14 Easy Vegetarian Recipes for College Students

Easy as it is to get take-out these days, there’s nothing like a home-cooked dinner. It’s likely to be cheaper and more nutritious than eating out, plus cooking is super satisfying. That said, cooking requires both time and experience, something that college students (and plenty of other folks) may not have. Here you’ll find 14 easy vegetarian recipes for college students. These are simple, meatless recipes, most of which are just three or four ingredients. They lean on a combination of healthier convenience foods and fresh vegetables that add up to tasty meals.

14 Easy Vegetarian Recipes for College Students

Before we get into these quick and easy recipes, here are a few tips that may come in handy:

  • I gathered these ingredients from Trader Joe’s, since it a fairly affordable place to shop for groceries. Since not everyone has access to TJs, I’ve included enough detail so you can find similar ingredients at other markets.
  • Home cooking is all about making food the way you like it, so do that here. Swap in a different vegetable if you don’t like mushrooms, for example, or skip the cheese if it doesn’t sit well with you, or add more hot sauce is spicy food is your thing.
  • Adjust the portion sizes to suit your appetite. A six foot tall athlete is going to have different nutrition needs than a five foot tall computer science student. You do you.
  • Rely on your fridge and freezer, since cooking for one often means leftovers. Most of these recipes will keep well in a covered container in the fridge for at least a few days (and many are very freezer friendly).
  • If you want to take your cooking game up a notch, check out PREP: The Essential College Cookbook.

1. Tomato Soup with Cheesy Pesto Bread

Tomato soup and more Easy Vegetarian Recipes for College Students

Preheat the oven (or toaster oven) to 400 degrees. Cut a piece of baguette that’s about the size you’d use for a sandwich. Cut in half lengthwise. Spread the cut side of the bread lightly with pesto and top with grated Mozzarella (like you’re topping pizza). Put bread on a baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted and the cheese is melted and bubbling. While the bread toasts, pour 1 to 2 cups of soup into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until warm. Pour into a bowl and enjoy the pesto cheese bread on the side.

  • Once opened, the soup will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. For longer storage, you can put the soup, right in the box, in the freezer.

2. Miso Dumpling Soup

Miso soup plus other Easy Vegetarian Recipes for College Students

Pour 2 cups miso broth into a small saucepan and set over high heat. When the broth boils, add 8 dumplings straight from the frozen bag. Continue to cook until the broth comes back to a boil and dumplings are done, a few more minutes. Remove from heat, add 2 big handfuls of spinach to the broth, and stir. Ladle into bowls, top with a little spoonful of chili crisp, and stir (add more if you want it spicier).

  • Leftovers are best eaten the next day (the dumplings get mushy if stored too long).
  • Makes 2 servings.

3. Egg and Soy Chorizo Tacos

easy vegetarian recipes for college students including egg and soy chorizo tacos

Heat a small non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium. Add a few teaspoons of olive oil and swirl the pan so the oil coats the bottom. When the pan and oil are hot, crumble a few tablespoons of soy chorizo into the pan. Sauté for a minute or two. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 eggs and add a pinch of salt. Pour into the pan and scramble the eggs with the chorizo, stirring occasionally with a spoon until the eggs are just cooked. Heat 2 tortillas either in a microwave or on the stove until warm. Divide the scrambled eggs over the tortillas. Cut 4 slices of avocado (cutting tips here) and arrange them over the eggs (see here for tips on cutting an avocado).

  • Add hot sauce, such as Cholula or Tabasco Jalapeño sauce, if desired.
  • Add a handful of baby spinach to the pan when the eggs are nearly cooked.
  • Makes 2 tacos.

4. Warm Lentil Feta Salad

Lentil Salad plus more Easy Vegetarian Recipes for College Students

Empty one-pound of cooked lentils into a medium bowl and microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes. Stir in two big handfuls arugula and the 11-ounce jar of cracked olive salad (or 1/2 cup of olive tapenade). Crumble about 1/3 cup feta into the salad and stir again. Squeeze the juice of half of a lemon into the salad if you have it.

  • Leftovers will keep for 4 or 5 days.
  • Makes 4 to 6 servings.

