HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Your favorite 5 minute meal?

I'm sure there are threads like this in the archives, but how about some new ideas...

What is your favorite thing to make from scratch when you've got only 5-10 minutes of time?

Things I'm thinking of are:
Pasta sauces

I know leftovers and rotisserie chickens from the market are quick, but what can you do that's (mostly) homemade?

My go-to 5 minute dinners are:

-Angel hair (4 mins to al dente) tossed with butter and parm, and sometimes also with garlic and herbs or lemon


-Grilled cheese in many iterations--sometimes with veggies, spinach, basil, sundried tomatoes, balsamic, condiments, etc.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Reheated leftover rice, sesame oil, soy sauce, furikaki and a raw egg. Great breakfast.

    1. Cous cous - only takes about five minutes with boiling water (to cook), toss with olive oil and herbs - et voila

      Otherwise - scrambled eggs/omelet and toast, toasted whole wheat bagel with tuna salad, or cereal and milk (don't knock it!)

      3 Replies
      1. re: ahuva

        I would never knock cereal/milk. Probably once a month, my mother would serve us cereal for dinner after she'd had a long day at work and it always strangely hit the spot!

        I'm a daily cereal eater (breakfast) myself, and my bf will eat cereal at least twice a day.

        1. re: nothingswrong

          Cereal never fills me. I can eat the better part of a box (or a full box when I was younger) and be starving an hour after.

          1. re: jrvedivici

            Me too. In fact, I just had some about 20 minutes ago and am ready for "second breakfast."

            But sometimes a bowl of cereal after a long day is just the thing before hopping in the shower and straight to bed.

      2. Two eggs over easy with toast.

        1. This is closer to 10 minutes, but I like to finely chop a red bell pepper, mince a small clove of garlic, and sprinkle with pimenton and crushed almonds. Fry that in olive oil for a bit while you beat a couple tbsp of warm water in which you've soaked a thread of saffron into a couple of eggs. Add a little cayenne, scramble the eggs into the pepper mixture, eat, etc.

          1. Soba noodles, soy sauce, a splash of fish sauce, a pinch of red pepper flakes and scallions. I ate some for breakfast today :)

            1. mash ripe avocado, salt, pepper, spread on crunchy baguette - probably 60 seconds LOL but makes me happy every time

              smoked salmon, goat cheese - meet toasted bagel

              1 Reply
              1. re: JTPhilly

                I used to love ripe avocado mashed into charred tortillas, sprinkled with garlic salt, a squirt of lemon/lime, and some hot sauce.

                I developed an adult allergy to avocados unfortunately. That was one of my favorite lazy dinners.

              2. Steamed asparagus and frizzled pork tenderloin medallions seasoned with cumin, powdered ancho, and S&P.

                1. For ideas, use the Quick & Easy filter on the epicurious site (credit IanUK ThornTree Get Stuffed thread 2/25/05)

                  Go to http://www.epicurious.com/restaurants...

                  Type in your main ingredient and when it comes up with the list of recipes use the drop down menu (on the left) to select Quick & Easy. You can further refine by preparation method - No cook. microwave, etc.

                  P.S. This only works if you are planning ahead of time for constrained cooking time. It's very easy to kill 10 minutes searching through recipes online.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: MidwesternerTT

                    Thank you. I can get lost in that website's recipe archives.

                    I was more just curious what people here liked to eat on busy nights!

                  2. Whatever cooked boneless meat in the fridge (beef, chicken, pork) seared in a nonstick skillet. While the meat is reheating, whisk up a slurry of cornstarch & stock or broth from whatever meat I'm eating for a quick pan sauce along with appropriate seasonings. Toss in leftover veggies or a handful of frozen peas and if I have cooked rice or pasta. Five minutes to plate.

                    I also like to take a smoked sausage, split down the center and open it; cook in a skillet on both sides with some onions & garlic. Nestle in whatever bread is available with a slathering of mustard.

                    I love oatmeal and will sometimes have it for dinner when I don't want to make a full meal or just when I want a snack. I'll make a couple of servings so I can eat some now and have one on reserve for when I want a little something. I vary the toppings; sometimes I'll add sautéed apples or bananas & cinnamon, toasted nuts, crushed banana chips, or when I want savory, it'll be whatever cooked veggies leftover in the fridge, crumbled bacon, sausage or sautéed diced ham with a drizzle of hot sauce or gravy if I have it cooked.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Cherylptw

                      Those are all great ideas. I love having frozen veggies on hand to toss in at the end of cooking for a quick splash of green. I tend to add a handful of frozen spinach to everything.

