60+ Cheap, Healthy Meals for Students (Meal Prep Ideas Included!)

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Easy, Healthy College Meals to Make in Your Apartment or Dorm Room

healthy easy college meal ideas - chia pudding

This is it. This is where your quest to find easy, healthy recipes for college students ends.


I’ve got a ton (and I do mean a TON) of ideas.

Really good ones, too. You’ll be pleased to find out that these ideas go well beyond your basic banana slices on a pb&j type of feel-good college foods.

Right here:

I rounded up over 60 cheap, healthy, and not to mention delicious, recipes into one ultimate post. It’ll help you cut down on search time so you can get right to meal time.

And no matter what your stomach is making the rumblies for:

There’s a low effort dish on this list that’ll be the solution to your craving.


In this post:


College goers come in all varieties and from all walks of life. Some choose to live off campus and some enjoy the community of living on campus.

Which is why:

I’ve included cheap healthy meals for college students living in apartments and dorms. 

I’ve also indicated which recipes are dorm room friendly. The fanciest thing needed to make them is just a good ol’ microwave.

Because as I’m sure you’re well aware –

Many students only have access to the cooking method known as “nuking it”.


It may come as a shock, but the definitive results are in – yes, you can prepare nutritious dishes with just a microwave. And not just the ready-made Lean Cusine type meals.

See for yourself in the video!

Video: how to make healthy meals in college with a microwave

And those are just three examples of what can be done.

I have a lot more easy microwave meals for college students down below.

But now, let’s talk a little bit about…


How to Eat Healthy in College

Healthy food is more expensive, right?


That’s what a large chunk of society is lead to believe, but it’s actually just a myth.

Yes, organic foods do often come with a premium price tag. But no – you don’t need to buy the organic, non-GMO, fair trade certified, etc. foodstuff to maintain a healthy diet.

So, how do you eat healthy on a budget?

Think about it:

Crackers, heat & eat meals, chips, candy, and other snacks tend to be the most expensive stuff are the store. It’s because they’re convenience foods.

They save you time and effort to bring you quicker hunger satiating satisfaction. Those benefits come at a price, though.


On a per item basis, they don’t seem that pricey. But $3.50 for a box of crackers here, $3.99 for a bag of fries there, plus $5.29 for a 12 pack of cola…

Well, it adds up quickly! Living heavily off of packaged foods is the quickest and easiest way to burn through your college food budget.

What to do instead –

Learning how to eat healthy on a budget is a straightforward concept. Simply narrow down your grocery list to include more (or ideally – just) whole foods like vegetables, fruits, protein sources & grains.

Produce is relatively inexpensive, but you can further reduce your expenses by buying only what you know you’ll consume before it goes bad. Or, opt for longer lasting frozen veggies and fruit.

When you do this, it becomes realistic and affordable to feed yourself good shit as a student.

You’ll need to be a little more creative and spend more time cooking, but it is a 100% attainable goal for even busy college students to eat healthy. Especially when meal prepping is utilized.


How to start eating right

Often times, just the act of starting something new can be the hardest part.

This where an article with more guidance can be helpful.

So I’ve included some informative ones below…

A healthy diet with on just $20 a week

Frugal Farm Girl shares how you can do it.

Straight from the source

In this guide, Sarah from The Olden Chapters shares how all the details about how she eats healthy in college on a budget.

Feeding yourself with a meal plan at college?

Life et Moi by Sofia has tips that’ll help you eat right at the dining hall.

And if you aren’t…

Samathability has you covered with tips on how to survive without a meal plan.


Another good place to start

– is with my guide to eating healthy in college on a budget. In the post, I’ve simplified it by breaking it down into 10 actionable steps.


College Meal Prep

Meal prepping has some great benefits.

For one, if you’re short on time to spend making food during the week (like most college kids) it makes sense to meal prep.


Having healthy food readily available makes it so much easier to resist the temptation of junk food. I know that when I’m busy, I honestly just eat what whatever’s the quickest thing for me to grab.


Meal prepping in college can be a useful tool for budgeting.

Planning meals means you already know what items are going to be on your grocery list. And less winging it style grocery shopping also means fewer impulse buys.

Like most life changes, transitioning to a college meal prep lifestyle can be rocky at first.

