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Delicious Budget-Friendly Meals for Students

Looking for cheap, healthy meal inspiration?

Cooking with SNAP presents four delicious and budget-friendly meal ideas for students. Our goal was to make four unique recipes with limited ingredients to save you time and extra trips to the grocery store.

Want to see what we cooked up? Check out this video!

All the recipes shown in this video are also posted below.

Tofu Scramble


  • 2 tbsp oil

  • 1 block firm tofu

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 4 mushrooms, sliced

  • 1-2 tsp each: salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, paprika, turmeric to taste


  1. Press tofu with a paper towel between plates with something heavy on top to remove excess liquid.

Pro tip: Use firm tofu and press it overnight (if you plan ahead) or while you chop the veggies if you're cooking on the fly.

  1. Dice onion, slice mushroom

  2. Heat a large pan over medium heat, add olive oil

  3. Add onions and mushrooms (or alternative veggies)

  4. Saute until softened and sweating

  5. Turn heat up to medium-high, add tofu

  6. Add spices, mix well, let simmer until liquid has cooked off and some of the tofu is crispy

  7. Enjoy with toast, in a burrito, or with a side of fruit.

Modify this recipe to suit your taste:

  • Use any veggies you like (tomatoes, zucchini, pepper, potato, shredded carrot, spinach, kale)

  • Use your favourite spices

  • Get your pan hot enough that some of the pieces get crispy and all the liquid gets cooked out

  • Serve with avocado toast, in a wrap, or with a side of home fries, etc.

Black Bean Casserole


  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed (sub for kidney beans, pinto, mixed beans if you prefer!)

  • 1 green pepper, diced

  • ½ tofu scramble recipe

  • 1 C frozen corn

  • Chopped cilantro (change amount based on preference, I like a lot)

  • ½ large sweet potato, cubed and steamed

  • ½ a jar of salsa of choice

  • Grated cheese, enough to cover top

  • Optional: half a can of diced tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, more peppers, mushrooms, spinach, additional spices.

  • Alternative: Use ground meat in place of one of the jars of beans, simply cook it before adding it to the casserole.


  1. Heat oven to 350 F

  2. Cube sweet potato, cover and steam in microwave for 6-12 minutes (depending on power), until tender

  3. Rinse beans, dice peppers, cilantro (and additional vegges), grate cheese

  4. Dump all ingredients in a large baking dish, mix to combine

  5. Cover top with grated cheese

  6. Bake 30-45 minutes, until the cheese is melty and veggies are soft

  7. Alternative: Make this an enchilada bake by adding a layer of tortillas in between two layers of filling, with cheese sprinkled on top.

  8. Serve with chopped red cabbage, cilantro, plain yogurt, and salsa. OR in a tortilla OR with chips to scoop

Cooking Tip:

If you want to use canned tomatoes instead of salsa, add partially cooked rice to the casserole to help absorb the extra liquid.

Sweet Potato Brownies


  • ½ large sweet potato, steamed and mashed with a fork

  • ¾ C any nut butter, we used peanut butter, alternatives: almond, sun butter

  • ½ C sweetener (Maple syrup, honey, or sugar)

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tbsp vanilla

  • 1 tsp salt (optional: more for the top)

  • ½ C oat flour (use quick oats and blend until fine)

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 C cocoa powder

  • ½ C chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)

  • Optional: chopped walnuts, cranberries


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F

  2. Cube and steam sweet potato, ( roughly 12-15 minutes in the microwave, depending on power.) Mash with a fork.

  3. Add sweet potato, eggs, sweetener, vanilla, nut butter, and salt to a bowl, whisk together with a fork

  4. Add dry ingredients, fold to combine, batter will be thick

  5. Add chocolate chips and other add-ins

  6. Pour batter into a parchment-lined baking dish

  7. Bake for 25-35 minutes, brownies will remain dense and wet

  8. Allow to cool briefly (5-10 minutes) so they hold their shape

  9. Enjoy with a glass of milk or under a scoop of icecream

Cooking Tips:

  • Don’t skimp on the choco chips!

  • Also, it might seem a bit underbaked, but it’s just dense

Black Bean Nachos


  • 3 corn tortillas, cut into triangles

  • 1 serving of the black bean casserole

  • Grated cheese

  • Salsa

  • Optional: plain yogurt, chopped red cabbage, cilantro to serve


  1. Cut up the tortillas, add seasonings and a little bit of cooking oil, bake them at 350 for a few minutes until crispy

  2. Cook down the casserole, smash it with your spatula

  3. Layer chips and casserole, cheese and salsa

  4. Bake for 5 minutes.

  5. Serve and enjoy!

Cooking Tips:

  • Season tortillas however you want

  • Use a toaster oven to save on energy

  • Cook down the casserole and smash it with a fork or a spatula as you go

  • Add lots of cheese and salsa

Hopefully, you found these recipes inspiring. Leave a comment telling us what your go-to cheap and easy meal is, we'd love to hear from you.

And don't forget to follow us on Instagram @snapbrescia and tag us with your own healthy budget-friendly creations!

Thank you for stopping by and have a great day from all of us here at SNAP!

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