                      I've never made oatmeal ahead of time. Do you just refrigerate it? How do you reheat?

                      I've also never tried savory oatmeal, though I've seen lots of recipes and ideas. I can't get past my favorite way to prep it: with brown sugar, cinnamon, and honey or maple syrup.

                      1. re: nothingswrong

                        With the oatmeal, I just cook it up then refrigerate once cooled down. Sometimes, I'll just reheat in the microwave (covered with plastic wrap or a piece of wax paper) or if I'm adding to it, I'll put it in a saucepan or small skillet, add a liquid of choice and heat it over low heat, stirring. That liquid could be milk, cream, half & half..maybe juice if it's a sweet oatmeal...even water will work. For example, if I want to go sweet, I may reheat it with (or even cook the oatmeal in) fruit juice like apple or pineapple juice or coconut milk.

                        In a savory application, I may use a stock or broth or something like tomato juice or coconut milk would work here too. If you like sausage or bacon, consider making your oatmeal with the usual brown sugar, etc. then stir in some cooked & crumbled bacon or sausage. I love the sweet/savory combination. A side of toast to dip in it and it's a meal!

                    2. -Quesadillas. I start heating a skillet before I pull anything from the fridge. If I get the cheese out first and start slicing it there is very little chance the cheese is ever going to make it past my mouth and into the tortilla. I keep it really simple- just cheese plus a few drops of sriracha or a sprinkling of sweet smoked paprika+chipotle+cayenne. A little butter in the skillet to make it extra crispy and brown. One of the rare times I use butter.

                      -Tofu stir fry. I skip the rice or noodles (although rice noodles are so fast I'll use them if I have them.) I usually have a block of frozen tofu. It's better pressed but I'll skip this and thaw it in the microwave and simply squeeze all the water I can get out of it. Heat a skillet, smash a clove of garlic, and root around in the fridge for whatever veg I have on hand (frequently half a red bell pepper and some broccoli.) Throw together a simple sauce and this one comes together in less than 10 minutes plus it keeps me from eating something stupid and overly carby.

                      -Scrambled eggs/omelettes. When I walk in the door I start heating a skillet with a bit of oil in it. Smash a clove of garlic and then root around in the fridge gathering generous handfuls of fresh herbs and maybe some veg scraps. Beat the eggs while any vegetables that need it cook. 5 minutes max. I'll eat it with toast if I have bread. Even better if I have toast with jam. And a glass of wine.

                      Sometimes I'll combine two of these and do a stir fry with no tofu but I'll scramble an egg into everything at the very end. I keep a very small (small because they go rancid quickly) container of toasted mixed black and white sesame seeds around. They look awesome and a sprinkle can really kick up a boring dish.

                      I know that if I start heating a skillet I can't waste any time poking around aimlessly. Things fly out of the fridge, get chopped, and start cooking immediately.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: PinkLynx

                        I make my quesadillas the same way: start heating the skillet, throw in a few tortillas, add some cheese. I like them extra crispy on the outsides. I sprinkle with chipotle powder, but I also use a little garlic or seasoning salt. After, I drizzle with hot sauce (Cholula).

                        I like your "just heat the skillet" philosophy. I do the same thing!

                        1. re: magiesmom

                          This may take the cake for me as well.

                        2. Seared scallops over pan-wilted greens when I'm feeling fancy. When I'm not fancy, eggs in many iterations.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: pinehurst

                            Or sautéed shrimp. Equally fast and easy (provided you have them clean and on hand).

                            1. Hot dogs, veggie burgers, english muffins, french toast, soup, eggs just to name a few breakfast and lunch favorites. (Your post said meal not dinner).

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Berheenia

                                Yeah, I was curious about any meal. French toast is a good one to make in bulk, then freeze the cooled slices. You can pop into the toaster to reheat.

                                Every time I've tried to do this though, I end up eating most of the toast that's supposed to get frozen :/

                                1. re: nothingswrong

                                  Yeah - we do a ton of french toast on Sunday and then refrigerate the extras for weekday mornings. I wouldn't have thought that it would work, but my wife started doing it.

                              2. can even make ramen noodles in five minutes, much less a grilled cheese. I often buy very thin ribeyes, and I can cook them in two minutes with an asian-type prep. But there's still plating, cleanup, etc.

                                1. Reheat whatever steamed or roasted vegetables I have on hand (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, asparagus). Cook two eggs up or over easy. Serve eggs on top of vegetables with a lot of shredded parmesan cheese.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: cookie monster

                                    Put a previously baked potato under it as well. I love eggs and runny yolks on a baked potato. You don't even need butter or sour cream. Great with broc or cauliflower and cheese, too.