5. Baked Spinach Tortellini

spinach tortellini and other easy vegetarian recipes for college students

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Fill a medium pot with water and a few teaspoons of salt. Set over high heat. When the water boils, add a big handful of broccoli florets and cook for 2 minutes. Add the package of tortellini and continue to cook another 2 to 3 minutes until the broccoli and tortellini are done. Pour the tortellini and broccoli into a colander in the sink. Drain well. Transfer the tortellini and broccoli into a casserole dish or baking pan (8 by 8 inches should work). Pour enough tomato sauce over the tortellini and broccoli so it’s nicely coated (stir it around to coat), probably about 2/3 of the jar. Scatter about 1 cup Mozzarella over the top. Put into the oven and bake until the cheese is bubbling, about 20 minutes.

  • Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
  • Reheat in the microwave or oven.
  • Makes about 3 servings.

6. Kimchi Fried Rice

kimchi fried rice and other easy vegetarian recipes for college students

Microwave 1 packet of brown rice according to package directions (2 cups cooked rice). Put 1/4 cup kimchi on a cutting board and chop the kimchi into small pieces. Set a medium/large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil, such as canola oil or olive oil, and let it heat up for about 30 seconds, tipping the pan so it coats the bottom. Add 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (or another favorite chopped or sliced vegetable) and sauté, stirring it around in the pan from time to time, until the mushrooms are tender and taste good, about 6 minutes. Add the rice and cook for a few minutes, stirring it a few times. Crack 2 eggs in a cereal bowl and use a fork to whisk them well. Pour the eggs over the rice and add the kimchi. Let the eggs settle into the rice for about 30 seconds and then stir. Keep stirring from time to time until the egg is cooked and everything is mixed evenly. Remove from heat. Taste and add a few pinches of salt or a teaspoon or 2 of soy sauce until it tastes good.

  • Leftovers will keep for a few days.
  • Makes 1 to 2 servings.

7. Meatless BBQ Sandwich

Heat the Barbecued Jackfruit according to package directions. Warm 1 hamburger bun in a toaster. Toss 1/2 cup coleslaw with a few teaspoons of the dressing in the package. Put half the jackfruit on the bottom bun, top with the coleslaw, cover, and enjoy.

  • Leftover jackfruit will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Store leftover coleslaw in the fridge and enjoy as a salad on another day (add 1 to 2 chopped hard boiled eggs for a main dish or a handful of chopped apple for a tasty side dish).

8. Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadilla

Wash the sweet potato well. Use a little knife to poke a few holes into it. Cook on high in the microwave or in a 425 degree oven until tender enough to easily slice into the center. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the sweet potato, but figure 5 to 10 minutes in the microwave and 40 to 50 minutes in the oven. Cut the sweet potato in half. Scoop out the flesh of half the sweet potato and mash it over the surface of one half of a tortilla. Drain the beans in a colander and scatter a few tablespoons over the sweet potato. Cover everything with grated cheese. Put a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add a few teaspoons oil to the pan. After 30 seconds, put the tortilla in the pan and cook until the bottom is crisp and the cheese is melted. Fold the plain side of the tortilla over the cheese side. Slide onto a cutting board and cut in half.

  • Makes 1 quesadilla
  • Transfer the drained beans to a container and store in the fridge, where they will keep for about 5 days.
  • Store leftover sweet potato in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave and top with a pat of butter, salt, and pepper for a tasty snack or side dish.

9. Avocado Toast with Everything Spiced Egg

avocado toast with everything egg

Put 1 slice bread in the toaster until lightly toasted. Cut a ripe avocado in half (here’s a how-to). Use a spoon to scoop the flesh of the avocado onto the toast. Use a fork to smash the avocado over the surface of the toast. Sprinkle the Everything Bagel Seasoning generously over the avocado. Heat a small non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add a few teaspoons of olive oil and swirl the pan so the oil coats the bottom. When the pan and oil are hot, crack 1 egg in the pan. Cook the egg on one side until the white is firm along the bottom. Use a spatula to flip the egg to the second side. Cook until the white is firm and the yolk is as soft as you like it. Transfer the egg to the top of the toast and add another few shakes of Everything Seasoning.

  • If you have a lemon, squeeze a little juice over the avocado before you add the seasoning.
  • Makes 1 slice.