But, overall:

Once you’re in the swing of things, it actually gives you one less thing to worry about. Simplifying your life is a fantastic way to reduce stress, too!


Cheap Meal Prep Ideas for Students

So –

If you’re interested in giving meal prepping a shot, here are two places that can help you get started:

1. BudgetBytes.com

Budget Bytes is run by food blogger, Beth, and she has over 1000 deliciously affordable recipes to choose from. I love how she breaks down the costs of each meal!

Her goal is to help satisfy both your taste buds and your wallet. She even has over 30 meal plan specific recipes.

A few meal prep idea favorites from Budget Bytes:


2. CollegeNutritionist.com

The College Nutritionist has a ton of college meal prep recipes and tips. Rachel provides weekly plans based on specific calorie goals, which is super useful if you’re trying to lose weight.

Her meals are creative, healthy and keep a college budget in mind. I recommend checking out her blog for ideas.

Some of my favorite meal prep recipes from The College Nutritionist:


3. Video: meal prepping in college (no oven – microwave only)


4. Some more useful online resources:


Healthy Recipes for College Students

Now let’s get to the recipes ideas!

I have a list of 60+ cheap, yummy, and healthy meals for college students. There are suggestions for college students living in apartments and dorms.

To make it easy:

I’ve sorted the recipes to show which ones can specifically be made in a dorm and which are better for apartment dwellers.

For the meals that are dorm conducive – it’s assumed a microwave and a mini-fridge are the only accessible appliances.


Easy, Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Students

Here are some college-friendly recipes to try for breakfast.

Starting with –

Healthy Dorm Meals

Microwave Egg And Vegetable Breakfast Sandwich

healthy meals for students - breakfast sandwich
Via FoodieCrush.com

Yum! How good does that sandwich look??

Hard to believe it’s made with just a microwave!

→ Make this recipe.


2 Minute Omelette in a Mug

healthy college meals - mug omelette
Via DashingDish.com

Eggs are a cheap source of protein and an easy healthy meal for college students to make in a flash.

→ Get this recipe.


Microwave Breakfast Scramble

healthy meals for college students - microwave scramble
Via BudgetBytes.com

There’s more than one way to skin a cat and there are a dozen different ways to cook an egg.

This egg scramble is easy to prepare ahead of time for the whole week.

→ Try this breakfast recipe.


Espresso Protein Shake

cheap healthy college meals
Via @therippedbarbie on Instagram

Here’s a super simple breakfast that’s perfect for mornings when you have to really RUSH –

Mix a protein shake with an espresso shot in a Venti cup, shake it up and call it good!

The “recipe” can be made with your protein shake of choice, but these caramel ones mix particularly well.

→ Get more details on this recipe.


Peanut Butter Overnight Oats

easy healthy meals for college students - pb overnight oats
Via MinimalistBaker.com

Overnight oats make life so much easier for everyone!

And this delicious take deserves to be added to your repertoire of easy, healthy college meals.

→ Try this recipe.

Overnight Oats 7 Ways

easy healthy recipes for college students - overnight oats
Via AnotherRoot.com

And because overnight oats are so easy to whip up –

I thought you should know 7 more ways to make them.

→ Check out all the variations on this recipe.

Raspberry Apple Microwave Mug Oatmeal

easy microwave meals for college students - baked oatmeal
Via KimsCravings.com

If you prefer your oats to be hot instead of chilled, this idea should be right up your alley.

→ Make this breakfast recipe.

Chai Latte Chia Pudding

easy healthy college meals - chai chia pudding
Via ChoosingChia.com

This simple breakfast is perfect for Chai fans!

→ Try this recipe in a college dorm.

Matcha Chia Pudding

healthy cheap food for college students - matcha chia pudding
Via EmilieEats.com

I didn’t forget about Matcha fans, either!

→ Make this recipe.

The Best Microwave Bacon

healthy meals for college students - microwave bacon
Via CreekLineHouse.com

There’s no need to fear bacon when you’re eating healthy! It can definitely have a place in a well-rounded diet.

→ Get this microwave recipe.


Microwave Egg Caprese Breakfast Cups

healthy recipes for college students - microwave caprese cups
Via FoodieCrush.com

Having a caprese cup for breakfast is sure to impress your roommate and friends.

