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College meals made easy

The expense of putting a child through college is enormous. In addition to tuition, housing, books and school supplies, there is also food. Even if your child has a meal plan in their dormitory, the cafeteria may not be open at all hours. If they have their own apartment and can’t cook, the expenses rise even further. And students have to eat! Look for cheap, easy alternatives to fast food and pizza.

Here are some affordable, easy meal ideas that are ideal for a college student’s schedule and budget.



Ramen Noodles

A mainstay for most college students, Ramen noodles don’t have to be boring. Students can use the noodles as the base for their meal and then add vegetables and chicken to make the noodles heartier and healthier.


If your child doesn’t have access to a stove in their dorm room, they can use the microwave. Many companies offer pre-cooked chicken strips that can be kept in a mini-fridge or freezer, then just heated up in the microwave. Add these strips to Ramen noodles to make a simple meal.


Quick and easy meals

If your child is out in his or her own apartment but not much of a cook. These quick meals can carry them through the week.


Frozen dinners

Nothing is easier than popping a frozen dinner in the microwave. Encourage your child to choose their frozen entrees wisely. Most of these dinners contain high amounts of sodium and fat. Look for low-salt, healthy options, such as Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice and Smart Ones.



Frozen burritos are another popular choice among college students. For more variety, they can also make their own burritos instead. Tortillas, refried beans, cheese and salsa are all that’s necessary for basic burritos. Add chicken, beef and fresh vegetables for more protein and nutrients.



Spaghetti is a staple in most college students’ diets. It’s extremely affordable and simple to make. Using spaghetti and jarred sauce, your child can whip up a meal in minutes. Add fresh tomatoes, green peppers, onions and ground beef or turkey for a more hearty option.


Simple home-cooked meals

If you live nearby your child’s college campus, make some delicious, home-cooked meals that your child can freeze or store, then heat up throughout the week. This will give them a little taste of home and at least you will know they are eating well. Here are three popular, easy to make meals for college students. Moms can make them for their children, or kids can even make them on their own.


Cheeseburger pie

1 lb. ground beef
1 cup chopped onions
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
3 eggs
3/4 cup baking mix
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 large tomatoes
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Grease a large casserole dish.
Brown beef and onion in non-stick skillet and drain.
Spread beef into casserole dish.
Beat milk, eggs, baking mix, salt and pepper for 90 seconds with hand mixer.
Pour the ingredients into the dish on top of the beat.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Top with chopped tomatoes and cheese.
Bake an additional 5 minutes


Crockpot lasagna

1 10 oz. box lasagna noodles
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1/2 large white onion
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
12 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
8 oz. ricotta cheese
12 oz. tomato or spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper


Break lasagna noodles into pieces and cook according to package directions.
Drain and rinse with cool water.
Brown ground meat, onion and garlic powder in a large non-stick skillet. Drain.
Add all ingredients to greased crock pot and mix.
Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours.
Season to taste.


Easy chicken and cheese enchiladas

1 8-oz package cream cheese
1 10 3/4-oz can cream of chicken soup
1 cup salsa
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast meat
12 corn tortillas
1 cup shredded Colby-Jack cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1 medium tomato


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream cheese, soup and salsa.
Heat, stirring constantly until melted and well blended. Stir in chicken.
Heat tortillas in microwave for a few seconds until you can roll them without cracking.
Fill each tortilla with chicken mixture; roll.
Place rolled tortillas in a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish.
Sprinkle with shredded cheese, covering tortillas completely.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Top with sour cream and diced tomatoes.

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How to cope when your child goes away to college

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