Make dinner for a week with $25: for broke, hungry college students on a tight budget


Cory Thaxton

foodCollege students seriously don’t have the time or the money to splurge on expensive meals. Luckily for them, there are creative recipes that are fast, easy and cheap. It takes the guesswork out of cooking to give a week’s worth of awesome dinners. With just $25 and a trip to Walmart, make these five ridiculously easy gourmet meals. Yes, this is for real. The best part? All of the ingredients can be used in their entirety.


Black Bean Burger and Fries

This black bean burger is crispy on the outside and flavorful on the inside, and the fries are cooked in peanut oil – so they taste freakin’ awesome.

Feel free to kick up the spiciness of the burger by throwing in some extra hot sauce or cayenne pepper.


½ can black beans, rinsed and drained

½ can corn, rinsed and drained

¼ cup yellow onion, grated

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup bread crumbs

¼ loaf focaccia

1 Russet potato

½ Roma tomato, sliced

Salad mix

Burger condiments




Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 450ºF.
  • In a blender or food processor, blend black beans, corn, onion, garlic, bread crumbs, salt and pepper until just combined.

Form two burger patties. Set aside.

Rinse potato and chop into thin fries.

Toss fries with oil, salt and pepper. Arrange on baking sheet
Bake fries for 30 minutes, shaking the pan half way through.
While fries are baking, grill the burger patties. Heat oil over medium heat, and grill burgers for 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway through. If you don’t have a stovetop, you can bake the burgers at 350ºF for 20 minutes.

Tuesday:  Chicken Fajita Salad

How do you make a salad                     

taste good?

Top it with chicken, peppers, corn, black beans and more.

This salad comes together with minimal effort and will leave you very full and happy.


1 chicken breast

½ green bell pepper, sliced

¼ yellow onion, sliced

½ bag salad mix

1 Roma tomato

2 garlic cloves, sliced

½ can corn, rinsed and drained

¼ can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup brown rice

2/3 cup water

Cooking oil




  1. Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 350ºF.
  2. Slice the green bell pepper and onion into strips.
  3. Cut chicken breast into 4-6 thin pieces. Then place veggies and chicken onto a baking tray. Top with sliced garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and veggies are browned.
  4. While the chicken and veggies are cooking, combine 1/3 cup rice with 2/3 cup water and microwave for 4 minutes. Stir. Then microwave again for 4 minutes. Repeat until rice is fully cooked, or follow instructions on the back of package.
  5. Once the rice is done, warm up the corn and beans in the microwave for a minute or until desired temperature. Then you’ll be ready to plate
Use the salad greens as a base and place rice on top. Add the corn and bean mixture and then the chicken and veggies. Dice up some tomatoes for color and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday: Focaccia Pizza

Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread product similar in style and texture to pizza doughs.

It may be topped with herbs or other ingredients.

This is the simplest, tastiest, and prettiest dinner out there.

And you don’t have to limit yourself to cheese – got some leftover peppers or chicken?

Throw them on there for a new version of this simple dish.


¼ loaf focaccia

3 tablespoons tomato paste

¼ yellow onion, diced

4-6 basil leaves, minced

3 tablespoons water

½ tub mozzarella, drained




Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 350ºF.

2.Slice focaccia in half and lay on baking tray.

  1. In a bowl mix together tomato paste, diced onion and half of the chopped basil. Add water one teaspoon at a time until desired sauce consistency is reached.
  2. Spread tomato sauce over focaccia. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper
  3. Top with semi-thick slices of mozzarella and the rest of the chopped basil for flavor.
  4. Bake for about 10 minutes or until cheese has melted. Then slice into triangles and serve warm.

Thursday:  Caprese Chicken

A traditional caprese is made with fresh slices of mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and basil.

Where everything in a caprese salad is traditionally raw, here the mozzarella and tomatoes are cooked.

Melted mozzarella on top of juicy tomatoes, perfectly cooked chicken, a bed of rice and fresh greens.

This dish is a heartier version of a Caprese salad.


1 chicken breast

1 Roma tomato, sliced

½ tub mozzarella, drained

5-6 basil leaves, minced

3-4 garlic cloves, sliced

1/3 cup brown rice




1.Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to at 350˚F.

2.Place the boneless chicken breast onto a greased pan or foil. Place the garlic cloves on top. Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken starts to brown.

  1. While the chicken is in the oven, combine the rice with 2/3 cup of water and microwave for 4 minutes. Stir. Then microwave again for 4 minutes. Repeat until rice is fully cooked, or follow instructions on the back of package.
  2. Once the chicken starts to brown, take it out of the oven and remove the garlic cloves. Then top it with basil, tomato and mozzarella. Put it back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the cheese has melted.
  3. Place a handful of lettuce on the plate and top with rice and then the caprese chicken. Serve warm.

Friday:  Stuffed Peppers

These stuffed peppers are filled with black beans and rice.

Everything is better stuffed, right?

These red peppers are full of flavor and hardly take any time to bake.

If you’re not a fan of red peppers, sub them out for green or yellow.


1 red bell pepper

1 cup precooked rice

½ green bell pepper, diced

½ Roma tomato, diced

¼ yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed




Preheat oven (or toaster oven) at 350˚F.

  1. Cut the top of the red pepper off. Then cut it in half and remove the veins and seeds.
  1. Chop, dice, and mince the onion, tomato, green pepper and garlic respectively.
  1. Combine the tomato, onion, garlic and green pepper in a measuring cup with the precooked rice and black beans.
  1. Fill each pepper half with the rice mixture. Then cook them in the oven for about 40 minutes, checking periodically until the pepper is soft.
  2. Once cooked, remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes. Then plate it up, sprinkle some salt and pepper to taste, and take some insta pics.