You’ll look like a real chef while only needing to put in 10% of the effort.

→ Try this easy recipe.


Ideas that are Better for Apartments

These healthy meals for students require the use of a blender, food processor or oven.

Unless of course, you have a more creative way to get around that!

Breakfast Sweet Potat-“Oats”

healthy recipes for college students - sweet potato oats
Via LittleBitesOf.com

It turns out that sweet potatoes and oats go together!

This is a combination you’ll have to try for yourself to make a final verdict, though. 

→ Make this savory breakfast recipe.


Strawberry/Peach/Pineapple/Mango Smoothie

60+ Cheap, Healthy Meals for Students (Meal Prep Ideas Included!) 3
Via @kennedipennel on Instagram

Easy breakfasts don’t get any more low effort than a smoothie.

It’s easy to create and thankfully it’s massively delicious, too. 

→ Try this quick recipe.


Pina Colada Smoothie

cheap healthy meals for college students in apartments - smoothie

There are some days in college where you wish you were on a beach far away from all the homework, tests and group projects.

Unfortunately, a pina colada smoothie can’t teleport you there but it can help take your mind off things for a bit.

→ Recipe source.


Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

healthy meals for students - breakfast cookies
Via ChocolateCoveredKatie.com

I’ll take cookies for breakfast any day of the week! 

And these ones are miles better for me than a box of devilishly good Samoas.

→ Make this recipe.


Healthy 2-Ingredient Breakfast Cookies

healthy college meals - 2 ingredient breakfast cookies
Via CafeDelites.com

Bet you weren’t expecting to find chocolate chip cookies on this list of easy healthy meals for college students.

But, here we are and is it great!

→ Get the recipe.


Fruit Smoothie Popsicles

healthy recipes for a college student
Via LemonTreeDwelling.com

Real fruit popsicles, like a smoothie, are even more portable.

Plus, they are especially tasty on a warm day.

→ Try this college recipe.

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Healthy Lunch Ideas for College

Healthy recipes for a college student who has enough boring sandwiches and wants a lunchtime upgrade.

And all on the cheap, of course.


Easy Dorm Meals

Healthy Layered Tuna Salad Jar

cheap healthy college meals - tuna salad in a jar
Via TheViewFromGreatIsland.com

This is one of the fanciest looking tuna salads I’ve ever seen, but it only looks like it took a while to make.

It calls for the fancy, expensive tuna which honestly tastes amazing. However, you can easily swap it out for another brand of tuna.

→ Make this recipe.


Deli Snack Box

lunches for college - deli snack box
Via DamnDelicious.net

A deli snack box is simple, yet it hits the spot every time. I love this idea!

→ Get this lunchtime recipe.


Egg and Avocado Egg Wrap

college lunch ideas - egg wrap
Via AHealthyLifeForMe.com

Avocados and bacon are a match made in heaven.

→ Make this recipe.


Southwest Hummus Wraps

easy healthy meals for college students - southwest wraps
Via Chef-in-Training.com

There are so many good things in these wraps!

→ Get this college lunch recipe.


Coffee Cup Chilaquiles

easy healthy recipes - Coffee Cup Chilaquiles
Via stltoday.com

Coffee cup chilaquiles definitely break up the monotony of typical dorm meals.

→ Try this recipe.


Recipes for Students in Apartments

The healthy recipes to try below will work out better for students who have a stove to cook with.

Taco Salad in a Jar

easy healthy college meals - taco salad in a jar
Via PocketChangeGourmet.com

These jar lunch ideas are uber convenient to make ahead of time. Just grab and go when it’s time to head out in the morning. 

→ Get this cheap lunch recipe.


Buffalo Chicken Jar Salad

healthy cheap food for college - buffalo chicken salad jar
Via JuliesEatsandTreats.com

→ Try this recipe.


Peanut Noodle Salad in a Jar

60+ Cheap, Healthy Meals for Students (Meal Prep Ideas Included!) 4
Via EatingBirdFood.com

→ Pick this great recipe for lunch this week.


Thai Salad in a Jar

easy college recipes - thai salad jar
Via WhatShouldIMakeFor.com

Which jar salad option is looking the best to you right now?

→ Make this recipe.


