Ramen noodles offer cheap 'n' clever dishes

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

Sept. 4, 2013 at 4:04 a.m.

A bowl of the original 3-ounce packet of ramen noodles.

A bowl of the original 3-ounce packet of ramen noodles.

College classes are underway, cafeterias are busy keeping students fueled for tests and quizzes, and after-school snacks are like gold. For busy students or parents looking for a cheap meal to keep their kids full until dinnertime, there's the old, reliable packet of ramen noodles.

Sure, it might not be your ideal meal, but it feeds in a snap, and not to mention, at less than a quarter a pop, it's a easy on the pocketbook.

Ramen noodles helped Michele Rohde and her husband, Rocky, save money during their first few years of marriage after they bought their first home together.

She said since the home took up a lot of their budget they had a bare pantry for their dining options. They had to think outside the box. Rohde said they tried various combinations of recipes and finally came up with one they could chow down on.

The couple would prepare a handful of ramen packets on the stovetop in their newly shared kitchen, throw it in a baking dish and toss in a few extra ingredients, and they'd have dinner for few days.

"It was one of the only recipes that worked out," said Rohde, 32.

Her quick chicken ramen chicken dish, which she dubbed Newlywed Casserole, was their go-to for quick and plenty. The dish holds up well in the fridge, so leftovers were always in abundance.

They lived off the clever concoction for about seven years until they were just sick of it, she said. Since then, she said she's had a lot of time to test other recipes and gain more experience in the kitchen.

They've moved on to healthier dishes after 13 years of marriage, including carne asada and homemade pizza. She spends a lot more time looking at the labels of products, too, acknowledging that ramen noodles aren't the healthiest food.

"I use the self-rising, gluten-free crust mix, ground turkey instead of hamburger meat and shredded cheese - which is probably the only bad thing on the whole pizza - and organic spaghetti sauce," she said. "We've come a long way."

She credited a lot of her newly found culinary fortitude to her cookbook bible, "The Four Ingredient Cookbook." It's been a few years since she's eaten a bowl of ramen noodles, but she showed no signs of missing it.

Attend a social gathering with NewsCenter 25 morning anchor Shawna Mitchell, and she might bring a dish of ramen noodle salad. It's a dish she saw on Pinterest and thought looked pretty good.

"It turned out a lot better than I expected," said Mitchell, 35.

The salad works well for different meals and occasions and is easy to make as a vegetarian option, adding that she likes to use the shrimp or vegetable flavor for the salad.

Mitchell, who claims she's not an expert in the kitchen, also uses ramen to make a quick stir-fry dish with broccoli and other vegetables.

"I like to cook and try new things," she said.



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