Cooking as a student isn't always easy so I created this list of Easy College Meals to help you get started. This plant-based resource is especially useful if you want to incorporate more vegan and vegetarian foods into your lifestyle.
This week has been really exciting because my first book, The College Vegetarian Cookbook, was just released!
To celebrate, I'm sharing the best college-friendly dishes published on Grateful Grazer over the years. I used some of these meals as inspiration when I was developing recipes for my book. There are a few new creations and many are tried-and-true favorites!
What Makes a Recipe College-Friendly?
- Quick - lots of these recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less
- Easy - created with beginners in mind
- Budget-friendly - minimal ingredients, plus creative food waste solutions
- Made for small spaces - Most recipes don't require specialty appliances (a small blender/food processor is nice to have for a few of these!)
- Simple ingredients - I find everything at my local, small-town grocery store
- Emphasis on make-ahead and one-pot meals for a busy lifestyle
If you're in school right now, I hope these meals will help keep you going.
Start your day off right (without spending hours in the kitchen). Here are a few of my favorite easy vegan and vegetarian breakfast recipes.
A thick and creamy Energizing Matcha Smoothie is exactly what you need for a little pick-me-up this afternoon! Blended mango, spinach, chia seeds, and green tea provide an energy boost with a kick of fruity flavor.
Treat yourself to a strawberry yogurt parfait is layered with fresh berries, dairy-free yogurt, and crunchy chocolate chia seed granola. Swap in store-bought granola to make this dorm-friendly!
Tough week ahead? Do your future self a favor and prep these Blackberry Overnight Oats for a satisfying start to the day.
Vegan Lemon Oatmeal is a quick and easy hot breakfast with sweet and tart flavors from citrus fruit. Add toasted nuts and coconut flakes for extra texture.
Skip the coffee shop and make a cozy, Spiced Oat Milk Latte infused with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ginger. (You can also skip the spices and use any type of milk on hand if you want to keep this really simple!)
Wake up to a savory Black Bean Breakfast Burrito Bowl filled with hearty grains, Mexican-inspired sweet potatoes, protein-rich black beans, and a tangy cilantro-lime yogurt sauce.
Mushroom Bean Avocado Toast is a convenient option for savory-breakfast lovers. Top off your toast with white beans for extra plant-based protein!
Who wouldn’t love a stack of spiced Pumpkin Oat Pancakes piled high with yogurt and fresh fruit? This is a convenient way to use extra canned pumpkin when you have it on hand.
Lunch and Dinner Recipes
Soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, tacos, and quesadillas. Going meatless doesn't mean you have to miss out on your favorite foods.
This easy Carrot and Lentil Soup features a cozy blend of warming spices (lots of garlic and ginger!), along with rich and creamy coconut milk for added texture. Bolstered by protein and fiber-rich red lentils, this naturally vegan bowl is hearty (and nutritious) enough to serve as a complete meal all on its own.
Looking for a new summertime sandwich recipe? Try easy Tomato Mozzarella Sandwiches with Blueberry Balsamic Reduction. (Substitute blueberry preserves for the balsamic and there's no cooking required!)
Watermelon Poke Bowls make a delicious vegan alternative to the original seafood-based dish. This Hawaiian-inspired bowl recipe is made with marinated watermelon cubes, steamed edamame, avocado, and nori (a type of seaweed) with rice. Make it up to two days in advance with just 10 minutes of prep work!
This 20-Minute Easy Pearl Couscous with Chickpeas (also called Israeli Couscous here in the U.S.) comes together with just one pot and minimal ingredients. Prep this round-shaped pasta ahead of time and eat it up for lunch, dinner, or as a side dish.
Say hello to your new favorite no-cook lunch for spring and summer! Vegan Strawberry Avocado Hemp Salad with fresh basil and nutrient-packed hemp hearts.
This Vegetarian Quesadilla with Avocado Crema is equally ideal for a quick weekday meal or any day of the week. Don’t miss the zesty avocado-lime sauce for dipping!
Get back to cooking basics with this simple yet comforting recipe for One-Pot Butter Beans and Greens with fiber and protein-rich lima beans, hearty kale, and lots of flavorful spices.
Mushrooms and protein-rich yellow split peas are simmered in a spicy, Indian-inspired broth flavored with garlic, ginger, turmeric, and coriander. This ultra-comforting One-Pot Yellow Split Pea Soup is a make-ahead recipe to get you through the winter months.
Make this vibrantly spiced Vegan Turmeric Soup in one pot and store it in the freezer for up to six months.
