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30 College Meal Prep Ideas Every Student Should Try

Effortlessly tackle college life with our meal prep guide: easy recipes and smart tips for healthy, budget-friendly eating on campus.

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Two glass containers with rice and veggies and two forks at the top left corner

College is the best time to take full advantage of all the opportunities to grow into the person you want to be.

Whether taking on extra classes, joining a club, or interning in your potential career, it is the time to fully work on yourself.

These healthy college meal prep ideas will help you focus on becoming yourself without the worry of eating unhealthy or spending a lot of money on food you might forget about. 

There are a variety of meals listed here that can be eaten throughout the year, and all of them made with simple ingredients.

Don’t be discouraged if you can’t make some of the recipes completely. These are made to be altered to the best of your ability!

1. Smoothie Bags

MeowMeix is a health-conscious influencer who demonstrates various healthy food swaps and meal ideas.

She has helped many college students realize that healthy eating is possible with just a few changes.

These smoothies are great and meal-prep friendly. Leave them in your freezer for rushed mornings and you’re set for the day!

Berry blast smoothie bag on the top left, tropical dream smoothie bag on the top right, green machine smoothie bag on the bottom left, chocolate cherry smoothie bag on the bottom right

2. Overnight Oats

Overnight oats are a popular breakfast meal prep food, and they can be very delicious.

CotterCrunch has an impressive one that is not limited to the mason jar, so small additions can make it even better if you are worried about not having a fulfilling breakfast.

I prefer it this way so I can start my day with a fruit or veggie.

2 glass containers, the left container with an egg, oats, a piece of orange and nut. The right container with oats and pieces of grapefruit

3. Egg Cups

Egg cups are a simple meal idea and last for a surprisingly long time. I’ve tried various ones myself and they haven’t disappointed me at all.

It all depends on what you put into it and what toppings, if any, you add to it as well.

You can even have this with an English muffin or as a side to your overnight oats. Let Show Me The Yummy help you prep!

a muffin pan with egg cups in it

4. Yogurt Parfaits

Yogurt parfaits are the best breakfast, dessert, or snack. If you need something sweet but want to stay on the healthy side, this is a great option.

Gathering Dreams has a great guide to choosing your fruits and granola, and which one’s pair best with each other.

Or you can get your favorite fruits and layer as you wish!

3 cups of yogurt with berries and coconut shavings on top

5. Vegan Hummus Sandwich

An easy way to eat healthy college meals is to prep vegan dishes.

This vegan hummus sandwich might not be an attainable college meal for everyone, but the best part about preparing your own vegan dishes is that you can put your more preferred veggies instead.

The Simple Veganista has a lot of great vegan recipes that are simple and easy to prep, even for college students.

2 sandwich halves stalked on top of each other with avocado, tomatoes, and greens

READY to prepare these DELICIOUS Meals?

You are going to need the following to get started! We suggest you bring these kitchen essentials to your college if you plan to cook in your dorm room. 


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Meal Prep Containers

An important part of planning your college meals is meal prepping!

The grocery list for college students is just one step to convenience if you really don’t want to spend your time making food.

Save one day for grocery shopping and meal prepping. These containers will help with that!

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6. Chicken Tacos

Lunch and dinner are easier to plan for, so you don’t have to be so picky about what you would want to eat. For instance, chicken tacos are so versatile and easy to meal prep.

Tasty has a whole website on easy recipes, and many dedicated to college meal preps.

Like a couple of recipes on this list, you can make a big batch of chicken and save it to add to whatever veggies or leftovers you already have. Convenient and budget-friendly!

2 chicken tacos with tomatoes and guacamole sitting on a white plate

7. Taco Bowl

Another use for big-batch protein is making your extra protein into a taco bowl, also convenient if you don’t have tortillas or lettuce for wraps.

Since this is a recipe for a taco bowl, the ingredients are set to reflect it, but if you are using a big batch protein, you can change it to your liking or budget.

Honestly, Sweet Peas and Saffron have become my go-to because they give a lot of alternatives!

4 glass containers with rice, corn, tomatoes, onions, a lime, and meat

8. Sun-dried Tomato Pasta

Hopefully, cheap ramen and unseasoned spaghetti are not all you end up eating in college. You can always upgrade this dish with uncomplicated swaps like choosing a pesto sauce instead of tomato.

This sun-dried tomato pasta with spinach by Little Broken is so simple and flavorful that you will never want to eat plain pasta again!

a plate of sun-dried tomato pasta

9. Sesame Noodle Bowl

My favorite meals in college are the ones that are filling but don’t take a lot of time. This sesame noodle bowl has become a great takeout replacement.

Edamame may be hard to find, so switch it out for peas if necessary. No guilty eating with Pinch of Yum’s recipe!

