I really don't want to be the college kid to live off of pizza and ramen so I turn to my chefs and brilliant thinkers and hope to learn from your experiences.
What food got you through college? And please... no Spam, really, I can't eat it.
I went to college in the Pocono Mountains of PA back in... 1492!?! WAY before microwave or mini-fridge became the norm in a dorm room. Had a "kitchen" in basement with stove, fridge, sink and a few very basic utensils and pots/pans. It was always GROSS!! If we didn't eat in dining hall, we'd use a hot pot to heat canned stuff up. OR we'd use a HIGHLY taboo thing called a "stinger"... metal coil to submerge in liquid... got screaming hot in seconds.
I'm currently in college myself, so I can relate If you're cooking for roommates see if they will split grocery costs with you. My roommate and I set aside a day once every week or two and go grocery shopping together and just ask that they split the cost in half (and then me being the math major tells them what that is). Try to find ads for your local grocery stores they usually have great deals, our grocery store (HEB) has whats called weekly meal deals, where you buy one or two things at a reasonable price you get a ton of other stuff that goes great with it free. We usually buy whatever those are, and then scan to see what meat is on sale. We found T-Bones for 2 bucks a pound once! they are currently in our freezer. Which brings me to the next part, if you find things on sale stock up! soup was on sale the other day... I bought 10 cans. Why? because next time I go it will be double the cost. Like someone said above buy meats on sale. freeze them.
The major thing that kills college students is don't be afraid of off brands. They are usually just as good as the big name brand foods but usually a lot cheaper, that really adds up.
Also if no meat is on sale, chicken, always go with chicken and pasta, it's cheap and versatile.
And don't knock spam til you slice it up cook in on a skillet and put it on some bread with mayo or bbq sauce.
Good luck and good eatings!
If you have a Costco or Sam's nearby, they can be a lifesaver! I had some friends in college who split the membership cost between the 4 of them, and stocked up on basics there - meat, bread, rice, flour, milk, etc. With two parents with crazy commutes as a kid, I grew up with a deep appreciation of the big deep freezer. Whenever you cook anything that you can freeze, make WAY more than you could possibly eat, get a bunch of freezer/microwave/dishwasher-safe plastic containers, and freeze meal sized portions. (how many people you have to serve at a meal determines what size you should use) Even if you do this just once a week, or as your budget permits, you can quickly build up a wide variety of thaw-and-serve meals that are tasty, nutritious, and fast. Buying that kind of high quantity, especially in meat, can feel expensive at first, but in the long run it will save you money - and sanity! Once you're not having to buy everything to cook fresh every day, your shopping costs come down. We usually have a few containers of nearly a dozen dishes down there to choose from at any one time. When hurricane Sandy came through, we lost everything in our freezer and had to start over, and it took us about a month and a half of one or two jumbo batches a week to restock.
Now, as to what to make to fill that freezer? Soups work well, but you said you weren't a fan. If you can stand stews, they work well. Many casseroles freeze well, as long as they aren't too heavy on cheese. Stroganoff was a PA Dutch recipe I grew up with, and dishes like that freeze well. Taco or fajita fillings will often be ok, though you might want to toss them on the stove to reheat instead of using a microwave. Surprisingly, lasagna freezes and reheats VERY well. Good ol' southern pulled pork is a great one: make it overnight in a slowcooker, shred, add sauce, toss back in the slowcooker, feast, then freeze the leftovers; add a bit more sauce when reheating to keep it moist. If you don't mind the texture change, you can even make and freeze batches of rice to save more time - if you're pouring something saucy over it, the kids usually won't notice. If you've got a pasta sauce recipe you like, especially one with a protein cooked in, that freezes well, just be careful with reheating, as the tomatoes can destroy the plastic they're stored in.