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The Best Students Dinners You Can Make

Preparing cheap and healthy student dinners from scratch

Budget-friendly student dinners are vital

The old cliche of ramen noodles and frozen vegetables as typical student dinners doesn’t have to be true for you if you know how and what to buy. Eating well is not just enjoyable, it is foundational to how you feel, and maximizes your cognitive functioning. Consuming high amounts of processed sugars, and an overall low-quality diet of packaged, processed foods is going to mess with your body and your mind’s ability to keep up with the day-to-day demands of university.

If you are a university student, or are soon to be one, and you are worried about maintaining a healthy diet during your studies, below are some cheap and easy dinners for students that will nurture mind, body, and soul without decimating your wallet.

Fresh pasta sauce

Even if you consider yourself a sub-par chef, anyone can boil pasta noodles. Simply fill a pot with water, bring to a boil, fill with as many noodles you plan on eating (it’s always a good idea to make leftovers – either for lunch the next day, or to eat again the following evening), making sure the noodles are covered by at least an inch of water, add a bit of salt, and simmer on medium for ten minutes. You can regularly check the noodles while you’re cooking them to make sure they come out al dente.

Now the sauce. You can buy store-bought sauce in a jar, but that’s expensive (and typically not that great), or you can take half an hour and make enough fresh pasta sauce to last you for an entire week’s worth of meals. Take 5 tomatoes, ¾ teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, half a garlic clove, 1 sprig of basil, and 1 bay leaf. This recipe will give you about 2.5 cups of pasta sauce (which should amount to around 4 meals). If you really want to economize, you can double, triple, or quadruple the batch and invest in some plastic storage containers which you can fill with sauce and place in the fridge for future consumption.

Hearty soups

A hearty homemade chicken soup is another essential item in the student dinners repertoire. This is something that can be made inexpensively, and which you can make a lot of. Soups are especially great during the cold months because comfort food always provides a nice emotional boost as well. To make homemade chicken soup, however, you will need a large soup pot. This might be something you request for a birthday, graduation, or an anniversary. Or you can quickly save enough money on grocery bills to repay the investment with just a few uses.

To begin this meal, you’ll need to pick up a 3 pound roasted chicken from your local grocery store. Whole chickens are usually cheaper (pound-for-pound) than buying pre-cut parts like breasts, thighs, and legs because no labour costs have gone into preparing it. You will also need 4 halved carrots, 4 halved celery stalks, 1 haved large onion, salt and pepper (however much you deem necessary), and 1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon.

All you have to do with this recipe is put the chicken and vegetables into the pot, cover with cold water, bring the water to a boil and simmer it (with the pot uncovered) until the meat falls off the bones, making sure to skim any foam off the top every once in a while. Then remove everything from the pot, strain the broth, remove any bones, dice the vegetables, add the salt, pepper, bouillon, chicken, and veggies to the strained broth, stir and serve.

Homemade Tzatziki and pita

Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dips and flatbreads are some of the tastiest, healthiest, easiest (if you know what you’re doing) student dinners on the planet, and tzatziki has to be at the top of the list. Most countries in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean have some version of the yogurt-based dip, but you can’t go wrong with Greek Tzatziki. Best of all, you can eat off of the $15 worth of groceries it costs to make the dip for days.

Tzatziki can be whipped up in around 15 minutes. To make it you’ll need one tub of thick, unflavoured greek yogurt, a lemon, a head of garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, dill, and a cucumber. Olive oil is not cheap, but if you spend $10 on a bottle, it should last you a while. To begin, empty the tub of yogurt into a medium-sized mixing bowl. You will also need something to grate (the cucumber and the garlic).

Grate half a cucumber using the largest holes on the grater. Place the cucumber into a couple of folded pieces of paper towel and then strain the water out by squeezing the mass together over the sink. Once sufficiently drained (you don’t want your tzatziki full of water), add the grated cucumber to the yoghurt. Then at 4 cloves of grated garlic (or more if you like garlic), at least two tablespoons of dill (or more if you like dill), grate one teaspoon of lemon zest, squeeze in juice from the entire lemon, add salt and pepper to taste, a tablespoon of olive oil, mix very well and set in the fridge to chill (or eat at room temperature if you’re hungry). You can pick up a package of 8-10 pitas in the bakery section at your grocery store for a few dollars.

Learning to make, and keep to a food budget are two skills you will invariably learn while at university. Eating well should be a priority, and you don’t need to break the bank to put together meals that will fuel you, be a joy to eat and make, and won’t eat up hours of your time preparing. If you find yourself pressed for time, and have reverted to the old cliche student dinners mentioned at the beginning of this article, contact Homework Help Global and let one of our professional academic essay writers help lighten the load while you refuel properly.

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Selhub, E. (2015). “Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food.” Harvard Medical School. Retrieved from:

Tannis, D. (2018). “Quick Fresh Tomato Sauce.” New York Times. Retrieved from: