Can you really prepare dinner in 5 minutes without having to turn to a microwavable meal? The answer is: it's possible. If you do a little meal prep at the beginning of the week and have simple staples on hand like cooked rice and pasta, chicken, fish, and chopped veggies, cooking becomes so much quicker and easier. Here are some 5-minute dinners that prove that cooking doesn't have to be a chore and that you can actually enjoy something you made yourself. 

1. 3-Ingredient Stir Fry

Sarah Arora

To make this simple but filling meal, heat up a pan with a bit of oil over medium heat. Take tofu or a fully-cooked meat such as rotisserie chicken (as much as you'd like), and add your favorite veggies and sauce (I like teriyaki, sweet and sour, or sesame ginger). Serve on top of a bed of leftover or Minute rice and skip the takeout altogether. 

#SpoonTip: Prepare meat in advance so that this recipe actually takes you five minutes or less. 

2. English Muffin Pizza

pizza, cheese, bread, tomato
Constance Connolly

It takes no more than two minutes to take pretty much any form of bread (French bread, a bagel, or an English muffin are the most common), spread on some tomato sauce, and add any cheese or toppings you'd like. Pop it in the oven until the cheese is melted. Maybe another day, pizza delivery guy.  

3. 'Fancy' Ramen

Sarah Arora

Simmer some bouillon or broth on the stove and add leftover spaghetti, cooked noodles from the dining hall, or even some instant stovetop ramen. Throw in whatever veggies and protein you'd like and enjoy a non-microwavable, fancier take on ramen. What microwave meal?

4. Hummus Bowl

vegetable, pepper, salad, carrot, pasta, chili
Kristine Mahan

I love this Mediterranean place near campus called Naf Naf Grill. Some days, my Naf Naf cravings become even stronger than my Chipotle cravings. Last semester, however, it was often too cold to step out, so I'd make a hummus bowl at home.

A hummus bowl is just like it sounds. You spread some hummus at the bottom of the bowl and add whatever toppings you'd like. My favorite toppings are cucumbers, chicken, and plain yogurt. And don't forget to toast up some pita for optimal dipping.  

5. Cheesy Eggs in a Skillet

Sarah Arora

I firmly believe that we should all attempt to erase the "breakfast food" stigma behind eggs. Eggs are loaded with protein and make the perfect dinner for a long night of studying ahead.

To make an egg skillet, sauté some veggies and/or sausage of your choice over medium heat, make three wells, and crack your eggs in the wells. Sprinkle on some cheese and season the eggs with your favorite blend. Lastly, cover the pan with a plate and turn off the heat. Let the pan sit for 3-4 minutes. Now you have a skillet that looks like it's from a bougie late-night brunch joint. 

6. Spicy Quesadilla

bread, cheese, pizza
Rebecca Simonov

Quesadillas are a two-ingredient classic. All you need is a tortilla and some cheese. Add your cheese in between two tortillas (or one tortilla folded in half) and cook over medium heat. Cook until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is crispy. I always add taco seasoning for a spicy kick and serve it with salsa and/or guac. 

#SpoonTip: Try upgrading your quesadilla with one of these five recipes

7. Cauliflower Fried Rice

Cauliflower rice is carb-free and so filling that you won't even miss the real rice. I prepare it the same way as regular fried rice. I just heat up a pan with oil over medium, sauté up my rice with other veggies (fresh or frozen), and add some store-bought teriyaki sauce. It's so simple that you'll want to throw those takeout menus in the recycling bin. 

#SpoonTip: Grate the cauliflower ahead of time so your cook time is just five minutes when you're ready to chow down.

8. Veggie Sammie

sandwich, avocado, tomato, toast, wheat, bread
Sarah Arora

Craving something not-so-boring for Meatless Monday? Try a flavorful veggie sammie made with ingredients you can get from the dining hall salad bar. I like making mine as pictured (with toasted wheat bread, tons of avocado, red peppers, arugula, hummus, and cracked black pepper). 

9. Mac and Cheese

Sarah Arora

Sometimes you want comfort food, but you don't want to go to the nearest fried chicken joint to get it. Luckily, you can skip the blue-boxed dinner and make the richest and creamiest mac and cheese in the comfort of your own home. Grab some cooked pasta (or even noodles from the dining hall), and douse it in a homemade cheese sauce that takes three ingredients and less than five minutes to prepare. 

10. Lettuce Wraps

salad, lettuce, vegetable, spinach
Angela Pizzimenti

All you need is your filling of choice and lettuce for this fresh, healthy, and carb-free meal. Take any sort of meat, veggies, and/or tofu (even leftovers from the stir fry from #1 above). No need for P.F. Chang's tonight. 

11. Pita Pocket

Sarah Arora

Toast up a pita and add in any filling you'd like. Sometimes I just add things as simple as cooked chicken or ground turkey, hummus, and cucumber. Pita pockets are super quick, versatile, and filling. Think of it as an upgraded sandwich when you take it on-the-go. 

#SpoonTip: Try one (or all) of these not-so-boring pita recipes

12. 'Chipotle' Burrito Bowl

salad, chicken, spinach
Collette Block

I crave Chipotle as much as the average college student, but sometimes I make it at home. Save yourself $10 and make a quick burrito bowl in the comfort of your dorm room or apartment. To make this a 5-minute dinner, prep all your burrito bowl toppings ahead of time. That way, all you have to do is throw everything in a bowl and heat it up in the microwave.

#SpoonTip: If you buy chipotle seasoning and sprinkle it on top of your protein of choice, you'll get more of that familiar taste from your favorite Mexican grill.

13. Zoodles

Talia Moretti

I did Whole30 for the first month of spring semester, and zoodles became my dinner about three to four times a week. I really never got sick of them because there are endless ways to prepare them. Usually, I'd prepare them like pasta--tossed in olive oil, garlic, chopped tomatoes, spinach, and ground turkey. 

#SpoonTip: You can spiralize zucchini in advance and cook it later. Store it in an air-tight container in the fridge to keep it fresh.

14. Fish Tostada

Sarah Arora

As if I didn't have enough Mexican-inspired food on this list, here's another quick and easy idea for Taco Tuesday (or Fiesta Friday, Mexican Monday, whatever). If I have tostadas on hand (which is only when they're on sale at the store), I sprinkle on some cooked fish (fresh or frozen), and all the other classic taco toppings. 

15. Indian-Spiced Veggies and Paneer/Chicken

I could make an elaborate Indian meal, but 99 times out of 100 I don't have that kind of time. Therefore, I just take cooked chicken or paneer (Indian cheese) and veggies, sauté them, and add in curry powder, salt, garlic, minced onion, and lemon juice. Spices truly do cure homesickness. 

There's nothing better than the satisfaction of having made something edible (and irresistible at that). Cooking will no longer feel like a time-consuming or stressful activity with these 5-minute dinners. Just remember to prep your ingredients in advance so your recipes take just 5 minutes when you're ready to eat.