Chickpeas and seasonal vegetables are roasted and drizzled with a sweet and tangy sauce in this vegan Chickpea Sheet Pan Dinner with Maple Mustard Vinaigrette.
Want to get the most out of your grocery budget? This Low-Waste Broccoli Stem Stir-Fry is a low-cost recipe that utilizes both the stems and florets of the broccoli plant. Serve with rice and tofu for a complete meal.
This Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Chickpeas and Lemon Tahini is ideal for busy weeknights when you only have about 30 minutes to get dinner on the table. Sautéed sprouts with coriander roasted chickpeas and creamy lemon tahini, plus a handful of sunflower seeds and dried cherries (or cranberries) for entree-worthy flavor and texture.
Spinach Cacio e Pepe is kind of like a grown-up version of Mac and Cheese! This non-traditional version is made with bucatini noodles, spinach, and green peas coated in pecorino romano cheese and freshly cracked black pepper for extra veggies and beneficial nutrients.
Protein-packed soybeans are tossed with crunchy vegetables and spicy peanut dressing in this Easy Edamame Crunch Salad, which is packable and ideal for meal prep.
Even when you're short on time, you can still make these 15-Minute Easy Peanut Noodles quicker than you can pick up takeout. Feel free to use whatever fresh or frozen produce is already in your kitchen.
30-minute Easy Tempeh Burrito Bowls feature one of my favorite plant-based ingredients: tempeh! Tempeh is a type of fermented soy food, and it works great as a substitute for the ground beef in plant-based taco "meat."
This packable, Moroccan-spiced Chickpea Mason Jar Salad is a great option if you want to pack up your lunch and take it to class with you. Feel free to swap in your favorite seasoning blend if Moroccan spices aren't available in your area.
Dinner has never been easier than 7-ingredient BBQ Tempeh Loaded Sweet Potatoes with sweet corn and broccoli. You could make these with beans or lentils instead of tempeh, too!
Use any vegetables you have on hand to make this easy Anything Goes Veggie Fried Rice recipe. Swap in seasonal vegetables (or whatever you need to use up before it goes bad) to make a flavorful plant-based meal at any time of year.
Vegan Cranberry Chickpea Salad Sandwiches are easy to make and totally packable, too. Canned chickpeas make this recipe quick and easy to prepare.
This conveniently vegan Favorite Sweet Potato Hummus Sandwich is perfect for transporting to school or prepping for road trips and weekend picnics. Made with only 7 ingredients!
Root veggies are budget-friendly, hearty, and satisfying. For a crowd-pleasing vegetarian dinner, try Roasted Root Vegetable Tacos with Sunflower Seed Queso sauce.
This Make-Ahead Cranberry Orange Kale Salad won’t wilt or get soggy. Toss one together for a communal dinner or prep a few portions for easy weekday lunches and dinners.
Easy Snacks, Sides, and Desserts for College Students
For everything in between. Easy plant-based snacks, sides, and desserts to keep you satisfied.
This Easy Vegan Strawberry Milkshake is made with just two ingredients—whole fresh strawberries and dairy-free ice cream—for a deliciously sweet drink with no added sugar.
These quick-pickled radishes are ready in 30 minutes and delicious on their own or on top of tacos, sandwiches, noodle bowls, and salads.
These Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Citrusy Maple Ginger Glaze are a flavorful way to add some color to your plate. Use regular carrots if that's what you have in the fridge. They'll be just as delicious.
Baked with juicy dates and a bite of fresh citrus, these whole-grain tahini cookies are satisfying and nutritious. (They also happen to be vegan!)
Creamy yogurt is blended with pumpkin, water, cinnamon, and maple syrup in this Pumpkin Lassi recipe—a tasty twist on the Indian-inspired drink.
Fuel up with fall-inspired Sweet Potato Energy Bars with sweet potatoes, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.
These simple 5-Ingredient Matcha Energy Bites are packable and provide a little added boost from green tea.
More Vegetarian Recipe Collections
Take a look at more recipe roundups from the Grateful Grazer archives:
- Vegetarian Lunches to Pack for Work or School
- 20 Best Vegan Soup Recipes
- Plant-Based Snack Ideas
- 30-Minute Vegetarian Dinner Recipes
- 13 Eco-Friendly Bowl Recipes for Fridge Foraging
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Did you like these Easy College Meals?
Leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram (@GratefulGrazer) if you try a recipe from this list. I'd love to hear how it went!