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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Texas chapter.

College life is a journey filled with new experiences, lifelong friendships, and the pursuit of knowledge. However, for many students, it also comes with a tight budget, limited time, and the challenge of making ends meet. This has been my personal experience trying to navigate through college.

When it comes to eating well on a shoestring budget, I often find myself searching for creative and cost-effective meal solutions. So this is my list of budget-friendly recipes that are delicious and easy to prepare. Say goodbye to ramen noodles as your go-to meal, and try these easy recipes.

  1.  One-Pot Pasta

One-pot pasta dishes are a lifesaver when you’re short on time and don’t want to deal with multiple pots and pans. Try this simple recipe:

  • In a large pot, add your choice of pasta, diced tomatoes, garlic, onion, and your favorite vegetables.
  • Pour enough water or vegetable broth to cover the ingredients.
  • Season with salt, pepper, and your preferred herbs or spices.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer until the pasta is cooked and the sauce has thickened.
  • Top with grated cheese or a drizzle of olive oil before serving.
  1. Microwave Baked Potato
  • Rinse a potato under cold water and scrub it. You can leave the skin on for added texture and flavor.
  • Use a fork to poke several holes in the potato. This helps steam escape while cooking and prevents the potato from bursting.
  • If desired, lightly brush the potato with olive oil or melted butter and season it with a pinch of salt and pepper. This step adds flavor and helps the skin become crispy.
  • Cook the potato on high for about 4-6 minutes per side, depending on the size of the potato and the power of your microwave. If you have a large potato, you might need to cook it for longer.
  • To check if the potato is done, insert a fork or knife into the center. It should slide in easily. If it’s still firm, microwave it for an additional minute or two until it’s tender.
  1. Pasta with pesto
  • Fill a large pot with water, add a pinch of salt, and bring it to a boil.
  • Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for about 8-12 minutes, depending on the type of pasta.
  • Before draining the pasta, save about a cup of the cooking water. You might need it to adjust the consistency of the sauce later.
  • Prepare the Pesto:
  • While the pasta is cooking, you can either use store-bought pesto sauce or make your own by blending fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, grated Parmesan cheese, and olive oil in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Once the pasta is done, drain it, transfer the hot pasta to a large bowl, and add the pesto sauce.
  • Toss everything together to evenly coat the pasta with the pesto. If the sauce is too thick, you can use the reserved pasta water to thin it out. 
  1. Quesadillas
  • Prepare Your Filling:
  • If using ingredients like cooked chicken, beef, or sautéed vegetables, have them ready before you start assembling the quesadillas. Make sure they are cooked and seasoned to your liking.
  • Heat a Skillet:
  • Place a large skillet over medium heat and add a small amount of butter or oil to prevent the tortillas from sticking.
  • Assemble the Quesadillas:
  • Lay one flour tortilla flat on a clean surface. Sprinkle a generous amount of grated cheese over one-half of the tortilla and add your chosen fillings on top of the cheese.
  • Fold the Tortilla:
  • Fold the tortilla in half over the fillings, creating a half-moon shape.
  • Cook the Quesadilla:
  • Carefully transfer the folded quesadilla to the heated skillet. Cook it for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until the tortilla is golden brown and the cheese is melted.
  1. Burrito bowl
  • Prepare the Rice:
  • Cook your choice of rice according to the package instructions. You can also season it with some taco seasoning or a pinch of salt and pepper for extra flavor.
  • Cook the Protein:
  • If you’re using animal protein, cook it in a skillet with your preferred seasonings until it’s fully cooked. For beans or tofu, heat them in a skillet with some olive oil and seasonings.
  • Sauté or Roast Vegetables:
  • In a separate pan, sauté or roast your choice of vegetables until they’re tender and slightly caramelized. Season with salt, pepper, and any desired spices for added flavor.
  • Assemble Your Bowl:
  • Start with a layer of cooked rice at the bottom of a bowl. Arrange your cooked protein on top of the rice, then place your sautéed or roasted vegetables over the protein.
  • Toppings:
  • Add your choice of toppings, some options are shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, chopped cilantro, and a lime wedge for a citrusy kick.
Amelie Baquero is a new member at Her Campus. She is a latina woman born and raised in Ecuador, but moved to the U.S. in 2019. Some of her hobbies include reading, photography and watching Gilmore Girls. Amelie is a junior at the University of Texas at Austin and is majoring in journalism. She fell in love with writing when she wrote for the Dallas College newspaper before going to UT. From there, she discovered that she wanted to be the voice of those who are ignored. Amelie dreams of one day being an investigative journalist or a global correspondent, and maybe working for the United Nations.