The College Student’s Guide to Cooking Quick, Easy, Affordable Meals

If you’re a college student then it’s time to start packing your things and buying this year’s textbooks. As you prepare to return to school you may be moving into a new apartment, dorm room or sorority/fraternity house. If you’re lucky enough to have a kitchen to cook in, you’ll be looking for simple, easy recipes. Fridge and cupboard storage space is probably limited and a student’s budget means the kitchen is only outfitted with basic utensils and appliances. You would be doing good just to avoid ordering pizza every night, so trendy, cheffy recipes are out and affordable, satisfying recipes are in.

As a busy student, your iPad is the key to avoiding takeout and enjoying healthy, home cooked meals. Choosing the right apps will ensure you’ve got great resources for finding quick, easy, affordable recipes and executing them successfully. I’ve carefully searched the Appstore to create a collection of must-have cooking apps for college students. Keep reading to get my top five picks for scholarly foodies.

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Mark Bittman’s Cooking Basics

Do you want to learn to cook but have no idea where to start? Cooking Basics is all about mastering basic techniques, like cooking the perfect egg or knowing exactly when your sautéed pork chop is done. You’ll find step-by-step photographs of every technique and special classes to build your cooking skills.

Cooking Basics helps you master basic techniques with step-by-step photographs and simple, straightforward recipes.

Cooking Basics helps you master basic techniques with step-by-step photographs and simple, straightforward recipes.

Mark Bittman’s easygoing, encouraging presence is like having your dad next to you in the kitchen, guiding you through each of the 185 recipes. Dishes stick to a handful of common pantry ingredients and Bittman offers multiple variations so you can use the same technique to create different dishes.

Cooking Basics recipes are great for busy college students who want quick, satisfying and flavorful meals.

Cooking Basics recipes are great for busy college students who want quick, satisfying and flavorful meals.

The selection of recipes is perfect for college students: one pot soups like minestrone, Asian noodles (put down that ramen!), countless pasta variations, simple grilled or roasted vegetables, quick kebabs, flavorful curries and convenient sausage sautés. This app also offers the most advanced tools to make cooking more efficient, with the ability to set multiple timers and organize sophisticated shopping lists. If you only purchase one app from this list, Cooking Basics is the one to go for. Check out my full review of Cooking Basics.

Nigella Quick Collection

Another app that’s perfect for busy students, Nigella Quick Collection, is “designed to make the most out of whatever’s in your fridge.” It’s all about saving time and keeping steps simple without skimping on flavor. The app is organized by fun and enticing recipe collections like What’s in Your Fridge? and Food Moods.

Nigella’s Quick Collection is all about cooking meals to suit your mood with the pantry ingredients you’ve got on hand.

Nigella’s Quick Collection is all about cooking meals to suit your mood with the pantry ingredients you’ve got on hand.

Missing home or feeling a little run down? Go straight for the Comfort collection for a warming chicken noodle soup. Planning a date night? Try Nigella’s Instant Chocolate Mousse. Need to make supper but only have a handful of pantry ingredients? Pantry Paella to the rescue! If Bittman is the straight shooting fatherly kitchen figure, Nigella is a warm and consoling presence when mom is thousands of miles away.

Must-Have Recipes from Better Homes and Gardens

Speaking of mom, even if your mother didn’t cook, she probably kept a copy of the iconic Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook on her kitchen counter. Must-Have Recipes from Better Homes and Gardens is where you’ll find the ubiquitous Mexican Seven-Layer Dip, everyday homemade casseroles and traditional chili. They’ve jazzed the app up with new and modern recipes, but it’s the old favorites mom used to make that you’ll be looking for.

Must-Have Recipes from Better Homes and Gardens is where you’ll find the nostalgic recipes mom used to make when you were a kid.

Must-Have Recipes from Better Homes and Gardens is where you’ll find the nostalgic recipes mom used to make when you were a kid.

If you’re cooking for a crowd of students living together, the lasagnas and casseroles will come in super handy. The real gem in this collection of recipes is the Slow Cooker section. Picture this: toss a handful of ingredients into the crock pot before heading off to class for the afternoon and you return to a ready-made meal and your place smells mouthwateringly good. Genius!

Foodie Recipes: Back To School

The latest (free) issue in the Foodie Recipes cookbook app is Back To School, and it’s full of inspiring recipes for your lunchbox. You get 40 recipes for snacks, sandwiches and flatbreads, salads, entrees, sides and sweets. Recipes are pulled from popular food bloggers around the world, so it’s a great mix of creative takes on old classics and more adventuresome, global flavors.

Foodie Recipes: Back To School is a collection of fun recipes for your lunchbox from food bloggers around the world.

Foodie Recipes: Back To School is a collection of fun recipes for your lunchbox from food bloggers around the world.

Reduce your intake of processed foods by making your own trail mix, nut bars, crackers and chips. Push yourself to try something new by making your own sushi rolls (much cheaper than the packs at the grocery store). Instead of stopping for takeout, make falafel. This app is all about having fun in the kitchen with simple, yet creative techniques.

Martha Stewart Makes Cookies

After all that studying, you’re going to need a sweet treat now and then. Martha Stewart Makes Cookies is the ultimate resource on the subject. Instructional videos and easy to follow recipes guide you through the steps. Six recipe bundles will keep you inspired with fun cookies to try all through the school year.

Martha Stewart Bakes Cookies includes 6 recipe collections to inspire you throughout the year, from classic to chocolate to holiday baking.

Martha Stewart Bakes Cookies includes 6 recipe collections to inspire you throughout the year, from classic to chocolate to holiday baking.

It’s great to have a collection of cookie recipes on hand so you’ll always have something special to bring to study groups and social events. Who knows, you may even be sending mom care packages to ease her empty nest syndrome!

Conclusion

No matter how simple your kitchen, how sparse your pantry or how severely pinched your pennies are, cooking at home is a better alternative to cafeteria food and take out. Home cooked meals are comforting during the stresses of exams and can be healthier, keeping the freshman fifteen at bay. It’s all about mastering a few simple techniques and keeping an efficient, practically stocked pantry. These apps are full of simple, flavorful recipes perfect for busy college students with limited kitchen equipment and spending money.