As college students, a lot of our lives revolve around food – whether it is a late night snack, a quick breakfast that is eaten while running out the door, or the classic pizza night, we eat a lot of food.  As college students, we are also always short on cash and can’t always afford the highest quality or healthiest food options.  Therefore, there are certain foods that every college student should have at the ready for delicious grub, anytime.

Peanut butter is one of my favorite things to have in the house because it is a crucial building block to all sorts of great meal and snack ideas.  Spread it on toast, bread, crackers, or celery.  Dip apples or bananas in it for a healthy snack. Use it for the base of a Thai sauce for noodles or chicken.  If you want to keep on the nut butter flavor but want something a little different, I find that almond butter is just as (if not more) delicious and just as versatile.

Yogurt is a staple in my fridge.  It is a great addition to breakfast or an easy snack.  Add it to a smoothie to make a creamy and portable snack on the go.  Freeze it to make a cold treat to help you cool off in the summer heat.  Make a yogurt parfait by adding your favorite fruit and granola toppings.  There are so many varieties of yogurt these days that it is sure to please any palate.  And if you want to try something new, try Greek yogurt.

Fruit is always in my fridge simply because it is so portable and easy to eat.  Always keep staples like apples, oranges, bananas, and pears around in the fridge for a grab and go, no prep needed snack.  Naturally sweet, fruit can hold over a sugar craving while still be healthy for you.  Add bananas to smoothies or to peanut butter sandwiches.  Put a stick through a banana, cover it in chocolate sauce, and then freeze it for a delicious and relatively healthy snack.  Don’t just think of the staple fruits either – branch out to things like berries and apricots when they are in season and on sale.

Soup is a big staple in my cupboard and I probably eat it for lunch at least twice a week.  Soup is wonderful because it is cheap, often comes from a can, and takes little effort to prepare.  You can make soup better by adding more of your own vegetables, meat, and spices to it.  You can put it in a thermos and eat it on the go.  It is perfect for warming you up on a cold day or for comforting you when you get sick.  If you get something like cream of chicken or cream of mushroom, you can easily add it to chicken to create a quick and delicious meal.  You can even spice up ramen noodles with a little herb action (I suggest adding lemon grass and spinach to add flavor and a tad bit of nutrition).

Rice and pasta are two items that I always have a large supply and diverse variety of in my cupboards.  Both options are cheap, filing, and super versatile.  Rice can be flavored in so many different ways – use some sort of stock (like chicken or vegetable broth) instead of water to add instant flavor.  Add citrus juices and some garlic for a tropical flavored side dish.  Make brown rice for a healthier alternative to white rice.  Rice-a-Roni is cheap, delicious, and can easily be made in a microwave with just some butter and water.  Pasta comes in so many shapes and sizes these days that you are sure to find something you like.  Use a premade sauce like marinara or alfredo to make a quick and easy dinner.  Don’t be afraid to do some experimenting and make your own sauces to come up with a delicious meal – think of how impressed your date would be if you made a delicious dinner (and they won’t even know how cheap it is!).

What food staples are always around in your kitchen?  Do you have any favorite and cheap recipes to share?

[Photo Courtesy of Flickr User Eleazarteodoro]