Moving out from my family of 7, one of the biggest adjustments was cooking! In college, I almost never ate out and now that I’m out of school, I eat out maybe 1-2x a week depending on how lazy I’m feeling!
I see a lot of lists for “meals for one” and “meals for college students.” Many of these lists require things that are hard to get/unrealistic or ingredients that only work for a handful of meals. I decided to compile a list of my favorite recipes, great for only one or two people.
- Few ingredients/ingredients you can use for multiple recipes
- No special appliances other than stove, microwave, oven (some may use a blender)
- Simple (I’m a bad cook)
Here are some of my favorite recipes that are budget-friendly and that work well for a single person. I used them throughout college and still use these as a single person! All of these recipes have ingredients you probably already have, or that work well for multiple meals.
25 Easy Budget Friendly Meals for One
I used a 3 quart instant pot for the chicken, but it’s not needed.
1. Chicken alfredo pasta
Aldi’s has a bag of pre-cooked frozen chicken cut up into tiny pieces. I stick this on the stove, make the spaghetti, add alfredo sauce, and mix together. If I’m feeling extra lazy I don’t even make the chicken, I just eat alfredo pasta. If I’m feeling luxurious, I’ll add frozen shrimp, which I just unthaw with the pasta cooking.
2. Chicken fried rice
I have a mini rice cooker ($5 from a garage sale), but you can make rice on the stove. The best rice for chicken fried rice is at least a day old and refrigerated. All you need is eggs, soy sauce, and fried rice seasoning packets (I get them from Meijer). I also add sesame oil to mine and it tastes just like take out. Add some chicken for protein and you’re all set! I typically make two cups of rice, which lasts me a couple of nights. (BONUS: Make a ton and freeze it for easy meals)
Grab garlic bread and shredded chicken for this super easy recipe. You don’t have to add the spices unless you want to. You can use leftover spaghetti sauce to make spaghetti.
All you need is butter, eggs, and a toasted piece of bread! I always add cheese to the top of mine.
I LOVE “in a mug” recipes. This one is simple and easy!
6. Sub sandwich
Sub sandwiches are an easy way to use up extra ingredients in your fridge. You can alter it to fit your personal preferences. You can use these same ingredients in tacos.
I always have a lot left, but I’m okay with eating these for a few days since they’re so good!
I’ve found SO many ways to eat pasta. I seriously love this recipe.
9. Chicken breasts
Get used to just eating chicken breasts and mix it up with a variety of spices!
10. Pancakes from muffin mixes
Use 2/3 cup of milk and an egg to turn a muffin mix into pancake batter. Make over the stove. These are quick, easy, and DELICIOUS!
11. Pork crescent rolls
I’ve recently gotten pulled pork from Meijer and stuff crescent rolls with it. Add some cheese and you’re good to go.
I LOVE sweet potatoes, and this recipe is super easy to make.
13. Ground beef tacos
I love cooking with ground beef. Grab some taco shells and stuff with your favorite ingredients. You can use these same ingredients in sub sandwiches.
14. Mac and cheese with hot dogs
Adding protein to my love of pasta makes me feel like I have a healthy diet.
15. Grilled cheese sandwich
Grilled cheese sandwiches are a great classic. Add some ham for protein.
16. Taco spaghetti
Add ground beef to spaghetti and pasta sauce for another great pasta combination.
Sheet pan meals are a super-easy way to eat a bunch of veggies and there’s no way to mess it up. I always add garlic sausage for some extra protein to make it more filling.
18. Smoothie bowls
Not a full meal, but I love making smoothie bowls. I use a mixture of frozen fruit, strawberries, bananas, and juice. Top with fresh fruit and crunchy granola for texture. There’s no wrong way to do it and you can use whatever fruit you have.
19. Egg wraps
These egg wraps are high protein and low carb.
20. Egg drop soup
21. Overnight oats
Overnight oats are an easy grab-and-go breakfast for a busy morning.
22. Lo mein
Lo mein is another recipe that can be altered depending on personal preferences. The key is using egg noodles. I use this seasoning, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Add some chicken or veggies to mix it up. (Here’s a recipe here.)
I LOVE how easy clean up is with mug recipes.
Say goodbye to Chipolte with this simple burrito bowl. Your wallet will thank you!
This meal was delicious and easy. I substituted chicken broth for the water that was in my instant pot (from the chicken) and added mozzarella cheese on top. Easy, simple, and without a bunch of leftover ingredients!
There are so many unique ways to mix up ramen noodles. This one uses an Asian spin with garlic and soy sauce.
This recipe requires NO rising, NO bread machine, and is super easy. You just stick all the ingredients in a blender and then a bread pan! Honey (or maple syrup) is used as a sweetener so there is no sugar, plus no flour (it uses rolled oats).
I love Duncan Hines’ dessert in a mug treats. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream or Haagen Dasz is also a favorite treat. I don’t have a huge sweet teeth, so I love these single-serving options.