The art of cooking Ramen noodles -- or, how to eat like
a student and thrive
By Erin Didericksen
March 09, 2006 | You wake up each
morning to make an 8:30 class and stay in school until
2:30. Then, you race to work where you stay until 7.
As you drive home, you think about the paper that is
due tomorrow, the test next Monday and the study group
you have at 9:00. You look down as your stomach rumbles
and realize that you need to eat. "I don't have much
time," you think. What can you scrounge up for dinner?
You hardly even know how to cook!
For most students, college is the
first time they venture out into the world as an independent.
No more curfews, no more rules and no more home cooked
meals. What?! Does this mean I have to make everything
I eat? Yes, it's true. For many, this is the first time
that cooking skills are put to the test. With so much
time spent going to classes and doing homework and with
most jobs only paying minimum wage, one might ask, "Forget
even knowing how to cook -- how am I going to have the
time or the money to cook any kind of food?" There may
be a few tips to help remedy this daunting challenge
and hopefully help the poor, ill-fed college student
Start Out Simple With
college cooking, there is a staple on which most students
survive. In fact, it could be its own food group. This
incredibly vital food is called Ramen noodles. Not only
are they cheap, ranging from 8 to 50 cents, but they
are fast and easy. They come in a plethora of flavors:
chicken, beef, seafood, oriental, just to name a few.
The classic way to cook Ramen is to boil the noodles
in water, add the seasoning packet and enjoy a tasty
noodle soup. However, soup gets boring pretty fast.
Not to worry, Ramen noodles can be cooked in a variety
of ways. They can be fried in vegetable oil and served
with the seasoning packet sprinkled over it. You can
add chicken to them to make a more filling meal. There
are salad recipes, soup recipes, even recipes to use
leftover Thanksgiving dinner! Although this recipe takes
longer to make, one of my favorite Ramen recipes is:
Ramen Noodle Salad Submitted
By: Vera Submitted From: Lawrence, KS, USA Dressing
Ingredients: 2/3 cups oil 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 cup
vinegar Salad Ingredients: 1 pkg. cole slaw mix
2 bunches of green onions (chopped) 1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup sunflower seeds 2 pkg. chicken ramen noodles (broken
up, with seasoning) Mix dressing ingredients and let
sit overnight, do not refrigerate. The next day? Mix
salad ingredients. Add dressing and toss. Let stand
for a few hours.
This recipe was found at the Official
Ramen Homepage. For more easy and fun Ramen recipes,
Potatoes are another fast and cheap
food to utilize. A five pound bag of potatoes usually
costs around a dollar and they last about a month. Most
people like potatoes, whether they be roasted, baked,
mashed, fried, boiled or grilled. For a baked potato,
simply poke holes into the potato with a fork, stick
it in the microwave for two and a half minutes, turn
the potato and cook in the microwave for another two
and a half minutes. It is great with ranch dressing,
sour cream, cheese, ham or any other creation one can
come up with. Cream of chicken soup is a good sauce
on both a baked potato and rice.
For a more extravagant but easy dinner,
packaged meals are the way to go. Rice a Roni and Pasta
Roni sell for about a dollar. These add a little more
flavor to the meal and take about 20 minutes to cook.
TV dinners are another cheap, fast option but they are
not very healthy.
The Health Factor
One worry college freshmen have is,
"how do I fight the Freshman 15?" The Freshman 15, a
theory that freshmen will gain at least 15 pounds, is
one reason to eat healthy. One of the easiest healthy
meals to cook is vegetables over rice. Fresh vegetables
are the best, however frozen vegetables are more inexpensive
and keep longer. The ease of this meal heightens if
a rice cooker is handy. Simply pour rice and water into
the cooker and pour the vegetables into the steamer,
which is located on the top of the cooker. It will cook
and then keep the food warm until it is taken out of
"I live off of rice and salad.
It is so fast and easy and it's healthy too. It's perfect
right before I have to run to work," said Jennifer Cecil.
Salad is a classic health food although
lettuce is known not to keep for a long time. One tip
to make lettuce stay fresh longer is to shred the whole
lettuce head into a bowl, add garnishes such as carrots,
cover the bowl with a wet paper towel and refrigerate.
Every time the salad is eaten, wet the paper towel again.
This salad should stay fresh for about a week. For a
new, easy dressing, a fun recipe is: Poppy Seed Dressing
Mix together: 2 Tbs white vinegar 1/2 cup mayonnaise
or salad dressing 1/3 cup sugar 1/4 cup milk 1 Tbs poppy
seeds (Note: Although it is called poppy seed dressing,
poppy seeds are quite expensive and the dressing is
still tasty without the seeds.)
Other Helpful Hints Chicken
is pretty inexpensive, as far as meat goes. Plus it
can last a long time in the freezer. Chicken preparation
is pretty effortless, although it does take about 30-45
minutes to fully cook.
Onions should not be stored with
potatoes. On the Cooking
Light webpage, it says, "The interaction of [the
onion and potatoes] natural gases causes the potatoes
to rot more quickly."
Tofu, beans and mushrooms are inexpensive
substitutions for meat. Spam is also an inexpensive
and fun meat.
To save costs, it may be helpful
to collaborate with roommates.
"One thing I have discovered
helps a lot is to split certain foods with my roommate.
I can't drink a whole gallon of milk before it goes
sour or go through a block of cheese before it molds.
So my roommate and I split them and the food never spoils!"
said Heidi Young, a sophomore at Utah State University.
Always keep an eye on the sales and
coupons which grocery stores offer. Spending a little
time cutting out coupons may save more than expected.
Also, Wal-Mart will beat any price of other grocery
stores. Warehouse stores such as Pepperidge Farms and
Gossner's will sell their products a lot cheaper than
grocery stores. Although they make be packaged oddly,
the food is still just as useable. Finally, dinner groups
could help cut costs and also saves on time.
"My apartment combines with
another apartment and we have dinner groups every Monday
through Friday. I only have to cook once every two weeks,
I get to try fun, new foods and it's a great way to
make new friends!" said Aubrey Redmond.
If none of these tips are beneficial
to you, the only solutions left for you are to: 1. Starve.
2. Live off of popcorn and water. 3. Revert back to
eating out all the time. 4. Try reading some college
cooking books. 5. Get more creative! Try cooking
breakfast with an iron or try
cooking an egg with cell phones!
Whatever method you use, good luck
and may you survive college!