Back To School: College Food Ideas

It is Back to School time, for me that means I get to go back to work, for my sister that means she is off to her last year of college. She will head back to Vassar in New York, this year is different though, she will not be living in dorms and will have a smaller meal plan, that means she and her roommates will have to cook for themselves. A slightly complicated task when none of them have really cooked much for themselves. So I figured I would help out some and list some simple easy and cheap meals that they can make.

Two Cheap and Useful Ingredients to have

top two ingredients

  • Rice
    •  is a wonderful ingredient to always have. Brown rice is healthy and can be used in so many ways.
    • It can be added to ground beef to stretch out the meat for tacos, nachos, or burritos.
    • Add in chicken, frozen veggies, soy sauce, spices and you have a great stir fry.
    • Use as a side to most any dish to stretch it and make it more filling.
  • Ramen
    • Everyone knows that ramen noodles are cheap and delicious as they are. But if you take just a little bit of effort you can make them even better and add some variety to your menu.
    • There are a lot of different recipes that use ramen noodles and mix in chicken, vegetables, beef, sauces and seasoning
    • Some of my favorite ideas come from No Biggie

 Ingredients to Keep on Hand to Make Easy Dishes

  • Rice
  • Ramen noodles
  • Canned Beans
  • Pasta
  • Frozen Veggies
  • Of course, a good variety of spices is important as well, find a guide to Basic Spices is here.
  • Fresh Foods
  • Chicken breast or thighs buy in a large pack at 1.99-2.50 a pound for the best price. Freeze and use as needed.
  • Cheese- cheese sticks, Babybel rounds, Laughing cow cheese
  • Fruit, frozen to keep longer and good for smoothies
  • Eggs

 Meal ideas that are simple and require few ingredients:

meal ideas


  • Smoothies
  • Cereal
  • Peanut butter and fruit
  • Yogurt and berries or granola.
  • Egg muffins


  • Soup, Progresso light soups are filling and have good nutrients.
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Wraps
  • Salad


  • Pasta Bakes
  • Taco Bowls
  • Nacho plates
  • Stir fry
  • Casseroles- great for having left-overs that you can eat on the rest of the week or for lunches.
  • Salad

Here are some good one person meals from Greatist, that look great for dorm cooking.