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Your college student is growing up! They can eat in the dining hall or have food delivered. They’ve even learned how to do their own laundry. But when it comes to bigger tasks like making dinner in their dorm rooms, how can they cook food when they may have only a microwave and mini fridge? More importantly, what meals can students with allergies or dietary restrictions make?
Even with limited cooking or storage options, students can still create their own college meals with cookbooks designed just for them.
These 15 cookbooks for college students approach cooking in a dorm with affordability, time and food accessibility in mind. When you pack the XL twin sheets and mini fridge, consider adding one of these college-friendly cookbooks as well.
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Quick tip: Buy one of these cookbooks before your high school grad heads off to college, then shop with them for the basic ingredients and try making some of their favorites together.
Here are 15 essential cookbooks for college students.
1. The Easy College Cookbook: 75 Quick Affordable Recipes for Campus Life
College kids don’t have time to fuss with their food. The Easy College Cookbook is billed as “no-fuss recipes for making tasty, affordable meals from the comfort of your dorm room.” The cookbook doesn’t just offer recipes, it also includes tips and tricks on cooking in a dorm room. From dietary adjustments to budget-friendly recipes, this cookbook has a little something for everyone.
2. Easy College Cookbook for Guys: Effortless Recipes to Learn the Basics of Cooking
Sometimes ignoring the focus of a cookbook can be a good thing. This cookbook is really not just “for guys”—any college student can use some of these 75 tasty and affordable recipes in their dorm. In addition to recipes, subjects include Cooking 101, an intro to economics and budgeting, plus equipment basics. With recipes for favorites like steak fajitas and s’mores, this cookbook features basics and beyond with vegan options included.
3. Healthy, Quick & Easy College Cookbook: 100 Simple, Budget-Friendly Recipes to Satisfy Your Campus Cravings
This cookbook’s tagline is “You don't need to survive on fast food for four years!” With over 100 simple and delicious recipes for students on a budget, the Healthy, Quick & Easy College Cookbook includes meal planning information as well. Basic ingredients combined with helpful tips and meal prep hacks make this cookbook a way for college students to stretch their budget while growing their cooking skills—all with healthy food options included for mom’s peace-of-mind, too. This is a practical cookbook students might keep around long after college is over.
4. The College Cookbook: 100+ Fast, Fresh, Easy & Cheap Recipes
Some college students leave home with cooking experience. In this cookbook, more advanced student cooks can still create affordable dorm room options. The image on the front of this cookbook looks like a magazine cover which gives a clue the recipes inside are more for the intermediate college-bound cook. If your student knows their way around a kitchen, this cookbook includes a wide range of over 100 recipes with full-color photo guidance to help make their dorm room known as a little gourmet.
5. Quick & Simple Instant Noodle Cookbook: Instant Noodle Recipes That Can Be Made in A Matter of Minutes
College kids and ramen go together like peanut butter and jelly. Finding a ramen cookbook that isn’t the trendy kind with hardboiled eggs and fancy ingredients isn’t as easy as you might think. What college kid has fresh eggs in their dorm let alone a way to perfectly boil them and source Asian spices or fresh proteins? This quick and simple cookbook elevates humble ramen and the flavor packet with accessible and affordable add-ins. Surviving college on cheap ramen is a little fancier and faster with these 100 recipes.
6. The Unofficial ALDI Cookbook: Delicious Recipes Made With Fan Favorites From The Award-Winning Grocery Store
Finding ingredients that are accessible and affordable may be more important than the actual recipes for busy, hungry college students. The Unofficial ALDI Cookbook answers both of those needs: ALDI stores are found near many colleges and $20 buys a lot of groceries.
This recent cookbook offers easy-to-follow recipes, shopping tips and even a little ALDI history. With a high Amazon rating, the reviews make this a cookbook for college and beyond. ALDI brand ingredients are at the heart of the recipes that guide college students into making meals for any time of the day: baked French toast with berries, chicken parmigiana, shrimp scampi, everything bagel dip and easy-peasy frozen yogurt. Easy for college students is key—these 75 recipes and guiding full-color photographs make this cookbook a dorm must-have.
7. Meal In A Mug: 80 Fast, Easy Recipes For Hungry People
The magic of a humble dorm microwave. Popcorn. Frozen meals. Reheated leftovers. College students can also make “real” food with this cookbook: soups, side dishes, mains and desserts all cooked in the microwave—and in a mug, to boot. As with many college-focused cookbooks, this one bills itself as simple and easy; some recipes require a little more time and ingredients than may be practical in a dorm room.
