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cooking on the cheap: 
ramen gourmet

by Michele Caldwell 1 2

Not long ago, I read an article about a woman who was forced to eat leather to survive.  While I haven’t had to resort to melting down my prized vintage jacket or my Saturday night boots, I have had to be resourceful with my cuisine.  After all, graduate school teaches you much more than obscure theories that no one else understands— it schools you in the fine art of how to live on $9,000 per year.  So, while I often fantasize about the cashier at the local grocery store scanning my purchases and realizing that he’s in the presence of a culinary goddess, I know the reality: when he sees the ramen noodles rolling down the belt, he’ll chalk me up as an amateur. 

But what the cashier doesn’t know is that I’ve discovered a little secret about ramen noodles!  What everyone knows is that ramen noodles are tasty, quick, and quite possibly the cheapest food on Earth (.22 cents a packet!!!) Ramen noodles also have a reputation for being the food of choice for broke college freshmen who, away from Mommy for the first time and forced to rely on the bathroom sink and a hot plate to nourish themselves, quickly discover that instant noodle soup makes a perfect starving student meal.  But what I know about ramen noodles is that they are an extremely versatile and filling ingredient to hundreds of creatively cheap and delicious meals.  Here are some curly creations inspired by frugality.

just like take out
This modified version of chop suey is so quick that I have to put the ramen noodles on first (they only take 2-3 minutes)!  

2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup soy sauce (I use reduced sodium because the salt dosage can get high)
1/2 cup broth (chicken or pork flavored ramen seasoning packet and ˝ cup water)
2 tsps. sugar
1 jumbo can of Asian stir-fry veggies
1 package of ramen noodles

prep 5-10 minutes 
1 (with enough for lunch the next day)

Make the sauce while the water for the noodles is boiling.  Stir the broth, the soy sauce, the extra water, the cornstarch, and the sugar together in a separate bowl.  Put the veggies in a large frying pan and pour the sauce over.  Boil the noodles.  Heat the veggies and sauce through until the sauce becomes thick.  Once the noodles are cooked, add them to the stir-fry.  Mix around so that the noodles are coated and pick up the flavor of the sauce.  Enjoy!

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