Ramen, or instant noodles, have a reputation for being cheap student food.  At 25 cents for a package of Mr.Noodles, it’s not surprising that they are regarded as empty calories for the starving student.  But as someone who loves all things noodle-soup related, I disagree!  Instant noodles can be filling, tasting, and even nutritious.

First, ditch Mr. Noodles.  Consider it akin to your first relationship – not entirely satisfying, but a good learning experience.  Next, try ethnic brands with atypical flavours – Some of my favourite flavours include shio, tonkatsu, spicy chicken, and kimchi!  Once you’re at that point, it’s easy to turn instant noodles into a noodle soup meal.

Noodle soup with chicken

This is one of the easiest noodle soup meals that you can make.  It uses a flavour of ramen that is fairly common.


  • Chicken flavoured instant noodles ($0.25 to $0.50  a package)
  • ¼ cup of bean sprouts, washed (< $0.10)
  • Cilantro, chopped finely (< $0.10)
  • Green onions, chopped finely (< $0.10)
  • Leftover chicken, shredded

Cook the instant noodles according to the package instructions but do not add the seasoning packages.  If the noodles contain an oil package, do not add that either!  When the noodles are about done, toss in the chicken so that it warms up in the soup.  Pour the contents into a large bowl.

Add half the seasoning package.  Mix and taste.  Chances are, you will not need it to be saltier, but if you do, add more.  I generally do not use the oil package, but if you want the seasoning oil, add a little bit, taste it, and then add more only if needed.  By doing this, you reduce the fat and salt content of instant noodles, which is the unhealthiest part of the meal.

Think of the seasoning packages as your salt and pepper shakers.  You would not add an entire container of salt for your meal – you would add only enough to suite your taste.

Then, top with fresh bean sprouts, green onions and cilantro – and enjoy!

Total cost: $0.50 to $1, depending on the amount of meat and the type of instant noodles you use.

Healthy tip: Use unsalted vegetable or chicken stock instead of water for cooking the noodles and you will need even less seasoning powder to give it flavour.

Frugal tip: If you have leftover bean sprouts, onions or cilantro, just put it in a Tupperware to use within the next 2-3 days.