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Transform a boring meal with these inventive but cheap ramen noodle recipes

Ramen noodles have a long history and not just on college campuses and in the kitchens of 20-somethings. These yummy noodles are a favorite and inexpensive, too. So where did ramen noodles originate from? It turns out ramen noodles were introduced to the Japanese from Chinese food carts. Their origin dates back to the early 1900s, when ramen noodles were a hit in both countries.

For a long time, ramen was called “Chinese soba.” Even back then, ramen noodles were considered a budget-friendly meal option. By the 1990s, the masses stopped thinking of ramen as cheap and it entered the realm of gourmet with ramen houses.

Instant ramen noodles, which of course are a staple with college students, were invented by Momofuko Ando in the late 1950s. The first instant ramen was chicken. Ramen is inviting because it’s inexpensive with a package costing around 30 cents. Kids love it because it’s plain and salty, but there are ways to make those budget-friendly ramen noodles into a full go-to meal. So, let’s get cooking with some easy, cheap ramen noodle recipes that are actually healthy.

Ramen noodles in a bowl ready to eat

How to make cheap ramen better

Part of the issue with instant ramen noodles is the high sodium count. You can cut out the added salt by skipping the processed flavor packet and trying these twists to spice up your instant ramen noodles and make this college staple a grown-up meal.

Use vegetable or chicken broth

Instead of water, cook the ramen noodles in vegetable or chicken broth. Doing so adds flavor. Another way is to use water and drop in vegetable or chicken bouillon cubes into the water. Be mindful of the chicken bouillon cubes you use, though. Chicken bouillon cubes can be notoriously high in sodium as well.

Add more flavor to the broth

Flavor up the ramen noodles once they’re cooking in the broth by adding fresh ginger, garlic, and green onions.

Toss in veggies

Vegetables like carrots, mushrooms, peppers, and broccoli make ramen a healthy and filling meal. So raid the refrigerator and toss them in. You can also saute them in a pan while the noodles are cooking and then add the noodles.

Ramen noodles with tofu

Add a protein

To really put a ramen noodle dish over the top, stir in a protein. Tofu and ramen go hand in hand. If you’re not a tofu fan, you can infuse your noodles with chicken, pork, shrimp, beef, and even eggs. Cook your desired protein in another pan or the air fryer. Then bring the ramen, vegetables, and protein together in a pan.

Sauce it up

If you want a bit more flavor, stir in some extra sauce before serving. Sesame oil, soy sauce, and kimchi are ideal.

Ramen noodle bowls with veggies and tofu

Ramen recipes everyone loves

So, now you know you’re not tied to making instant ramen noodles only per the package directions. You can improvise using vegetable, chicken, or even bone broth instead of water, and you can create your own flavor packet using fresh or jarred seasonings from your kitchen. If improvisation in the kitchen isn’t your thing, try these simple, cheap ramen noodle recipes the family will love.

Quick ramen noodle stir-fry

Stir-fry is a perfect pick for a busy weeknight. It’s also a great way to get the veggies and protein together in one pan. Ramen noodles are also an ideal choice for stir-fry and make a nice change from the usual rice. Next time you need a fast, budget-friendly meal, try this quick ramen noodle stir-fry dish from Damn Delicious.

Creamy chicken ramen soup

Soup is a hearty and inexpensive meal, but canned soup is high in salt and often lacking in taste. Of course, you could make homemade soup, but who has that much time? Instead, try this creamy chicken ramen soup recipe from Delish that takes 10 minutes to prep and only 30 minutes to cook.

Ramen noodle salad

Tired of lettuce, tomato, and cucumber salads? They can get boring and the kiddos aren’t always fans. Add a twist to salad and sandwich night by tossing up this yummy ramen noodle salad. It’s so filling you can probably ditch the sandwiches.

Breakfast ramen

Have ramen noodles for breakfast? Why not? Breakfast can get boring, too. So, why not give this breakfast ramen recipe a go? It’s got those tasty ramen noodles, eggs, bacon, and cheese, which is sure to get the kids’ attention.

Taco ramen

Fire up those taste buds for something different for the next Taco Tuesday. Taco ramen? Give it a try. The two actually go together quite well in this delicious taco ramen recipe from Tablespoon. It’s easy and inexpensive to make.

Asian ramen chopped chicken salad

If your family enjoys chicken salad sandwiches or even chicken salad as a side dish, they will really dig into this inviting Asian ramen chopped chicken salad from Cooking Classy. Thanks to all the veggies, chicken, and almonds, it’s a complete meal.

With grocery stores causing sticker shock these days, families are on the lookout for healthy, budget-friendly dinner options. Ramen noodles have long been thought of as a cheap meal. It’s why lots of college students live on those instant ramen noodle packages. Ramen noodles have graduated though. You can make a yummy, healthy, and inexpensive meal for the whole family using those 30-cent ramen noodle packages. Cheap ramen noodle recipes are easy to make and delicious, too.

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