Southwestern Black Bean Couscous Salad

Via FitFoodieFinds.com

Not all salad need to include lettuce! 

→ Try this salad recipe.


Vegetarian Mason Jar Burrito Bowls

Via SheLikesFood.com

→ Get this recipe.


Quick and Easy Chicken Burritos

lunch food for college students - chicken burritos
Via GimmeDelicious.com

They look really good and they’re really easy to make. Win-win!

→ Make this recipe for lunch.


Healthy Snack Ideas for College Students

We all like to snack and there’s nothing wrong with that!


The snacks you choose to eat matter. Snacking on fresh veggies instead of something sugary is going to support your health.

If you want ideas that require no-prep work:

Hop on over to this big list of healthy college snacks. It’s got all the best ideas.

Now if you feel like doing some cooking of sorts, here are some college snacks recipes.


Healthy Dorm Snacks

Sriracha Nooch Popcorn

dorm snacks recipes - sriracha popcorn
Via BudgetBytes.com

You can make this recipe with popcorn kernels with just a microwave, too!

→ Try this recipe.


Microwave Kale Chips

snacks for college healthy - microwave kale ships
Via BiggerBolderBaking.com

Want something crunchy but still need to get your greens in?

That’s where kale chips come in!

→ Make this easy recipe.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Apple Bites

healthy snacks for college students - apple granola wedges
Via TheComfortofCooking.com

Sometimes when its snack time, your sweet tooth is calling.

This yummy apple bites will hit the spot without being just empty calories.

→ Try this college snack recipe.


No Bake Oatmeal Energy Bites

healthy snacks busy student - energy bites
Via WellPlated.com

Energy bites are a deliciously easy way to fuel your body on the go.

→ Make this quick snack recipe.


Microwave Sour Cream & Onion Veggie Chips

cheap college snack - microwave veggie chips
Via SprinkleSomeFun.com

Veggie chips are similar to potato chips but without any guilt.

Save at the store by making your own!

→ Try this recipe.


College Apartment Snacks

A freezer is needed for this last college snack idea.

Frozen Banana Bites

healthy college snacks - frozen banana bites
Via NoBiggie.net

Most mini fridges don’t have a separate freezer section which is why I designated this as better for apartment dwellers.


If you DO have a mini fridge with a freezer, I don’t see why you couldn’t make these!

→ Make this recipe.

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Healthy College Dinner Ideas

Healthy meals for students that will help you get your grub fast on when it’s midnight, you’re starving and you just need something to eat.


Microwave College Meals for Dorms

Single-Serve Microwave Shakshuka

college dinner ideas - microwave shakshuka
Via TheKitchn.com

Poached egg in tomato sauce = yes, give me that!

→ Try this recipe.


Microwave Spanish Rice

healthy meals for students - spanish rice
Via TheKitchn.com

Rice is the ultimate cheap staple to keep your college pantry.

→ Make this recipe.


Parm Herb Microwave Spaghetti Squash

easy microwave college food - spaghetti squash
Via JoyfulHealthyEats.com

Add some sauce and you’ve got a low carb version of actual spaghetti. 

→ Make this microwave recipe.


Microwave Pita Pizza

cheap college food - pita pizza
Via Small Kitchen College

Yep, you can still have pizza while eating right!

Lower calorie versions that have a thinner crust and include more veggies are a great choice.

→ Try this yummy recipe.


How to Make Microwave Baked Potatoes

healthy recipes for students - microwave baked potato
Via EatingonaDime.com

Potatoes are so cheap and so filling. They even have some good nutrients for you, too.

→ Use this simple recipe.


Loaded Baked Potato Soup In A Mug

easy healthy meals - potato soup mug
Via BiggerBolderBaking.com

Soup can sound really good sometimes. And this healthy college meal is a whole lot quicker to make than a whole pot of soup.

→ Make this recipe.


Healthy Microwave Nachos

healthy college recipe - microwave nachos
Via Tablespoon.com

→ Make this college recipe.


Lemon Garlic Broccoli

healthy food for a college student - broccoli
Via StepAwayFromtheCarbs.com

→ Try this recipe.


Mediterranean Microwave Fish

Maybe don’t make this in your room if you don’t want it to smell like fish for a week.

But hey it’s your life and if you want fish, you want fish.

→ Get the written recipe.


