Student Accommodation Blog

Eating Well for Less - Cheap Student Meals

The student lifestyle doesn’t leave much room for eating well. Rather than surviving on 2-minute noodles, learning how to make cheap student meals will help you stay healthy while you study. 

Not sure where to start when it comes to preparing cheap meals for uni students? Learn how to cook like a pro (without blowing up your budget) with these tips and recipes. 

Meal Prep Tips  

Getting takeaway for dinner every night may be tempting, but meal prep is a much healthier and affordable habit. To avoid spending all your rent money on pizza, here’s how to save time and cash by preparing meals at home: 

  • Freeze leftovers – Get into the habit of preparing big meals on the weekend and freezing the leftovers, so you can come home and defrost dinner in a matter of minutes. 
  • Shop around for cheap produce – Buy your fruit and veggies at a local farmers’ market to cut down on the cost of fresh produce. 
  • Stock up on basics – Buy staple items like rice, pasta and tinned tomatoes in bulk. Your pantry may look a little crowded, but you’ll save lots of money in the long run. 
  • Pre-chop vegetables – If you’ve got a few hours to spare between classes, pre-chop all the vegetables you’ll be using for dinner that night. 

Your cooking skills will improve with practice, so don’t be disheartened if you have the occasional culinary disaster. The more often you prepare meals at home, the more confident you’ll become in the kitchen. 

Healthy Recipes for Uni Students 

Get inspired to make cheap healthy meals for college students with these budget-friendly recipes: 

Spaghetti Bolognese 

Nothing beats a hearty bowl of spaghetti bolognese for dinner. The ingredients can be purchased for around $10 and you’ll have leftovers to last at least a few days. For health-conscious students, this meal comes packed with protein and iron from the meat and fibre from the pasta. 

What you’ll need: 

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion 
  • 2 cloves of garlic 
  • 2 x 400g tins diced tomatoes
  • Mince (choose from beef, veal and pork, or turkey depending on your personal preference) 
  • 400g pasta 
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning


  1. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the mince and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the mince until it’s a dark brown colour (make sure it’s cooked all the way through, but be careful not to burn it). Once browned, transfer the mince to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add another tablespoon of oil to the saucepan you browned the mince in. Add the onions and fry them until they turn translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Pour the mince and any juices back into the saucepan.
  4. Add the tomatoes to the pan and stir the mixture. 
  5. Heat a large saucepan of water and add a pinch of salt. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Once cooked, drain and add to the pan with the bolognese sauce. Mix well and serve.

To make this recipe even healthier, add some sautéed mushrooms, carrots or zucchini. 

Simple Veggie Curry 

This curry recipe is perfect for vegetarians or if you’re just trying to squeeze more veggies into your diet. It’s filled with good stuff and will leave you feeling full for ages. 

What you’ll need: 

  • 2-3 red washed potatoes 
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 brown onion 
  • 4 cloves garlic 
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Small piece of ginger 
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 can peas drained
  • 1 can coconut milk 
  • Rice 


  1. Chop the potatoes into chunks and cover them with water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and let the potatoes cook until they’re tender (don’t let them get too mushy). Once cooked, drain the water and set the potatoes aside. 
  2. Using the same pot, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add diced onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until the onion turns translucent. 
  3. Stir in the cumin, cayenne, curry powder, salt, pepper and diced ginger. Make sure all the spices are combined before adding the tomatoes, chickpeas, and peas.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk and bring to a gentle boil before adding the potatoes back in. 
  5. Reduce heat to low and cook everything for 3-5 minutes before serving with the cooked rice. 

Go easy on the spices if you’re not a fan of hot food. 

Whipping up healthy meals is easy at UniLodge, as all our student accommodation buildings come with modern cooking facilities.

Browse UniLodge’s locations in Australia and New Zealand to find the perfect home away from home.