So everyone knows that students are flat broke and a decent meal that doesn’t come in a take-away container can be hard to come by.
You get three kinds of student chefs; the ones who can cook, the ones who can’t and the ones who like to experiment… but inevitably threaten the safety of their flat and flatmates.
As a result of lack of funds, time and motivation, instant ramen noodles have become a firm cupboard staple of the student kitchen, but they can get a bit bland and repetitive; while they may look like tasty take-out on the packet… the reality can be something rather disappointing. I have investigated some ways to revive the humble noodle and make it an exciting and nutritious meal once again.
Best part – all for under a fiver, can be made in less than 15 minutes and creates a stock of re-useable stuff (mainly).
- Use condiments (household must haves for so many reasons)
Condiments are your friend. Anything that tastes bad can be instantly improved with some very basic, inexpensive, household ingredients. If you do not subscribe to the ubiquitously accepted good advice that anything can be made better when you add ketchup, then we’re talking curry paste, soy sauce, garlic, chilli, peanut butter even!
- Add the veggies (you know you want to, your health calls for it)
Vegetables can be expensive, but you can buy big bags of them frozen and once they are boiled up they taste just as good. But saving on the simple things means you can afford to splurge out a little on the more unusual ingredients and fresh versions of your favourites.
- Ramen Burger
Forget Burger King – we all know that as wonderful as that greasy treat is as a post-lecture pick-me-up or hangover cure, there is a healthier alternative. It also means you can get a favour from a flat mate by making them one in their time of need with very little effort on your part. Simply boil them up then lightly pan-fry each packet into a patty or bun shape, insert your choice of burger or filling and you’re sorted. Alternatively, use the noodles themselves as the burger filling!
- Noodle Bolognese
Ever disagreed with the Italians on anything other than football? Like what goes best with your Bolognese? Well, if you ran out of spaghetti in that disaster of a date night where you tried to re-enact that scene from Lady and the Tramp, then noodles are a perfect alternative!
5. Add the meat
Sliced beef, chicken or prawns added to a noodle soup can easily be arranged to look professional, just add some on top with a little spring onion, pak choi or a halved boiled or fried egg and you can easily convince yourself it was chef prepared rather than thrown together out a grubby pot. Aside from that it will help fill your dietary requirements a lot better than a ready meal, as you can afford to use fresh meat with the savings. It’s also, a great way to use up leftover meats from previous meals.
- Who needs nachos?
Fancy something other than tortilla chips under your cheese and jalapenos? Noodles! Simple cook up, add your choice of topping and tuck in! This recipe is best with cooked noodles but can be eaten dry, plus the flavour sachet will add an interesting flavour dimension.
- Crunchy Ramen Snack Mix
Think cereal bar or nutty mix bag or stuff you can easily find in your cupboard. Crunch up the noodles into tiny pieces, add in whatever manner of dry power flavourings tickle your taste buds; curry powder, chilli, pepper, salt – anything goes! Add in some nuts, seeds and pulses – again, the choice is endless, experiment with different combinations – cornflakes/bran flakes or other simple breakfast cereal and you are good to go with a tasty snack you can bag up or nibble at your leisure. Plus, it uses up all those leftover bits and pieces cluttering up your cupboard. Result!
8. Ramen pizza
That’s right, you read correctly. Instead of a customary pizza base, you might find noodles a more interesting alternative. Ok, so it’s perhaps not exactly the healthiest alternative to take-out, in fact, not going to lie, it is probably just as bad for you, but it is a lot cheaper and after all, what is a student fridge without leftover pizza?
- Spicy Veg and Ramen Grilled Cheese Sandwich
This is one of the more exotic options. Originally made by a Korean chef using the traditional Korean dish Kimchi, it may be a little ambitious for the budget student kitchen to attempt. But keeping it simple with some chopped, veg added to your favourite noodles, then put between two bloomers with some cheese before you toast it and you have a quick, filling, tasty alternative to your boring old cheese toasty. Just be careful the noodles have absorbed the water properly or that you strain them well or your toasty will go a bit soggy.
- Ramen Noodle Bake/Casserole
Instead of potatoes in a bake, which can be annoying when you over or under boil them, or traditional gravy and meat casserole, which can end up too watery, you could always use noodles. By topping with cooked meat, spaghetti sauce and cheese, mixing all together with water and baking in the oven, you will find yourself with a surprisingly nutritious and delicious meal that can be put in the fridge for another day.
- Ramen Shepard’s Pie
Couldn’t be simpler. Everyone makes this home comfort their own way and if you get your family to show you how to make the perfect Shepards Pie, you can always top it with instant noodles in a penny pinching situation and still be left with the warm fuzzies of home in your belly – with a delicious student twist. Hey, we want to eat mums finest food, we don’t want to be mum; a bit of originality in the kitchen could end with you making your own traditional dish!