Meatloaf in a Mug

easy microwave meals for college student - meatloaf
Via TasteofHome.com

Classic comfort food in one low calorie, single-size serving. 

→ Make this microwave recipe.


Healthy Microwave Mac n’ Cheese

Via MadebyMonique.com

How is mac n cheese healthy??

We all need to live a little sometimes! Just practice portion control (which is easy with this mug meal) and you’ll be just fine.

→ Try this mug recipe.


Microwave Mushroom Risotto

healthy recipes college students - mushroom risotto
Via foodnetwork.com

→ Make this healthy college meal recipe.


Easy Healthy Chicken Salad

college dinner ideas - healthy chicken salad
Via Kristine’s Kitchen

A different twist on the classic chicken salad. It can easily be made with a shredded rotisserie chicken which should make enough for more than a couple of meals.

→ Try this recipe.


College Apartment Recipes

You’re gonna want an oven to be able to make these college foods.

Zucchini Lasagna

easy healthy meals for college students - zucchini lasagna
Via Live Well Kitchen

All the cheesy goodness of regular lasagna but with a lot fewer calories.

→ Make this healthy recipe.


Easy Zucchini Pizza Bites

dinner ideas for college students - zucchini bites
Via iheartvegetables.com

→ Try this recipe.


Broccoli and Cheddar Twice-Baked Potatoes

easy cheap healthy dinner - twice baked broccoli cheddar
Via BakerbyNature.com

→ Make this college dinner recipe.


Ultimate BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

dinner meals college - bbq chicken quesadillas
Via BudgetBytes.com

These look AMAZING – enough said.

→ Try this delicious recipe.


Easy, Healthy Desserts (No Bake)

And now for my favorite types recipes:

The super easy, yet still healthy desserts!


Quick & Easy Dorm Desserts

PB&J Mug Cake

microwave mug dessert - pb&j cake
Via kitchensanctuary.com

Peanut butter and jelly just got an upgrade thanks to this mug cake creation.

→ Make this recipe.

4-Ingredient Mug Cake

college dessert ideas - mug cake
Via The College Nutritionist

Minimal ingredients still combine together for yummy result!

→ Try this simple dessert recipe.


Skinny Single-Serving Microwave Brownie

healthy microwave dessert - skinny brownie
Via AmysHealthyBaking.com

It should be a sin for something to taste this good yet still be healthy!

→ Indulge yourself with this recipe.


Healthier Peanut Butter Dip

recipes for college kids - peanut butter dip
Via ItsYummi.com

A recipe that is great for dipping apples in and it’s nice to share with friends.

→ Make this recipe.


Microwave Apples in a Bag

cheap college meals - apples in a bag
Via SaladinaJar.com

Apple pie filling in a bag. Honestly, this stuff looks addictively good.

→ Try this microwave recipe.


Healthy Chocolate Microwave Muffin

dessert for one college - microwave muffin
Via DessertsWithBenefits.com

This is a good little something sweet to have when a chocolate craving strikes.

→ Give this healthy dessert recipe a shot.


Apartment-Friendly College Desserts

These last few healthy ideas need a freezer to make them work.

3-Ingredient Blueberry Yogurt Bites

Simple, yet just sweet enough.

→ See the written recipe.


Chocolate Banana Frozen Yogurt Bark

healthy college meals - banana yogurt bark
Via MyFussyEater.com

I think chocolate and bananas just go together.

→ Try this recipe.

Super Easy Frozen Yogurt Bark

cheap healthy recipes for college student - frozen yogurt bark
Via iwashyoudry.com

There are a few different variations for this quick dessert.

→ Make this easy recipe.


Wow, that sure was a LOT of healthy meal ideas! I hope this list helped you decide on what to eat.


Which healthy college meal are you going to try first?



healthy cheap food college students - pin it for later

Feed yourself for cheap with college-friendly recipes you can make in 10 minutes or less. Delicious and healthy foods for every type of student craving. #college #collegelife #dinner #healthy #healthyfood #healthymeals #healthyrecipes #easyrecipes #collegefood #snacks #breakfast #easymeals #cheapfood #cheapmeals #dorm #dormroom #student

60+ Cheap & Healthy Meals for Students (Meal Prep Ideas Included!)

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