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How to Cook Easy, Quick and Cheap Recipes for Students

Updated: Jan 15

Easy and Cheap Student Recipes for Healthy Living

A student life is usually synonymous with being broke, or at least on a tight budget, together with being time-poor and uninspired when it comes to food!  We get it - time and money are precious commodities. As a student, you may also be cooking for yourself for the first time. So recipes that are easy, quick and cheap to make are the answer to every student’s prayers.

In this blog, we’ll show you how to organize yourself to create a repertoire of cheap, easy and healthy recipes that can be adapted for all students.

We will also give you some smart shopping tips to keep your wallet happy, store your food correctly, and stay on budget.

A chef garnishing a pasta dish

Batch Cooking on a Budget

Before diving into the kitchen cupboards, we first need to identify the most important basic ingredients. These can be adapted and used in several different recipes to save both your budget and cooking time.

I'm a huge fan of batch cooking. Have you tried it yet?

Essential Ingredients for Cooking Easy and Cheap Recipes on a Student Budget

There are certain cheap and versatile staples that you should keep in stock or buy regularly for quick and easy student recipes.

These are usually non-perishable items with a longer shelf life that can be used as the basis for quick and easy recipes.

Such staple foods include:

  • Pasta  - any shapes and sizes, including penne, spaghetti, macaroni.

  • Quinoa, Couscous or barley – as a healthy carbohydrate alternative.

  • Tinned tomatoes

  • Pasta sauce

  • Rice

  • Flour

  • Bread

  • Salt and Pepper

  • Herbs and Spices

  • Stock cubes

  • Vegetable oil


A cupboard full of labelled jars of herbs and spices

How to Store Fresh Produce and When to Use Frozen

As a general rule, although it is traditional to put all the fruit together in a fruit bowl, fruit and vegetables should be stored as you would find them in a supermarket.

Apart from the fact that your fruit is likely to be pinched by housemates if you leave it on the counter, the ethylene gas emitted by some fruit can speed up the ripening process, making it ripen and spoil quickly. Hence wasting money!

You may therefore wish to keep some of your fruit and veg in your fridge for a longer shelf life.

Some vegetables, such as potatoes, onions and garlic, need to be stored in a dry, dark place, such as a cupboard or drawer.

When Frozen Foods are Better

When it comes to cooking on a budget, using fresh produce is both time-consuming in terms of schlepping to the supermarket, and likely to be more expensive. 

The most affordable option is to keep staples in stock like frozen vegetables, oven chips, and even sliced bread (which can easily be defrosted or toasted, taking out one or two slices at a time).

Packs of frozen vegetables such as chopped onions, carrots, peas, and broccoli can be stocked and used for a variety of different meals. This means very little preparation needed to cook, and they are generally budget-friendly and convenient in terms of time and storage space.


Recipe Ideas and Meal Preparation

As part of our Member Resources bundles (Ultimate Bundle and Uni Companion), we have created recipe books that contain the best recipes especially for students who have zero cooking skills!

Book cover image of Easy Meals for Uni Students with Zero cooking skills

With a range that covers every meal-time: breakfast, lunch, dinner and healthy snacks, we have created a collection of healthy and delicious recipes that will satisfy both your budget and your stomach, as well as your cooking skills!

We've even included some meal prep tips to help you save time and money throughout the week.

In addition, we have created a unique meal planner to guide you in creating nutritious student meals for a week at a time. Plus we created an exclusive shopping list to help students shop for food in the smartest way possible.

Check out the Student Food Ideas on our Free Resources tab for direct links to recipes.

Key Takeaways

Eating quick, cheap, easy and – dare I say it? - healthily student recipes on a budget isn't just a dream - it's your new reality.

Every student I know goes off to university not knowing how to feed themselves and comes back having learnt a few dishes that will impress even the most demanding parents!

So, mastering the art of budget-friendly cooking and meal preparation are two more skills you will pick up at university – embrace the challenge!

All these tips and more are included in the award-winning guide “From High School to Uni”.


Front cover of book From High School to Uni, available on all online bookstores


For more information on student life, head over to our FAQs.

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