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Ah, ramen: the college meal staple. A necessity, but a rather dull one.

I do have rather fond memories of cooking up instant ramen in my tiny water kettle as a college freshman. But after a semester of having at least one instant ramen meal per week, I was ready for a change. (Also, I was ready for a new water kettle, since it was beginning to reek of chicken-flavored powder.) The ideal change would have been to make more appetizing meals, but I was lacking in a real kitchen and a real budget. The solution? Cheap and easy ramen hacks that will increase the nutritional value of your simple meal (as well as upgrade the taste!).

All of the easy add-ons below require a simple trip to the grocery store (and maybe an extended introduction to the international foods aisle of said grocery store). I’ve outlined the challenge from level:n00b to level:boss, for all you gaming nerds out there. Ready to take on the challenge of upgrading your instant ramen?

Level: N00b

Ramen Hacks - Condimentsimage via Serious Eats

If you’re afraid of the kitchen stove (or simply don’t have one), here are various seasonings you can throw into the mix:

1. Miso Paste

2. Chili been sauce

3. Thai curry paste

4. Japanese curry powder

5. Fish sauce

Level: Beginner

Okay, so you’ve tasted the potential with the seasonings. Now, we should upgrade the nutritional level. Say it with me, vegetables and protein! As ramen ain’t exactly health food, your increasingly doughy freshman 15 body could benefit from a slight nutritional boost.

As you boil your ramen, try the following:

6. Throw in some vegetables!

photo credit: Seymore Sinn via photopin cc

Quick cooking vegetables (i.e. baby spinach, Romain lettuce, bean sprouts) can be tossed in the boiling water right before you serve it. Longer cooking vegetables (i.e. broccoli and shredded carrots) take some more patience.

7. How about tossing in an egg?

boiled eggs ramen hacksimage via Serious Eats

Eggs are cheap and delicious and super easy to add to your dish. Serious Eats says that hard-boiled and soft-boiled eggs are easier than the egg-drop method, but I have mastered the egg-drop method, even as a wee-noob. Who would be scared of just cracking an egg into your boiling ramen and stirring until ready? But I digress. Read the full instructions at Serious Eats.

Level: Intermediate

So you’ve mastered the way of the vegetable and protein add-ons, young grasshopper. It’s now time to go beyond the ramen noodle bowl and transcend to other meals. I know what I said.

8. Chicken Noodle Soup, Ramen Edition

Ramen Hacks - Chicken Noodle Soupimage via My Recipes

If you have mastered vegetable boiling, then this ramen edition of chicken noodle soup should be no problem! Full instructions here.

9. Ramen Noodle Salad

image via Fake Ginger

Toss the seasoning packet and come armed with shredded cabbage, scallions, chili sauce, mayonnaise, lemon juice, a bit of sugar, and sesame seeds, and you’re ready to tackle this marvel. Full instructions here.

Level: Boss

So you’ve reached the expert level of ramen hacks. Congratulations, young grasshopper. The next step is to add a little international flair. HackCollege has conveniently done a demo video introducing the following boss-level ramen hacks:

10. Faux Pho

Credit: Spork and Barrel

11. Hawaiian Ramen

Credit: Spoontang

12. Italian Spaghetti

13. Canadian Poutine


Want to make them? Just watch the instructional video below:

There you have it: 13 ways, from n00b to boss levels, to hack your ramen. You’re welcome.

What cheap ramen hacks are you prepared to battle?

featured photo credit: malloreigh via photopin cc