Like most many young 20-somethings, we ate a lot of Top Ramen when we first moved in together. It wasn’t fancy and it definitely wasn’t healthy, but it was cheap and filling, which was on the top of our list when we were just married and flat broke (and I couldn’t cook beyond boiled tortellini and fried eggs).
Ramen seems to the epitome of the college and post college diet, and we were no exceptions. We might have added a bit of protein to liven it up occasionally, but our ramen tended to be pretty basic.
Since then, ramen restaurants have exploded in popularity in our area. I think we can get to at least 4 restaurants within a 10 minute drive that specialize in just ramen, and I can now spend $17 on a bowl of ramen noodles with vegetables, meats, eggs, etc that probably cost $5 to make at the very most.
While these meals are really delicious, a meal out for three of us can get really expensive really quickly, especially for a meal that can be easily made – and customized – at home for a fraction of the price.
While we aren’t struggling like the early days of our marriage, we still eat ramen fairly regularly but we’ve upgraded it to what we call “fancy ramen.” It’s one of our go to weeknight meals thanks to it’s ease of prep and one we also take camping because it can be prepped and frozen ahead of time and then cooked in a single pot. While we usually make it fresh when we’re at home, it makes for a really easy freezer meal as well.
This is one of those meals that can be made as simply or as complicated as you like it, but this is our “standard” prep. We’ll occasionally use fresh refrigerated noodles if we’ve been to the Asian grocery near us, but we keep a stack of Top Ramen on hand in the pantry for last minute dinners.
We also make one bowl at a time so the bowls can be customized per person. At this point, my son just eats a good quarter of my noodles, some meat, plus his own egg, but he’ll probably be eating his own bowl soon enough.
I add a variety of different produce to my ramen, usually based on what I can pick out of the garden. I have some fall kale growing, so I picked that and some green onions for this week’s ramen.
If it’s the dead of winter and I’m relying on grocery store produce, my go to is baby bok choy, but garden fresh produce always tastes best if it’s available. This is also a great meal to use up any lingering produce in your fridge. Since it will be boiled anyway, it doesn’t matter if it’s a bit limp to begin with.
- Package of Top Ramen (or serving of fresh made refrigerated ramen noodles)
- 1 TSP Black Bean Sauce (we tried this Aardvark Secret Black Bean Sauce most recently and it is awesome)
- 1 TSP chili oil
- 4OZ thin sliced beef
- Sesame oil
- 2 green onion stalks, chopped
- 1 cup of kale or other leafy greens
- 2 1/4 cup water
- 1 egg
- Heat up sesame oil on high and add the thin sliced beef. Cook until the beef is cooked through and almost crispy. If you have an Asian grocery around, they usually have packages of VERY thin sliced meats for ramen, Korean BBQ, etc) and these work best for ramen. If not, have the butcher at your local grocery store slice some chuck as thin as they can. You can also do ramen with pork or chicken or just vegetables, but we really like the flavor the beef adds. This can be made well ahead of time and frozen for even quicker meals.
- Fry up eggs and set to the side.
- Fill pot with water, ramen seasoning packet (if desired), Black Bean Sauce, chili oil, 1 of the green onions, kale, and cooked beef. Bring to a boil.
- Once broth is boiling, add noodles and cook until soft (usually 3-5 minutes).
- Once noodles are cooked, turn off heat and let cool for a few minutes. Sprinkle green onions on top, add an egg, and enjoy.