5 Simple Recipes for University Students

From pinching pennies to learning to write an academic essay for the first time, it’s hard being a university student. Living on your own as well? Then it can be even tougher as you’ll be learning to cook for yourself. You can only live off ramen noodles, hot dogs and leftover pizza for so long! Though those old fail-safes can be life savers, it’s important to find recipes that are healthy, quick and (most importantly!) taste good. Thankfully, we’ve found five deliciously simple recipes that will help you on your journey to diversifying your diet!

Chicken Jambalaya

With only a handful of ingredients and very few steps, this one is hard to mess up. This chicken jambalaya recipe by Good Housekeeping pairs notes of spice with mild flavors, making it perfect for those who don’t cook much but still enjoy something with a kick from time to time. Make a big batch and save the leftovers for lunch and the next day’s dinner. Having things like Cajun seasoning and rice on hand will also be good for other quick recipes like beans and rice or a simply seasoned chicken breast.


  • 1 onion, diced

  • 2 ounces chorizo, chopped

  • 1 pound chicken breasts, cut into pieces

  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning

  • 1 green pepper, roughly chopped

  • 1/2-1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

  • 12 ounces long grain rice

  • 1-1/3 pint chicken stock

  • 14 ounces can tomatoes

  • Chopped parsley, to garnish


  1. Warm a medium-large pan over medium-high heat and add a few drops of olive oil.

  2. Cook onions and chorizo for roughly 8 minutes (or until fully cooked). Onions should become nearly transparent.

  3. Toss in the chicken and let it cook for another 8 minutes.

  4. Add pepper, Cajun seasoning and green chilli and cook until the mixture has softened. If the pan looks dry, add a little bit of water.

  5. Mix in rice, stock and tomatoes and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it cook for 20-25 minutes or until the rice has completely cooked through.

  6. Serve and garnish with parsley.

Quick Fish Tacos

If there’s one word that will make any university student’s ears perk up, it’s “tacos.” This means no student’s recipe book is complete without one easy, delicious taco recipe and AllRecipes has just the one. This one uses mild, tender Tilapia and sweet sour cream paired with flavors you won’t believe took you less than 30 minutes to cook up.


  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

  • 1 jalapeno pepper, halved lengthwise

  • 2-1/2 cups shredded red cabbage

  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 pound Tilapia fillets, cut into strips

  • 8 (6 inch) flour tortillas

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. In a large bowl, mix together sour cream and lime juice then season with salt and black pepper. Place half the mixture in another bowl and set aside.

  2. Mince half of the jalapeno and mix it in with the remainder of the sour cream mixture along with cabbage and green onions.

  3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and the second half of the jalapeno over medium heat. Make sure you have an even coat of oil.

  4. Season Tilapia fillets with salt and pepper and lay them in the skillet once it’s hot. Pan fry until the fillets are golden brown, which normally takes 5-6 minutes. Once all of the Tilapia is cooked, throw away the half jalapeno.

  5. Heat up the tortillas in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.

  6. Serve tacos with Tilapia and slaw mixture with the reserved sour cream mixture on the side. Garnish with cilantro.

Turkey Chilli Jacket Potatoes

This creative way to make and eat chilli by BBC Good Food is perfect for the fall semester when it gets a little chilly on campus (pun very much intended). Think hearty chilli served on and in a potato, topped with cheese—what could be better? If you feel like sharing, it might even make you the most popular chef in your dorm!


  • 4 large baking potatoes

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

  • 10-11 ounces turkey mince

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon soft light brown sugar

  • 1-1/2 cups passata

  • Reduced-fat Red Leicester, grated, to serve

  • 4 spring onions, chopped, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 390 degrees. Use a fork and poke into the potato all over, coat it with a little bit of oil and place in the oven for 45 minutes.

  2. To make the chilli, use a large frying pan and heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic and seasoning for about five minutes or until soft. Add turkey and season again. Turn up the heat and begin to break apart the minced turkey. Once the turkey is cooked, add sugar, vinegar, passata and spices. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cook for 10 minutes.

  3. Once the potatoes are done, take them out of the oven and cut across the top to form an “X”. Spoon in chili, top with grated cheese and spring onions. Serve.

Parmesan Pesto Tilapia

This simple recipe by Pinch of Yum is incredibly flavorful and will have you believing you’ve become a professional cook overnight! With minimal ingredients and a short cook time, this tender Tilapia perfect for when you get home from a late study session and need to whip something up really quickly.


  • 4 6-ounce Tilapia filets

  • 1/4 cup basil pesto

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 cup fresh chopped tomatoes

  • Salt and pepper

  • Lemon juice

  • Butter


  1. Preheat broiler (most ovens have a broiler setting, even toaster ovens).

  2. To prep the Tilapia, pat it dry with some paper towel. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and coating it with cooking spray or olive oil. Place Tilapia onto baking sheet.

  3. Sprinkle each fillet with 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese and place in the broiler for 10-11 minutes. The fish should become opaque and flaky and the cheese should be golden brown.

  4. Place on a plate and top with tomatoes, pesto, salt, pepper, lemon juice and melted butter. Serve.

Tomato, Onion & Basil One-Pan Pasta

This recipe featured on Spoon University has two things going for it. For one, it turns out some incredibly delicious pasta. The second is that it only use ones pot so you won’t have to do too many dishes! Just relax and enjoy this delicious dish without having to worry about the clean up. Feel like adding a bit of protein? Quickly fry up a Tilapia fillet and place on top for a heartier meal.


  • 12 ounces linguini

  • 12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half

  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish

  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 4-1/2 cups water

  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. In a large skillet or pot, combine pasta, tomatoes, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, oil, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Leave it uncovered so the water can evaporate.

  2. Use tongs to stir pasta frequently. The mixture should boil for roughly 9 minutes. This will allow most of the water to evaporate and the pasta to cook until it is al dente.

  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with oil and parmesan on the side.

It’s not all that difficult to make a hearty, delicious meal. You just need to put in a little bit of time to learn some basic cooking skills, even if that means peeling yourself away from studying (or Netflix, more realistically). Even the most simple recipes will fill you up and leave you energized so you cn focus on studying for exams and writing term papers. What are you waiting for? Get cooking!

Photos: Jayme Burrows / Shutterstock ,Good HousekeepingAllRecipes, Joe Gough/ Shutterstock, Pinch of YumAbigail Wang