Low-Key Meal Prep Ideas for College Students

There’s no doubt about it: college students are busy.

Between waking up before the sun to make it to your first class, juggling homework and extracurriculars, and trying to have a social life on the side, cooking for yourself or prepping easy meals can quickly get pushed to the back burner. Not only that, but most college campuses these days have a wonderful assortment of coffee shops and cafes that make it easy to drop $15 on one meal. BiteSquad and DoorDash are all well and good, but you can’t deny that after the tipping fee and taxes, meal prices can get a little out of hand.

Enter….(drumroll please)…meal prepping! While some may shy away from meal prepping because it seems to involve eating the same thing everyday, the flip side of the whole deal is that you can save a whole lot of money by making a plan ahead of time about what you’re going to eat instead of following your hungry and wayward stomach. Another plus is that there are certain meals you can prep that will enable you to mix things up a bit and add in new flavors regularly. That way, you won’t get bored out of your mind eating the same exact thing every single day.

If you’re looking for a few easy meal prep ideas, you can sit back and relax because we’ve put together a list to make things easier for you. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, so don’t be afraid to ask around for ideas or scroll Pinterest for a half hour and save some easy ideas.

1. Oats

If you’re living in a dorm room that doesn’t allow you easy access to a stove, making food that allows you to use alternative methods like a microwave or an electric kettle is key—and you really can’t go wrong with oats.

For a hearty breakfast that you can easily switch up regularly, buy a bag of steel cut oats, pour some in your bowl, add a bit of water, and stick it in the microwave or use heated water from an electric kettle. It’s safe to say that this has to be one of the easiest meals you can possibly make in a dorm room. What’s great about eating oatmeal for breakfast is your opportunity to get creative with toppings.

Try berries and a bit of cream one day, a spoonful of peanut butter and pecans another day, or sprinkle in toasted coconut or granola and a bit of maple syrup. If your stuck figuring out some new topping ideas, just google your query, and you’ll find what you’re looking for.

2. Soup

It’s easy to think about soup as a winter-only delicacy, but depending on the flavor and construction of the soup, you really can eat it all year ’round. Nothing is so comforting as creamy wild rice or warm, spicy chili on a cold, winter day, and summer soups can have citrus flavors or can even be served cold depending on the type!

Make your soups from scratch in one big batch, and freeze the extra amounts, or simply buy the canned versions (although, we all know those won’t be quite as good as the homemade stuff). The great thing about soup is that you can regularly change flavors and types and the possibilities are truly endless for the types of soups you can make. Add interesting sides like soft, sourdough bread or some grilled cheese, and you have some very easy, make-ahead meals at your fingertips.

3. Tacos

An obvious party pleaser and a super versatile, easy-to-put-together option. Not only are tacos great for the every-day dinner, but they are really great prep options if you’re the type who has friends over for dinner on a regular basis. What makes them such an uncomplicated option is that you can simply assign each of your guests a different ingredient. One person can cook the meat, someone else can bring cheese and cut up some tomatoes, and still another can bring tortillas and hard shells.

They’re also a handy option if you’re looking to adapt your recipe regularly because tacos exist in so many forms. If you’re in the midst of wintry conditions and want to be reminded of the beach, switch things up and make fish tacos with some pineapple-mango salsa. You could also try breakfast tacos with eggs and sausage if you want to get creative some Saturday morning.