized so you can eat it as finger food, in a wrap, or as an entire meal with your favorite veggies.
  • Chicken Wonton Soup – This 10-minute wonton soup is perfect when you want something quick and easy. Make this satisfying dinner in less time than it takes to get through the line at the drive-through.
  • Easy Tahini Chicken Salad – A quick and easy chicken salad without the mayo and full of fresh veggies! This gluten-free and paleo Tahini Chicken Salad is top allergy-free, healthy, delicious, and perfect to add to your meal prep routine.
  • Easy Chicken Quesadilla – Make these Easy Mexican Chicken Quesadillas with leftover rotisserie chicken (or home cooked chicken). This is an easy 20 minute dinner that can be gluten-free if you use a gluten-free tortilla wrap.
  • Apricot-Ginger Glazed Chicken – Apricot-ginger glazed chicken is a flavorful chicken dinner that uses just 3 ingredients and takes less than 20 minutes to make.
  • BBQ Cheesy Chicken Wraps – These super-fast BBQ Chicken Wraps are loaded with the barbecue flavor you crave. And they’re ready in less than 10 minutes.
  • Grilled Chicken Wraps – These grilled chicken wraps are perfect for a quick meal! They’re packed with flavor, really easy and quick to make and perfect for packed lunches and picnics.
  • Low Carb Pizza Chicken Skillet – Sheet pan recipe is one of the easiest ways to prepare a meal for the whole family. Simply season chicken and vegetables, lay on the sheet pan and bake.
  • Chicken with Rosemary and Mushrooms – Seared thighs are topped with a savory sauce that is perfect for serving over rice or pasta. And only a handful of ingredients are needed to make this tasty dish.
close up of pasta dish in white bowl

Easy Macaroni & Noodle Recipes

  • Spaghetti Aglio Olio – An easy and inexpensive meal, perfect for those on a budget. Spaghetti aglio olio uses cheese, chili and garlic and pasta from your pantry.
  • Tuna Noodle for Two – This is a quick and easy tuna noodle made with ingredients you keep in the pantry
  • Pantry Chicken Spaghetti – This an easy and flavorful chicken spaghetti made with accessible pantry item. 
  • Allergy-free Macaroni and Cheese – This microwave gluten-free, vegan, and top 8 allergy-free mac & cheese for one is just the recipe you need! Nothing beats a quick and easy bowl of macaroni and cheese for lunch that’s healthy and doesn’t require pots and pans!
  • Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese –  All you need is 20 minutes and a love of Italian food with this vegan Bolognese. Gently simmered with classic Italian herbs, fragrant garlic, and roasted tempeh “meat” this is sure to become your favorite vegan spaghetti sauce!
  • 5 Ingredient Lasagna – This 5 ingredient lasagna is great for a quick dinner for those hectic weeknight dinners for college students. This main course will please any crowd.
  • Simple Tomato Sauce Pasta – A homemade tomato pasta sauce that is healthy, easy and is ready in less than 30 minutes. Gluten-free options available and only requires 7 ingredients.
  • Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce – Fresh tomato summer pasta sauce is a delicious, healthy, vegetarian dinner recipe, and a perfect use for garden tomatoes.
  • 5 Ingredient Microwave Mac and Cheese – An easy to make macaroni and cheese that is always a favorite.
  • Quick & Easy Tuna Pasta – The perfect meal for hungry students. Just a few cheap ingredients, which should be in your pantry anyway. Ready in 15 minutes.