4 glass containers with noodles, edamame, avocado and meat

10. Black Bean and Corn Salad

Every once in a while, I see a vegan recipe that I wouldn’t mind incorporating into my weekly meal plan. This straightforward, no cook meal even works as a healthy lunch in between classes.

With this black bean and roasted corn salad, there’s no ingredient that is impossible to find! Simple Veganista has blessed us again.

a bowl of taco salad and a metal fork on a green napkin

11. Caprese Chicken Bowl

This Caprese chicken salad bowl by Sweet Pea and Saffron is honestly the best meal I have ever prepped in college. It is so tasty that I cannot live without it.

It is also a very healthy college meal, so I highly recommend it. The mozzarella is sometimes pricey if bought individually, so opt for some big packs.

I recommend prepping the night before instead of days in advance so that it is fresh. I usually swap the quinoa with lettuce or green beans, but it is amazing in every way!

2 glass containers with small tomatoes, rice, meat, and cheese

12. Cilantro Lime Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

Now I know seafood can be expensive for some college students, so don’t hesitate if you need to swap these cilantro lime shrimp lettuce wraps for ground beef or chicken.

You can use the same seasoning for any protein and make it your own. Lettuce wraps are the easiest meal prep you can achieve and will be one of the freshest every time.

The Recipe Critic shows us a very simple recipe that I am ready to make every day!

cooked shrimps on lettuce on a serving platter

13. Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

I Wash, You Dry has a great instant pot recipe for crispy pork carnitas. This is a great college meal plan recipe if you can make big batches for days to a week at a time.

Think Chipotle but without the added calories. Add this in a taco, burrito bowl or in a lettuce wrap, between buns or in a salad, and enjoy!

a pan with instant pot pork with limes on the top

14. Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Whether you grew up eating casseroles or not, Thriving Home will make you appreciate their versatility and time-saving recipes.

I love it because it is easy to add extra veggies or your favorite protein and it won’t ruin the dish.

Try to have a fresh addition to it, whether a side salad or some toppings like avocado or cheese to upgrade it after reheating. Casseroles are the ultimate college meal prep staple!

Chicken Parmesan Casserole in a clear dish with green leaves and bread crumbs on the top

15. Spinach and Beef Cannelloni

This method of stuffing pasta before cooking can take a bit of time, but it is so worth it at the end.

RecipeTin Eats has an easy recipe for spinach and beef cannelloni that can be made for days of prep! Think lasagna, but much tastier when reheated. There are also one-pot lasagna alternatives if you are really short on time.

Spinach and beef cannelloni on a plate with a metal fork

16. Cheesy Spinach Stuffed Shells

If you want something simpler, spinach and cheese stuffed shells can be frozen for days before cooking.

I recommend making as many as you can and freezing them in portioned-out containers. If you feel inspired to cook new things, try these stuffed shells with a different pasta sauce.

Use Kristine’s Kitchen recipe for a fulfilling meal!

Cheesy spinach stuffed shells with marinara sauce

17. Shrimp Fried Rice

Shrimp fried rice is a popular takeout food for college students and Damn Delicious has such a delectable recipe, it would be rude not to include this in your preparations.

This fried rice will still taste great when reheated, and adding more veggies can make it the ultimate meal. After having your personalized version, you won’t want to order out. Takeout who?

4 plastic containers with shrimp, fried rice, green beans, and peas

18. Vegetarian Chili Mac

If you are more interested in one-pot recipes, this vegetarian chili mac by Kristine’s Kitchen is a good one for any college student who preps their meals at the beginning of the day.

It is a slow cooker recipe, but there are plenty of others that are done in a much shorter time if that’s your preference.

a bowl of vegetarian chili mac in a white bowl

19. Make-Ahead Baked Taquitos

Every college student has stumbled into a 7/11 and ordered those taquitos without knowing what was in it. In order to avoid that mistake again, make your own! You will appreciate the flavor and versatility of these taquitos.

I love this very effortless meal by The Oven Light and its freezer compatibility. Have these as a meal prep or a party snack with fresh guacamole and tomatoes.

a plate of baked taquitos topped with guacamole and sour cream

20. Pesto Chicken Veggies

I love uncomplicated recipes and Tasty does an awesome job at helping college students recreate them. This recipe and cooking process is not even that difficult, so if you forget to meal prep, this can be a quick meal.

This pesto chicken and veggie recipe is one I find myself constantly going back to, and even changing up the veggies when I want to prep different meals!

4 plastic containers with chicken, green beans, and tomatoes

21. Honey Sriracha Crock Pot Chicken

Another excellent batch recipe, this time by Fit Foodie Finds, and it only needs five ingredients! Pair this honey sriracha chicken with rice, veggies, quinoa, or potatoes for dinner.

This chicken is also a great lunch in a salad or a quick sandwich. The possibilities are endless!

a hotpot of hot honey sriracha chicken

22. Honey Garlic Chicken

This is another big batch recipe, but not as big as previous ones, for college students with fewer storage options, or who simply may not have as much time to prep meals.

