Five Easy and Budget-Friendly Meals

With the closure of some on-campus restaurants, many students– especially those who were planning on purchasing meal plans– have had to learn how to budget and meal prep. Here are five easy meal ideas that make great leftovers and won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

  1. 1. Caprese Anything


    There are certain flavor combinations that work really well regardless of what form they come in– and a mix of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil is one of them. 

    Caprese salads are obviously amazing, but this works well in a couple other forms as well. Caprese sandwiches can be made with chicken or turkey for added protein and taste amazing with some extra basil pesto. This also works with pasta, which can be reheated easily for multiple meals throughout the week. These ingredients are also normally sold in packs that allow you to make multiple meals.

  2. 2. Quesadillas

    Quesadillas may seem basic in that they’re incredibly easy to make, but they’re also incredibly easy to customize and change up for different flavors. When something takes little effort to make, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of making it the same way for multiple days or meals in a row. 

    By changing up proteins (chicken, steak and pork are great options) or adding different salsas and vegetables add more variety to an easy meal. Tortillas are relatively cheap and stores like Trader Joe’s have many affordable options for salsas and vegetables.

  3. 3. Chicken a Million Different Ways


    Well, maybe just three different ways. 

    Chicken is one of the healthier meats, but can get really bland if you’re eating it every single night. Buying a pack of chicken breasts and dividing it up into two or three meals can make prepping a lot easier. One meal can be breaded chicken or chicken nuggets made with breadcrumbs and eggs. Another meal can be sauteed chicken and rice with whatever spices you’ve got in your kitchen- opting for brown rice can make this healthier as well. You can also find different packs of sauces and marinades that are premade and bake your chicken with that for a change in flavor.

  4. 4. Vegetarian Nuggets

    When meat isn’t an option due to necessity or preference, there are still plenty of ways to make chicken-less chicken nuggets. Nuggets can be made with cauliflower and tofu or veggie nuggets which are sold in most grocery stores. For vegan options, the eggs can be substituted with other binding ingredients. This is a healthier way to enjoy nuggets that won’t vary in price too much.

  5. 5. Trader Joe’s Frozen Meals

    Trader Joe'S Reusable Bag

    For anyone who either doesn’t like to cook, or just doesn’t have the time, Trader Joe’s Frozen Meals are a miracle. They’ve got pizzas, pastas, mini tacos, different Chinese foods, breakfast options such as hashbrowns or sausages and so much more. 

    These may not always be the healthiest, but they’re incredibly easy to make and good to have as a backup in case you don’t feel like cooking or just don’t have the time. The frozen meals are also reasonably priced and normally come with multiple servings so leftovers are always an option.

Sometimes after a long day of class or work, making dinner can seem like a tall task– especially knowing that if it wasn’t for COVID-19 you’d be enjoying a large plate of TDR fries instead. But sometimes it can be fun and there are many cheap and easy ways to eat happy and healthy.

Sources: (1, 2, 3)