For us college students, efficiency is key. Our schedules are busy and our wallets are empty. Stress remains high even when our energy is low or our hangovers are agonizing. Time flies by so fast we have to sprint to keep up with it.

So, it only makes sense that sometimes, as hard-working, ambitious young minds, we have to cut some corners. In an ideal world, we’d make all our deadlines and never miss a lecture. But shit happens, and sometimes, at 10 p.m. the night before an exam that you’ve barely studied for, you have to take a little shortcut and beg your friend for their study guide in your time of need.

I like to think of “easy mac” as the meal equivalent to that study shortcut. It’s quick, cost-efficient and time-saving, with the likelihood of decent to delicious results. While it may not be as good as your grandma’s secret recipe, it gets the job done  and has the potential to work out pretty well.

Photo by Amanda Shulman

Since I myself am a huge proponent of the instant satisfaction that easy mac provides, I took the liberty of making this easy—or should I say cheesy—way out even easier. After sampling six different options that I found at the Penn Bookstore and Gourmet Grocer in Commons (thank you, bursar), I became the first person to overdose on microwavable mac-and-cheese.

Just kidding. But to be honest, I did feel a little nauseous after.

Here are the results of my strenuous research on which mac is the easiest and the cheesiest.

Photo by Amanda Shulman

WINNER: Kraft Original

Kraft ain’t no rookie. The classic mac-and-cheese flavor, combined with a texture so perfectly creamy you won’t believe it was created in three minutes, is what makes this easy mac the clear winner. It’s also subtle with the cheese for those who appreciate minimalism in their microwavables.

Runner-up: Kraft Triple Cheese

Two for two. Kraft’s spin-off flavor has a richer consistency and a more prominent cheese flavor, which are qualities I enjoy in my macaroni. It isn’t specified anywhere exactly what cheeses are at play here (a tad sketchy), but whatever they did—it worked.

Photo by Amanda Shulman

I also tasted Velveeta’s microwavable option—which used cheese sauce instead of powder—but it was slightly too milky to be enjoyable. For some reason, the three Annie’s mac-and-cheeses that I tried were also not up to par, although in the past they’ve been better. The rice pasta kind did not cook well and the white cheddar-flavored mac was slightly bland, but the real-aged cheddar was still pretty good if you prefer organic options.

I hope this compilation of my mac-and-cheese knowledge will be of use to anyone in need of an easy solution to their rumbling tummies, jam-packed schedule and depleted bank accounts. Keep it cheesy, my friends.

Photo by Amanda Shulman