5 Homemade Meals to Make Your First Semester at College

(Image credit: Izy Hossack)

Cooking for yourself can be daunting at first, especially with limits on budget, equipment, and time. No need to worry, though — we’ve got a selection of easy recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that will fuel you for hours of studying (and partying!).

(Image credit: Izy Hossack)

Waking up for an early morning lecture is probably the worst part of the week. Luckily, if you prep some baked oatmeal cups in advance, your mornings will be a bit easier. They’re tasty and filling too, so you won’t have the awkward stomach-rumble-while-the-professor-talks problem.

For lunch, a thrifty tuna poke bowl with a gingery dressing will keep you going and probably leave you enough time for an afternoon nap. If fish isn’t your thing, go for a sweet potato veggie burger! If you make a batch on Sunday to freeze, you’ll be set for lunch or dinner throughout the week.

If you’re feeling a bit homesick and need some serious comfort food, a hearty beef and ale pie will cheer you up — especially paired with no-knead garlic bread to share while watching Netflix with your friends.

5 Meals for Your First Semester at College

Meals at Home:

For Sharing with Friends:

The Recipes

Your Meal Plan

Baked Oatmeal Cups: These make enough for six breakfasts and are great to stash in the freezer. Make a double batch for easy breakfasts for weeks!

Low-Rent Tuna Poke Bowl: This is the kind of meal that can be quickly made when you don’t have time or aren’t in the mood to cook. Pack it to go and take it to campus for lunch, or make it for a quick dinner after classes.

Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers: Make a big batch of these and you’ll have easy lunches and dinners all week. The patties also freeze well, so stash some away for emergencies.

No-Knead Garlic Tear & Share Bread: This recipe has late-night cramming session written all over it. It’s also a great side dish to go with the beef & ale pie if you’re having a dinner party with friends.

Skillet Beef & Ale Pie: This is an easy dish for your first dinner party — it’s satisfying and it feeds a crowd! If you want it all to yourself, it can be six hearty meals to look forward to eating all week long.

(Image credit: Izy Hossack)

Your Shopping List

Buy at the store:

  • Fresh ginger (1-inch piece)
  • Garlic (2 cloves)
  • Avocado (1 medium)
  • Sweet potato (1 small, about 5 ounces)
  • Yellow onion (1 medium)
  • Carrot (1 medium)
  • Plum tomatoes (4 medium)
  • Celery (1 stick)
  • Cherry tomatoes (small box)
  • Cilantro (small bunch)
  • Scallions (small bunch)
  • Parsley (small bunch, optional)
  • Orange juice (2 tablespoons, or 1 medium orange)
  • Milk, any kind (3/4 cup)
  • Eggs (2 large)
  • Ground beef (16 ounces)
  • Hamburger buns (8)
  • Salted butter (1/3 cup)
  • Puff pastry (9 ounces)
  • Cannellini beans (1 14-ounce can)
  • Black beans (1 14-ounce can)
  • Canned tuna in brine (2 5-ounce cans)
  • Rice or other grain (1/2 cup dry, or 1 cup cooked)
  • Old-fashioned rolled oats (2 to 2 1/4 cups)
  • Chia seeds (2 tablespoons, optional)
  • Pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup)
  • Sesame seeds (1 tablespoon)
  • Sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup)
  • Raisins or other dried fruit (1/3 cup)
  • Smoked paprika (1 teaspoon)
  • Cayenne (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Beer (1 cup)

In your pantry:

  • All-purpose flour (4 cups + 2 tablespoons)
  • Active-dry yeast (1 teaspoon)
  • Salt (2 1/4 teaspoon, plus more for seasoning)
  • Sugar (1 teaspoon)
  • Baking powder (1 teaspoon)
  • Cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Dried oregano (1 teaspoon)
  • Dried thyme (1 teaspoon)
  • Nut butter (2 tablespoons)
  • Soy sauce (2 teaspoons)
  • Worcestershire sauce (1 tablespoon)
  • Sesame oil (1 teaspoon)
  • Vegetable oil (1 tablespoon)