This one is by Diethood and you won’t be disappointed.

honey garlic chicken in a white bowl

23. Ground Turkey Stir Fry

Another takeout replacement, because we shouldn’t buy takeout every day, is this great ground turkey stir fry.

This is a great one-pan alternative as well and there’s nothing wrong with adding any extra veggies from other meal preps.

With The Girl on Bloor’s recipe, we will be eating low carb, fresh veggies, and guilt-free all through college!

4 containers with colorful ground turkey stir fry

24. Broccoli Stuffed Chicken

Cheesy broccoli stuffed chicken. Simple as that. Healthy Fitness Meals have made it easy to enjoy and endlessly appetizing.

This comfort food has been enhanced to be a healthier version, so you can eat this multiple times guilt-free.

Have some extra veggies to keep it low carb. Keep this recipe around for those days you forget to meal prep. It’s that easy!

2 broccoli stuffed chicken in a pan

25. Jerk Chicken and Gingered Broccoli

Half Baked Harvest has presented us with this very fresh and Caribbean-inspired meal. Make sure you have the spices needed for this one.

Also, keep in mind that alteratiofns are not a bad thing! If you can’t find an ingredient, in this case edamame, opt for another veggie like snap peas or green beans.

As long as your seasoning is consistent, it will be a fulfilling meal. You’ll be excited to try something new with this dish!

3 glass containers with jerk chicken and gingered broccoli next to a bowl of limes

26. Chicken Noodle Soup

Classic chicken noodle soup for those days where you work too hard and need some rest. Make sure you stock up for flu season! Eating Well has an easy recipe with very few ingredients.

You are going to love it because it is quick to prep. This effortless comfort food will become your favorite to recreate all year.

3 bowls of chicken noodle soup sitting on a wooden table

27. Black Bean Soup

Maybe you want a no-meat option of the soup. Tasty does a great job at creating recipes that use several plain and cheap ingredients to create a delightful soup.

There are many veggie options for those that want an easier soup to freeze. Top with a fresh veggie like avocado or even enjoy with some tortilla chips.

a bowl of black bean soup with avocado and cheese on top

28. Creamy Chicken Tortellini Soup

Or maybe you are like me and Chelsea’s Messy Apron and prefer creamy soups. This chicken tortellini soup is a little time-consuming, but so, so worth it in the end.

You can make this as a big batch soup and save it for the winter months.  Try it with some garlic bread if you have it!

two bowls of creamy chicken tortellini soup

29. Creamy Tomato Soup

Soups are uncomplicated and can be left in the freezer for days. Try this easy creamy tomato soup by The Recipe Rebel instead of opting for the can.

It tastes fresher, is easy to prep, and won’t cost you more than a fast-food meal. Don’t forget the grilled cheese!

plate with a small bowl of creamy tomato soup and two pieces of bread on it

30. Five Spice Beef Stew

Lastly, a hearty stew can get you through the week, especially during the colder months. They are easy to make and can last for a while, so plan accordingly.

The Cookie Rookie has a great, heavily seasoned recipe that is for sure to be the envy of your friends and roommates all through college. Add some toasted bread or sprinkle some cheese to improve the stew. Bon appetit!

3 bowls of spice beef stew, 3 spoons at bottom right corner of the image

(BONUS) Resources to Simplify Your College Meal Experience!! 

There are so many things that you have to worry about when it comes to preparing college meals that it can be overwhelming.

These tools have simplified my life TREMENDOUSLY, so I am sharing them with you. 


Let’s face it! When you are a college student, money is always scarce. That is why I HIGHLY recommend getting this grocery savings app.

No matter what you are buying or where you are buying it, if you start with Ibotta, you will receive REAL cashback.

You can use the cashback and rewards to shop at your local Grocery Store, Walmart, Target, Amazon, eBay, & More!

I have saved hundreds of dollars using Ibotta. The app is FREE, so it is really a no-brainer. Check it out here

2-$5 Meal Plan

One thing I realized really quickly in college is that time is ALWAYS limited.  I always feel that there are not enough hours in a day. Do you feel the same? 

Anyways, honestly speaking, sometimes, meal planning seems almost impossible because we are busy with a thousand other things. I started using the $5 Meal Plan when I was in my sophomore year of college.

My roommate recommended it to me and it has been life-changing. For just $5 a month, they will send you a delicious meal plan where every meal will cost about $2, and in most cases less.

I have saved so much money, time, and stress with this plan. You have no idea. I feel I have WAY more time now to focus on academics, college life, and S-L-E-E-P. 

The meals are delicious, healthy and VERY cheap.  I highly encourage everyone to check it out here




a college meal in a container that consists of tomatoes, avocado, quinoa and green veggies

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