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Inside Eats: Try these tasty recipes for some easy, affordable baking

Bake your cake and eat it too with these simple but delicious recipes that are great for college students! – Photo by Kowalski's Markets / Faebook

For many college students with an apartment or access to a residence hall kitchen, it's the first time they're able to have a little culinary freedom. Despite how busy our schedules can get, baking can be a tasty and therapeutic hobby. 

Although a lot of us aspiring bakers who love "The Great British Bakeoff" may dream of spending hours baking the most complex cakes and pastries, who has the time? The constant whirlwind of classes, assignments and our social lives keep us from spending too much time in the kitchen.

For anyone who loves baking or wants to get into the hobby, it's essential to have recipes that not only taste like they're fresh from a bakery but are also time-efficient and cost-effective. 

Here is a list of easy baking recipes that are budget-friendly and perfect for students with jam-packed schedules.

Peanut butter and jelly thumbprint cookies

This simple but tasty recipe is perfect for any baker who loves the taste of a childhood classic: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It also doesn't require too many ingredients or equipment (you can use hand or electric mixers), so it's the perfect quick, low-maintenance recipe!


  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • Your favorite jelly


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. In a mixing bowl, mix the peanut butter, softened butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until smooth.

  3. Stir in the egg and vanilla extract until combined.

  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and a pinch of salt. Gradually add this dry mixture to the wet mixture, mixing until you have a doughy consistency.

  5. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet.

  6. Use your thumb or the back of a teaspoon to create an indentation in the center of each cookie.

  7. Fill each indentation with your favorite fruit jam or jelly.

  8. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies are golden around the edges.

  9. Keep the cookies on the baking sheet for a few minutes to cool before transferring them to a rack to cool.

Nutella-stuffed banana muffins

You really can't go wrong when combining chocolate, banana and a nutty flavor. These muffins are perfect for dessert, or if you want to do a little meal-planning, you can make a batch and have breakfast for the week!


  • 2 mashed bananas

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 cup Nutella


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F, and fill a muffin tin with paper liners.

  2. In a bowl, mix mashed bananas, sugar, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla extract together.

  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until just mixed.

  5. Fill each muffin cup 1/3 of the way with batter, then add a small spoonful of Nutella.

  6. Top off the muffin cups with more batter until they are 2/3 full.

  7. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

  8. Allow the muffins to cool for a few minutes or they may fall apart!

Lemon brownies

Lemon brownies are a great recipe for making something a little creative and different while still keeping it simple. If you're not that big a fan of chocolate but you like the mouth feel of a brownie, lemon flavoring makes for the perfect substitution. You can always substitute bottled lemon juice if you'd like, but fresh lemons really make this dessert citrus perfection.


  • 1 cup softened, unsalted butter 

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest (2 to 3 lemons)

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a deep baking pan.

  2. Zest and juice the lemons. Set aside.

  3. In a mixing bowl, mix together the softened butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Then slowly add the eggs one at a time, and finally, add in the lemon juice and zest.

  4. In another bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt.

  5. Gradually add this dry mixture to the wet mixture, mixing until a smooth consistency is created.

  6. Spread the batter in the baking pan, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

  7. Allow the lemon brownies to cool completely in the pan.

Caramel tres leches cake

This recipe is great as it allows you to have a little fun with baking, and it'll give you a break from all the different ingredients as you can just get a boxed cake mix for this one. You can pick up whatever brand you like from the store, but if you're unsure where to start, Betty Crocker is a classic that won't break the bank.


  • 1 box yellow cake mix (plus ingredients listed on the box)

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk

  • 1 can evaporated milk

  • 1/2 cup whole milk

  • 1 cup caramel sauce


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a deep baking pan.

  2. Follow instructions to mix together cake mix and other ingredients listed on the box, and pour into the baking pan, bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

  3. In a mixing bowl, mix the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and whole milk.

  4. Take cake out of oven, and poke an even amount of holes into it.

  5. Pour the tres leches mixture over the warm cake.

  6. Cover the cake with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours.

  7. Drizzle caramel sauce on the cake once cooled.

Some other important tips to remember when baking on a budget are to look for generic or store-brand ingredients, find discounts or coupons for ingredients at the grocery store and buy staple ingredients in bulk.

Baking doesn't have to be time-consuming or expensive — it's meant to bring a little joy into your kitchen. So throw on your apron, start an Instacart order and bake your next sweet treat!

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