8. The Instant Pot College Cookbook: 75 Quick and Easy Meals that Taste Like Home
Toasters may not be allowed in dorms but most colleges do allow Instant Pots. If you send your college student to the dorm with an Instant Pot, this cookbook is a great accompaniment. With 75 easy recipes, the cookbook includes options for everything from breakfast to perennial favorite mac-and-cheese. This cookbook also goes beyond recipes to explain how an Instant Pot/pressure cooker works, how to optimize what an Instant Pot can do and ways to make meals on a budget, in a dorm room.
9. The All-American Rotisserie Chicken Dinner: Quick & Easy Recipes to Dress Up Your Store-Bought Bird
Cooking and storing proteins in a dorm room can be difficult. There’s an easy ingredient available at most grocery store delis and warehouse stores: the rotisserie chicken. While students can eat the chicken as-is or in simple sandwiches, The All-American Rotisserie Chicken Dinner Cookbook features recipes including: buffalo chicken dip, quick and easy chicken enchiladas, chicken and green bean casserole, tamale pie, chicken fried rice, barbecue chicken pizza, chicken and quinoa veggie bowl, chimichangas and easy sides—all made with a rotisserie chicken as a protein base.
10. The One-Pan College Cookbook: 80 Easy Recipes for Quick, Good Food
One pan, one student. College students have limited space for everything including pots and pans. This cookbook is all about easy, nutritious one-pot meals perfect for dorms, plus knife skills and seasoning tips. These 80 one-pot meals don’t have to be one-hit wonders—college students can take them along to their first homes where they have more than one pan.
11. The College Vegan Cookbook: 145 Affordable, Healthy & Delicious Plant-Based Recipes
Finding vegan options on or around a college campus can be limited. When salad or vegetables may be the only thing a student finds, The College Vegan Cookbook is a great way to eat vegan on a budget and in a dorm room. This cookbook features 145 vegan recipes made for college life including simple and yummy options like blueberry oat muffins, ramen noodle bowls, barbecue cauliflower wraps and microwave brownie mug cakes—all on a budget and made with college dorm appliances and pantries.
12. The 5 Ingredient College Cookbook: Easy, Healthy Recipes for the Next Four Years & Beyond
More than 100 affordable recipes with around five ingredients each, for hungry college students with not very much money? Yes, please! Yummy recipes include favorites like French toast, enchiladas, Greek pita sandwiches, and Thai chicken ramen. But, this cookbook doesn’t stop there, it also features kitchen basics. Be aware that it doesn’t have pictures and that the five ingredient guideline is not always accurate; however, this cookbook can still be a great option for beginning dorm cooks.
13. The Everything College Cookbook, 300 Easy and Budget-Friendly Recipes for Beginning Cooks
While it may feel like college requires students to learn everything all at once—from laundry to getting to class—this Everything College cookbook has everything recipe-wise. Simple, beginner and budget are keywords this cookbook addresses. Everything from paleo to vegan to healthy options alongside all of the college favorites—all made in a dorm room with limited resources and appliances. Um, 300 recipes in one cookbook? That’s the kind of bargain college shoppers and eaters are looking for.
14. The Everything Gluten-Free College Cookbook
Having a simple gluten-free cookbook like The Everything Gluten-Free College Cookbook can be a great way to still access gluten-free options. Some reviews mention that there aren’t pictures to guide cooking—something to consider if students are more visual learners. The cookbook offers solid gluten-free recipes; some readers have kept this on their bookshelf well beyond college. Recipes include options like banana chocolate chip scones, cinnamon raisin french toast, cheesiest macaroni and cheese, curried chicken salad, Mexican quesadillas, chewy granola bars, microwave shrimp scampi, ginger-orange chicken breast, molten lava dark chocolate cake and soft gingersnap cookies. With 300 recipes, this gluten-free cookbook fills a much-needed segment of dorm cooking.
15. 5 Ingredient Crock Pot Cookbook for Beginners: 1000 Easy and Mouthwatering Recipes for Everyday Crock Pot Cooking
Pack a Crock Pot for your student’s dorm, and include this cookbook. The one-pot meals with simple ingredients and instructions can be a staple for students in small spaces. Because eating isn’t all about the meal, the cookbook also includes tips and tricks, care of slow cookers, and what foods work best in a slow cooker. Add slow cooker liners for easy clean up and students will be sending home cooked meal smells down the dorm hallway in no time.
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