                                    1. re: rudeboy

                                      That sounds good. I try to keep my dinners low[er] carb (and this is a 5 minute dinner for me more often than a breakfast), but that is tempting.

                                      1. re: rudeboy

                                        Yes! My mother always told me "If you're already baking a potato for dinner, toss an extra in there for tomorrow."

                                        I'll do a repeat baked potato, scoop out the insides and mash with fillings then re-stuff and bake for a twice-baked tater, make crispy restaurant-style potato skins, chop it up into pieces and sauté in fat until crispy for home fries, etc. etc.

                                    2. fancy ramen from a package just doctored up with eggs

                                      1. This is good with jasmine rice. J rice takes only 9 minutes to cook, less if you have leftovers.

                                        Black Bean Ful (adapted from the Sundays at Moosewood cookbook)

                                        1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained. Put in a large microwaveable bowl and heat til hot.

                                        Stir in:

                                        1 clove minced or pressed garlic
                                        A dash of EVOO (or more to taste)
                                        1 med tomato, chopped
                                        1 small handful of minced cilantro or parsley
                                        Juice of 1/2-1 lemon. I like it lemony :)
                                        Salt to taste but I think more is better ;)

                                        That's all. My DH loves it. He calls it 'Cowboy Beans' although I think it's Egyptian in origin.

                                        1. This was a little longer than five minutes but...

                                          I had some leftover stir fry (rice, vegs and chicken). I melted some butter in a skillet, added the stir fry, got it nice and hot, cracked an egg over it, covered and cooked til it was done to my liking. The bottom of the rice mixture was perfectly crispy.

                                          1. Might be cheating a little but if I have homemade chix salad or tuna in the fridge, I absolutely love the comfort of a melt, lightly toast an English muffin, pile on the chix or tuna salad, lay on a slice of fontina, Swiss or provolone, pop under broiler till cheese is melty and bubbly, sooooo satisfying and quick.

                                            1. How scratch does it have to be? 1) Frizzle canned corned beef hash in a frying pan until it is getting crispy then pour beaten eggs over it and make an omelet. 2) Heat a can of beef gravy, add deli sliced roast beef, and pour over a slice of white bread, a la diner. 3) English "beans on toast"---hot buttered whole wheat toast with a can of pork & beans heated and poured over it. 4) Frankfurters heated with canned sauerkraut. 5) Big Idaho potatoes baked in microwave, split open, and covered with a can of Cheddar Cheese soup, undiluted and mixed with sliced leftover sausage or bits of ham etc. 6) Picadillo. Saute' ground beef, add some onion and pepper if you have time, add raisins, season with salt, garlic, and CUMIN for sure, add a little can of tomato sauce, and serve with rice (the kind you zap fast in microwave). 7) Hot steak sandwiches using cube steaks or frozen minute steaks. 8) Fake Stroganoff: saute' cut-up cube steaks, add canned mushroom soup, sour cream, canned mushrooms. 8) Bacon and eggs. 9) Corn Chowder: canned cream-style corn, milk to thin, a little instant potato to thicken, to taste. Add leftover bits of sausage, bacon, or ham.10) Fake Welsh rarebit: melt 8 oz shredded Cheddar cheese in an undiluted can of tomato soup and pour over toast. 11) Chef salad (chop everything up the night before)---add frozen cooked shrimp that thaws in 30 seconds in microwave. 12) Add a can of little bitty shrimp or crabmeat or oysters to a can of vegetable soup to make an Eastern Shore-type soup. Have this with grilled cheese sandwiches. 13) Tacos: corn tortillas, canned refried beans, chopped lettuce and tomato, sliced avocado, bits of leftover meat, sauce from a bottle, each person assembles his own.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                What are you? The owner of a 'can' company? LOLOL
                                                Just kidding. ;()

                                                  1. I make Big Salads of Stuff more often than not.... Always less than 10min, I'm pretty handy with a knife. Veggies depend on what's around and often i have a batch of a basic massaged kale salad in the fridge that becomes the base. Edamame, beans, tempeh, or a veggie burger patty go in there, along with some kind of chopped nuts or seeds. Dressing from thinned hummus, salsa, or a creamy yogurt basalmic mix.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                      So you can "pre-massage" kale without it going too far?

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        A great way to massage kale is to drop a handful in your rice cooker after the rice is done cooking and it switches to the "keep warm" cycle.

                                                        Keep the kale in there for a about 90 seconds and you get soft kale and a flavor and vitamin/mineral boost to your rice.

                                                        Win, win.