There are people in this world who will try to tell you that there are no ways to make ramen noodles taste good, or that this cheap and easy meal is only for broke, lazy college students. These people are wrong. It's been nearly three and a half years since I graduated college, but my pantry is still constantly stocked with ramen. Those instant noodles, or as I have affectionately called them since I was a child, oodles of noodles, aren't just for when you are broke (though they are a total life-saver when you're in a financial pinch.) Ramen has officially become a part of your regular diet. Sure, they aren't the healthiest thing you'll eat all week, but instant noodles are always reliable. They're a quick, easy, hot meal that warms the belly, and relaxes the soul. They're simple and consistent, which is more than you can say about most things in your life.
But even though we can all agree instant noodles are a cheap, easy gift of the food gods, we can all also admit that sometimes they can be a little boring. How much can you expect from a meal that costs less than 50 cents, and takes less than five minutes to make? It is time you put all of your adult knowledge and experience into your noodle making, because there are plenty of simple to not-so-simple ways to improve instant noodles.
Though some of these ideas make your instant noodles a little less instant, here are nine ways to make them better:
1. Add vegetables
Whether it's a bag of frozen peas and corn from the freezer, or fresh spinach and broccoli, a handful of vegetables will take your instant noodles from a sad snack to garden meal. Pea pods, string beans, and mushrooms are personal favorites of mine, but you can toss in whatever is in the fridge, or whatever you fancy.
2. Toss in an egg, cooked any style
Hard-boiled, soft-boiled, fried, or poached, eggs make everything (seriously, everything) better. They taste delicious, and they add protein to an otherwise carb-loaded meal.
3. Pick a condiment, any condiment
Even though the instant noodle packs and cups come with seasoning, you can transform the flavor by adding your own sauce, oil, paste, or other condiment. Sesame seed oil, miso paste, and Sriracha (duh) are all great options. If you're feeling extra adventurous, stir in some peanut butter for a Thai-inspired flavor.
4. Add cooked meat
If you want a heartier, more filling meal, add cooked meat to your noodles. Just like at a ramen restaurant, you can pick chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp to toss into the mix.
5. Eat it with cheese, obviously
There is such a thing as instant mac and cheese, but what if you can't decide between that and instant noodles? You never have to choose again, because adding shredded cheese or a cheese sauce to your ramen noodles is truly as good as it sounds. And I mean, really, what doesn't cheese go well with?
6. Top your salad with ramen
I don't know what you're improving more with this combination, your instant noodles, or your salad, but either way, it's delicious. You can cook the noodles in the seasoning and water first, or you can simply break up uncooked noodles and shake them in the spices before using them as crunchy croutons on top of your salad. Either way, you've taken your salad from sad to satisfying.
7. Cook them into an omelette
Omelettes are the burritos of breakfast foods, meaning you can pretty much eat them with anything, including instant noodles. Cook and drain the noodles, and then mix them into your omelette mix with some cheese and vegetables, and you've got a fully-loaded ramen-inspired breakfast.
8. Stuff ramen into tacos
Move over, fish tacos — there's a new star in town, and it's the ramen-stuffed taco. The noodles can be added in crunchy or cooked, but once they're combined with your favorite taco fillings and toppings, it won't matter. The bottom line is that this is delicious.
9. Turn instant noodles into stir-fry
The salty, flavorful broth, meat, and vegetables are all crucial parts of the instant noodle experience, but admit it, you're here for the carbs.
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