10. Chopped Miso Salad with Terikyaki Tofu

Empty the salad kit into a large bowl. Put the tofu on a cutting board and cut into bite-size cubes. Add to the salad. Add about half the dressing packet and (if you have it) a tablespoons of rice vinegar or another type of vinegar. Toss well. Add more dressing/vinegar as needed. Transfer half the salad to a bowl and top with half the crispy cashews/seeds/chow mein noodle mix.

  • Store leftovers in the fridge where it will keep for a few days.
  • Makes 2 servings.

11. Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles

For one serving, fill a medium pot with water and a few teaspoons salt. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. When the water boils, add 4 oz spaghetti (1/4 of a standard package). While the spaghetti cooks, in a medium bowl, put 2 tablespoons creamy salted peanut butter, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar (or another type of vinegar), 1 tablespoon water, and 1 teaspoon sriracha. Use a fork to stir vigorously until smooth. If you have any crunchy raw vegetables, such as cucumbers, celery, red peppers, snap peas, or carrots, chop 1/2 cup. When the pasta is done (read package directions for details) pour into a colander in the sink and drain well. Add the hot pasta to the bowl with the peanut sauce (plus any vegetables). Stir well. Add a splash more water if it’s too sticky.

  • Add more sriracha if you want it spicier.
  • Makes 1 serving.

12. Lavash Hummus Pinwheels

Slice or chop 1/3 of a bell pepper. Slice or chop 1 Persian cucumber. Warm the lavash in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Spread a layer of hummus over the surface of the lavash. Arrange the peppers, cucumbers, and a handful of grated carrots over the hummus. Roll up the lavash along the shorter edge. Cut it into 5 or 6 pinwheels.

  • You can use a large whole-wheat tortilla instead of lavash.
  • Lavash is an excellent base for a pizza (go here for a recipe). You can also freeze what you don’t use.
  • Enjoy leftover cucumbers, pepper, and carrots for snacks and salads.
  • Makes 1 serving

13. Vegetarian Chickpea Cauliflower Curry

Cauliflower curry and other easy vegetarian recipes for college students

Fill a medium saucepan with water and a few teaspoons salt and set over high heat. When the water boils, add cauliflower florets (about 12 ounces). Boil until the cauliflower is tender enough that you can cut it in half with relative ease, about 6 minutes. While the cauliflower cooks, pour the chickpeas into a colander, rinse with water, and leave it to drain in the sink. When the cauliflower is done, add it to the colander with the chickpeas to drain. Transfer the chickpeas and cauliflower back to the saucepan and add an 11-ounce bottle of Thai-style curry sauce (you can also use a jar of Indian-style curry/simmer sauce that’s about the same size). Set over medium heat and cook, stirring regularly, until the curry is warm and the flavors come together, 5 to 10 minutes. While the curry cooks, follow the package directions to cook one packet of rice. Spoon some of the rice into a bowl, add a few big spoonfuls of curry, and enjoy.

  • Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
  • Makes enough curry for about 4 servings.

14. Pasta Marinara with Broccoli

For one serving of pasta, fill a medium saucepan with water, add a few teaspoons salt, and set on the stove over high heat. When the water boils, add about 4 ounces of pasta. Read the package to see how long the pasta should cook. About 3 minutes before the pasta is done, add a handful of broccoli. When pasta and broccoli are done, drain well in a colander in the sink. Put pasta and broccoli back into the cooking pot. Add enough pasta sauce to coat everything nicely. Transfer to a serving bowl and add Parmesan if you like.

  • You can use any shape or variety of pasta for this recipe.
  • Store leftover pasta sauce in the fridge for up to 1 week or put the bottle in the freezer for longer storage.
  • Makes 1 serving.

For more easy, healthy, budget-friendly recipes, check out my cookbook for college students.

Prep The Cookbook

If you like these easy vegetarian recipes for college students, check out:

12 Quick and Healthy Breakfast Ideas

10 3-Ingredient Lunches

Advice for navigating the college cafeteria

12 College Care Package Treats

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11.27.2023 at12:38 PM #


These are great! I have been meaning to get my reluctant teen & tween helping more in the kitchen, and I just had them each pick a recipe from this list to start with.

11.27.2023 at12:38 PM #

Katie Morford

Perfect! That’s a great way to approach getting kids to cook.

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