Easy Vegetarian & Vegan Recipes

  • Lentil Dahl – This simple and delicious lentil dahl is made with just a few pantry ingredients. Red lentils are cooked with fragrant spices, and creamy coconut milk until a creamy and thick texture is reached.
  • Mushroom Stew – This is an easy one-pot meal that is ready in less than 30 minutes. You can eat this delicious Mushroom Stew all year round and it goes well with pasta, quinoa, rice or mashed potatoes.
  • Build Your Own Nourish Bowl – Looking for a balanced, nutritious, delicious and easy to make meal idea? Options with both meat and veggie protein.
  • Peach Panzella Salad – This quick and easy panzanella only takes a few minutes to throw together, but it makes you feel so fancy.
  • Vegan Burrito Bowl – This Vegan Burrito Bowl Recipe combines seasoned black beans and fajita veggies for a healthy and delicious meal that’s sure to satisfy. You need just 6 ingredients and 20 minutes to put together this oil-free & totally delicious Chipotle-style feast! 
  • Boiled Egg Sandwich –  A simple, quick, extremely delicious egg sandwich that can be made within 10 minutes if boiled eggs are already in hand.
  • Gluten-Free Vegan Pizza – Gluten-Free and Vegan Pizza Bagels that are top 8 allergy-free, easy to assemble, and totally customizable! Perfect for a quick lunch, dinner, or a big after school snack!
  • Smokey Tomato White Bean Soup – Loaded with fire-roasted tomatoes, tender white beans, sautéed veggies, and warm seasonings – this soup is packed with flavor and done in no time!
  • Thai Peanut Tempeh with Rice – Here is a delicious dinner for vegans and vegetarians: easy to make in an electric wok.
  • Vegan Sloppy Joes –  Mouthwatering, delicious vegan sloppy joes are the perfect addition to your vegan sandwich collection! Look no further to satisfy your craving for comfort food, with a healthy, vegan twist.
  • Vegan Egg Fried Rice –  Vegan egg fried rice that is made up of scrambled tofu. Super flavorful, customizable and is ready under 30 minutes.
  • Perfect Omelet with Avocado and Veggies – Learn how to make the perfect omelette recipe, step by step with tips and tricks! It also happens to be a keto omelette, but you don’t need to be low carb to enjoy it.
  • Keto Vegetable Frittata – Prep a cast iron vegetable frittata and enjoy all week long! This keto frittata recipe includes an easy 4-ingredient formula for how to make a frittata, with any vegetables you like.
  • Lazy Falafel –  This Lazy Falafel is super easy to make, will take up less than 30 minutes of your time, and tastes every bit as delicious as the traditional version! Vegan and gluten-free.
  • Vegan Sweet Potato Buddha Bowl – This Vegan Sweet Potato Buddha Bowl is the perfect easy, tasty and healthy plant-based meal. Also gluten-free.

Other Easy College Recipes

  • Chili Loaded Baked Potato – These chili loaded baked potatoes are super easy and perfect for a college student budget.
  • Build Your Own Nourish Bowl – Looking for a balanced, nutritious, delicious and easy to make meal idea? Options with both meat and veggie protein.
  • Open-Face Tuna Melt – These quick and easy Open-faced Tuna Melts are made with cream cheese, no mayo, a little kick from the jalapenos and are the perfect last minute dinner or lunch. You can make them ahead and reheat, so they’re also perfect for the lunch bag!
  • Freakin’ Fast Sauteed Shrimp and Zucchini – This sautéed shrimp with zucchini showcases natural sweetness of shrimps and zucchini. It is a quick and easy one-pan meal for busy days.
  • Granola Crunch Apple-Peanut Butter Wraps – These crunchy Peanut Butter Sandwich Wraps come together in just moments and are completely adaptable – no need to measure exact amounts.
  • Easy Pizza Potato – The humble baked spud gets a makeover with this easy pizza potatoes recipe. Both meat and vegetarian meat options.

Did you see these tips for college students?

College Dinner Ideas Cookbooks

My friend, Corinne from Wondermom Wannabe, and I have sent 5 children to college and have 2 living on their own after college. We’ve created 4 College Cookbooks designed with recipes our own children use.

These cookbooks contain recipes that use basic, common ingredients and basic kitchen equipment. The recipes can be made in around 30 minutes at the most.

Each book provides 2 weeks worth of meals that feed 2. That’s a month’s worth of meals! There are 2 cook book bundles available on sale right now! The Vegetarian and Healthy Bowls Cook Book Bundle and the Ramen and Mac & Cheese Cook Book Bundle.

2 cookbook covers with orange and green circle that says "buy together and save"
2 cookbook covers with yellow and orange circle that says "buy together and save"

Pin now so that you can always find these more than 45 recipes for dinner ideas for college students whenever you’re hungry.

See all my tips, ideas, printables and care packages in the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.

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