It’s no secret that the average college student is poor. Between paying for tuition, books, and other unnecessarily high priced course fees, the typical collegiate experience is based in frugality — especially when it comes to eating.
For example, take a second to think of what’s in your pantry. There’s likely a box of Pop Tarts, a bag of potato chips, a few cups of Easy Mac, a jar of peanut butter, a loaf of bread, and enough ramen noodles to feed an entire household during a major natural disaster. However, you don’t have to be married to chicken or beef flavor packets included in each package of ramen noodles. Thanks to a growing army of chefs and homemakers dedicated to spicing up your meals on a budget, the days of bland, sodium-heavy bowls of ramen are gone.
The State Press has conveniently compiled a list of some of the best variations on the traditional cup of noodles that will spice up your meal without breaking the bank.
1. Turn your ramen into a stir-fry. Toss your noodles into a wok with some snap peas, water chestnuts, sliced carrots and chopped broccoli and you’ve got yourself a economical approach to a culinary classic. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous — and if your bank account permits — marinate some chicken with some soy sauce, ginger and garlic powder and toss it in the skillet before adding your noodles and vegetables for a bit of added flair.
2. Make your ramen a tastier, healthier soup. Ramen, by definition, is already a soup, but adding just a few simple ingredients can really change the dish. For example, by using broth instead of water, a few drops of toasted sesame oil, or a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, you’ve already got a more savory soup. Add some chopped scallions or some parsley as a garnish and you’ve got yourself a meal you can make for your friends.
3. Ever wake up in the morning and find yourself hungry for more than a bowl of month-old Cheerios? Tear open that package of Top Ramen and toss it in with your favorite breakfast foods. Cook your noodles in water with one beaten egg, draining all but one teaspoon of water. Mix in some cheese, your package of seasoning and a few dashes of hot sauce. Wrap it all up in a tortilla and you’ve got a cheap and filling alternative to a breakfast burrito.
4. Toast your ramen with oil and seasonings and make a trail mix. Sauté your ramen crumbles in oil until golden brown and let them cool. Then, add in your favorite trail mix snacks, whether you choose raisins, M&M’s, almonds, or sunflower seeds, and you have a surprisingly sweet mix to take with you on the go.
5. Add your toasted ramen pieces to a salad as croutons. You can use unseasoned croutons to improve your ordinary garden salad or even throw on your apron and make a meal your roommates will love. Much like the method for toasting your noodles for the trail mix, you can sauté your noodles in sesame oil, adding some sesame seeds and diced almonds for flavor. Throw your ramen croutons in with some chopped cabbage, green onions and a dressing — made from olive oil and red wine vinegar — and enjoy your new culinary creation.
Eating well on a budget has always been a bit of a challenge, but with the new ideas and recipes given to you here, your afternoon just got a little tastier.
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