5 Cheap and Easy Top Ramen Recipes

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When you are on a tight budget, Top Ramen and other instant noodle soups are a dinner godsend. They usually cost less than a bag of chips, take about 10 minutes to cook, and bring all the comfort of a hearty bowl of soup. The problem is they are jam packed with sodium, carbs and not much else, ensuring that you will be hungry in the short term, and terribly bored of them in the long term.

(Image: Demand Media)

Here are five recipes comprised of cheap, readily available ingredients that will make your bowl of instant noodles a chic, hearty gourmet meal with hardly any additional cook time.

1. Hearty Traditional Ramen

If you really love the taste of instant ramen and don't need too much in the way of variety, then this recipe is for you. Incorporating vegetables counters the saltiness and adds a few nutrients to your dinner. And the egg provides an inexpensive and easy source of protein to keep you full.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

Things You'll Need

  • 1 package instant ramen, any flavor
  • 2 bunches baby bok choy
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 stalks green onion

Step 1

Bring water to a boil.

Step 2

While waiting for the water to boil, wash the bok choy and slice off the bottoms.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

Step 3

Once the water is boiling, throw in the noodles and bok choy.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

Step 4

Fry the egg to your desired level of doneness to use as a garnish on top of the soup.

Tip

  • Not a fan of fried egg? Simply wait for the last minute of cooking, then crack an egg into the soup and stir. You'll get an egg drop soup with thickening wisps of yolk throughout.

Step 5

When the noodles are done, stir in the seasoning packet and put the soup in a bowl. Lay the egg on top, and garnish with the sliced green onions.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

2. Spicy Thai-Inspired Ramen

I got this idea from fellow eHow Editor Elizabeth Biscevic, who puts peanut butter in her ramen for a creamy, filling Thai-inspired soup. As a spice lover, I added some heat and a little bit of lime for brightness. You can adjust the levels of both to your taste.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

Things You'll Need

  • 1 package Oriental or Chili flavored ramen
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek chili paste, plus more to taste
  • Half a small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1-2 lime wedges

Tip

  • Sambal oelek is found in the Asian section of your grocery store in a small plastic jar with a green cover. If you don't have any, simply substitute this with sriracha and red pepper flakes.

Step 1

Boil noodles according to package directions.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

Step 2

When the noodles are nearly done, stir in the peanut butter and seasoning packet.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

Step 3

Put the soup into a bowl. Stir in a tablespoon of sambal oelek to taste, then more if you want additional heat. Squeeze the lime juice into the soup and top with the diced red bell pepper.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

3. Cold Asian Noodle Salad

If it's too hot for soup, this noodle salad is the way to go. It's full of crunchy vegetables for nutrients and texture. Moreover, it keeps in the fridge for 1-2 days so you can make a larger batch and save some for later.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

Things You'll Need

  • 1 package Oriental flavored ramen
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • Up to 1/4 teaspoon grated ginger, to taste
  • Half a red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup shredded cabbage

Step 1

Boil noodles according to package directions, without adding the seasoning. Drain and set aside.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

Step 2

In a separate bowl, combine the seasoning packet, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and ginger to make the dressing. Whisk with a fork until combined.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

Step 3

Combine the noodles and sliced vegetables in a bowl. Pour the dressing over the top and stir until it's incorporated well into the salad. You can serve immediately or keep it covered in the refrigerator for up to two days.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

4. Chicken Curry Ramen

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

This recipe is a great way to use up leftover rotisserie or any other cooked chicken. This soup also calls for coconut milk, usually found in the baking section or Asian section of your grocery store. I wouldn't substitute anything else. Not only does it thicken the soup, but it also gives it a more authentic flavor. You can always use the leftovers to cream your coffee or top your desserts.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 package Chicken flavored ramen
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
  • 1/3 cup cooked chicken, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk 

Step 1

Boil the noodles according to package directions. Then add curry powder, chopped ginger, and seasoning packet.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

Step 2

Pour the coconut milk into the broth. Stir to combine.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

Step 3

Pour the soup into a bowl. Add the chicken and serve.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

5. Lemon-Herb Chicken Ramen

For a totally different twist on ramen, try this recipe inspired by the French poulet roti (roast chicken). You definitely want to use leftover roast chicken for this one. And if you can find it, use the Roast Chicken flavored instant noodles as well. This soup has a nice rustic, earthy savoriness, elevated by fresh thyme and bright lemon.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

Things You'll Need

  • 1 package Roast Chicken or Chicken flavored ramen
  • 1/3 cup leftover roast chicken
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme. 

Step 1

Boil the ramen according to package directions and add the seasoning packet.

Step 2

While the ramen is cooking, shred the chicken with two forks or by hand.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

Step 3

When the ramen is finished, pour it into a bowl. Stir in the chicken, shredded carrots and lemon juice. Pull the thyme leaves off the sprigs and into the bowl. Serve and enjoy.

(Image: Mary Dacuma)

Tip

  • Raw shredded carrots add a nice textural contrast to the tender noodles and chicken. If you prefer your carrots softer and sweeter, throw them into the boiling water just before adding the noodles.

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