How to Cook Quick, Easy, and Healthy Recipes With Five Ingredients or Less

Easy Meals

Wikimedia Commons | Rick Audet
Wikimedia Commons | Rick Audet

Fast Food vs. Home Cooked Quick Meals

Fast food is popular because of its relatively low prices, fast service, and convenience. However, taking this convenient route can lead to increased medical costs and eventual health problems such as obesity and diabetes.

Thankfully, cooking doesn’t have to be a long, involved process. With just five ingredients or less, you can cook a healthy meal in fewer than 20 minutes. Here’s how.

Fast and Easy Vegetarian Burritos

These burritos are fresh, healthy, and delicious. You could add meat if you wanted to, but they're just as filling and tasty without it. Much healthier and tastier than the packaged burritos in the frozen section of your local grocery store.


You’ll need:

  • Tortillas
  • Refried beans
  • Shredded cheese (e.g., Colby, Cheddar, or Jack)
  • Onion (diced into small cubes)
  • Sour cream


  1. Lay out the tortilla on a plate.
  2. Sprinkle some shredded cheese in a line going across the center of the tortilla.
  3. Using a spoon, plop some refried beans on top of the cheese.
  4. Sprinkle with more cheese and diced onions.
  5. Roll the tortilla up into a burrito, folding sides in first, then rolling from bottom to top.
  6. Wrap burrito in a paper towel and cook in microwave on high for approximately one minute.
  7. Serve with sour cream on the side. Optionally you can also serve with guacamole and salsa.


Italian Beef Noodle Casserole

This easy recipe sounds like it needs additional ingredients such as spices and sauce, but it doesn’t. The Italian diced tomatoes already contain the spices necessary for the meal, and the addition of fresh grated Parmesan cheese tops an already tasty dinner.


You’ll Need:

  • Macaroni or egg noodles
  • Ground beef
  • 8-ounce can Italian diced tomatoes
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Cook macaroni or egg noodles according to package directions.
  2. While noodles are boiling, cook ground beef in a fry pan until slightly browned. Optionally you can use ground turkey, ground pork, ground chicken breast, or ground bison (the latter of which is lower in fat and cholesterol than chicken).
  3. Drain fat from fry pan.
  4. When noodles are al dente (still slightly chewy), drain them into a colander.
  5. Dump noodles back into fry pan with beef.
  6. Dump the 8-ounce can diced Italian tomatoes into the mix.
  7. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and serve.


French Bread Pizzas

Forget those disgusting frozen french bread pizza brands. You can make a far healthier meal using just a few basic ingredients at little cost. Everyone likes pizza – this one can be cooked as vegetarian or with meat.


You’ll Need:

  • Long loaf of french bread or small bolillo rolls
  • Jar of pizza sauce
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Pizza toppings such as mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, pepperoni (optional)


  1. Cut french bread up into meal-size mini-loaves, then slice lengthwise. If using bolillo rolls, simply slice lengthwise.
  2. Spread pizza sauce on each half of bread.
  3. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on bread slices. Optionally, you can add meats and veggies (e.g., onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, pepperoni).

Grocery Store Meal Deals

Have you looked in the deli section of your favorite grocery store lately? Chances are, you'll see a wide variety of fancy prepared foods including salads, meats, fish, veggies, and international meals.

Mainstream health food stores including Market Street, Whole Foods, and Central Market offer various pre-made meals and salad buffets, as do niche stores including Sprouts, Trader Joe's, and Sunflower/Newflower. And if you haven't already noticed, mainstream grocery chains including Safeway, Tom Thumb, Kroger, and Albertsons are offering prepared foods as well.

If you don't have time to rush home and cook dinner, picking up a fresh meal from these grocery stores is a healthier, less expensive alternative to eating out.

Wikimedia Commons | David Shankbone
Wikimedia Commons | David Shankbone

Cooking at Home vs. Eating Out

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Comments 1 comment

Melanie Munn 6 years ago

I'm not sure that sour cream or refried beans are the healthiest options. Instead, try cutting out the sour cream and using organic black beans.

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