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Delicious Recipes That Cost Less Than $5

Processed food and fast food are what many college students live on because, let’s face it, it’s cheap and easy. Nevermind what ingredients are actually in the food, a quick cheap meal will suffice almost all the time. But sometimes, our body needs a detox from all of that processed nonsense, or maybe we just want to feel self-sufficient and actually cook something in the kitchen that we pay for every month, but never use.

If that’s the case, then we need to decide what to cook, while taking into account the amount of time we have, our past cooking experience, the ingredients we need and how much all of that will cost. I feel your pain. Here are some foolproof recipes that are $5 or less per serving and will satisfy your hunger as much as your wallet.


Cheese Omelettes: $3.99-5.05 per serving

For this recipe you don’t even need to used the stove. Just use your handy dandy microwave.


  • 1 large egg (or 2 egg whites) 
  • 2 Tbsp. milk of your choice
  • Pinch salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp. cheese of choice

You can also add in other vegetables or meat. Try this recipe.

3-Ingredient Banana Pancakes: $1.34-$2.60 per serving

These pancakes aren’t only delicious but they’re also gluten-free and low calorie, perfect for a guilt-free yet satisfying breakfast!


  • 1½ large bananas, ripe to overripe
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅛ tsp. baking powder
  • Maple syrup, butter, or blueberries, to serve

Read this recipe here.

Baked Eggs in Ham Cups: 33 cents – 49 cents per cup

Not green eggs and ham, but baked eggs in ham! Perfect for a health easy breakfast.


  • 12 slices of ham
  • 12 eggs
  • Salt, pepper, and paprika

Check out the recipe here.


Italian Mac and Cheese: $3.05-$4.90 per serving

This is way better than Kraft.


  • 1 pound dry elbow macaroni noodles
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 cup parmigiano-reggiano, grated, plus more for serving
  • 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Try this recipe on for size.

Easy Pizza Bubble Bread: $4.69-$6.40 (feeds 4-6 people)

Some of you might have heard of this, or made it before in middle school in Family and Consumer Science (FACs) class or Home Economics class. It’s so easy and super delicious.


  • 1 roll of biscuit dough 
  • 1 cup pizza sauce 
  • 2 cups cheese 
  • Toppings as desired

Follow this recipe from Spend With Pennies.

Homemade Tuna Cakes: 80 cents-$2.04 per serving (2 cakes)

Want a cheap way to make faux crab cakes? Use canned tuna and turn them into cakes!   


  • 1 can of tuna, drained 
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs 
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped 
  • 1 egg 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Follow this recipe.


Vegetable spaghetti: $4.24 – $7.49 per batch

This is a way healthier twist on spaghetti when you are craving a big bowl of pasta.


  • 16-ounce box of spaghetti noodles 
  • A bag of your favorite frozen vegetables
  • Jar of spaghetti sauce

Follow the full recipe from Fine Cooking.

Chicken & Rice: $3.07 per serving

When you are in need of a simple hearty meal, this will fill you up for sure.


  • 1 1/2 cups white rice 
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup 
  • 2 cans of water
  • 4 – 4 oz. chicken breasts 
  • salt & pepper to taste

See how to put it all together here.

One Pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff: $1.80 per serving

Good ‘ol comfort food at its finest.


  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ lb. ground beef 
  • 8 oz. fresh button mushrooms 
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour 
  • 2 cups beef broth 
  • 8 oz. wide egg noodles 
  • ⅓ cup sour cream

Find the recipe here.


Three Minute Fudge: $3.89 – $4.39 per pan of fudge

You’ll want to make this (and eat this) everyday.


  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 oz.) bag any chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

This recipe is so easy that it’s dangerous.

Dump Cake: $2.00-$2.50 per dump cake

This cake tastes much better than its name suggests. There isn’t any tedious mixing or measuring, all you do is dump everything into a pan and bake it!


  • 2 cans of fruit of your choice, frozen or canned
  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • ¾ cup butter sliced into pats

This is the perfect recipe to make after a long day of stressful midterms.

Easy Yummy Parfait: $3.49 – $5.49 per parfait

This recipe is perfect to satisfy your sweet tooth and your wallet without feeling guilty.


  • Sliced Strawberries or your favorite fruit 
  • Cereal 
  • Yogurt 

No cooking required. Throw all the ingredients in a bow, cup or jar and you’re set!

You don’t have starve yourself or eat processed food if you don’t have a lot of money. All of these recipes will make you feel like you’re a professional chef without hurting your college student budget.

Robin is a junior at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities studying Professional Journalism, Studies of Cinema and Media Culture and Communications. She is a huge film, TV and musical theater buff (needless to say she spends too much time binge watching). She is an avid Couponer and money saver with hopes of becoming a Film Critic one day. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/robinrose44 or find her pieces on http://www.hercampus.com/school/minnesota