Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ramen's Undeserved Stigma

Yes, we all wrinkle our noses when we think of our late nights in college when we resorted to instant ramen noodles for a quick bite. But we have to admit that ramen noodles taste good, and it is really okay to eat it once in a while.

If you really need to watch your sodium, you could trade in the MSG packet for broth or stock that you made yourself. But I personally don't think that MSG is really that terrible for you as long as you don't eat it everyday. I seriously doubt that anyone living in Japan can go through one day without any MSG (it's in almost everything they eat), and yet they generally live longer than Americans.

In fact, there are restaurants in Japan that serve instant ramen noodle soup with different toppings. Here's an interesting article from the Cape Cod Times about a ramen noodle restaurant. http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080716/LIFE/807160301

So, this is what I just had for lunch. A bowl of ramen noodle soup with a poached egg and some leafy green vegetable, with a sprinkle of sliced scallion. Let's do a cost analysis.

I purchased a 6-pack of Nissin's Top Ramen for $.99 from the soup aisle in the supermarket. I used only 1 pack, making it $.17.

The scallion was $.89 a bunch. I used just a few sprinkles. Let's say, 1/30 of the bunch, making it $.03.

I used one medium egg. $1.99 for a dozen medium white eggs. That's $.17.

Leftover green leafy vegetables. In this case, I used an Asian vegetable called Shanghai choy, which was $1.49 a lb. This is about 1/10 of the 1-lb package. $.15.

My lunch was $0.52. The preparation time was 10 minutes. It was filling, warm, and perfect for a cold winter's day. In terms of calories it's about 500. Not ideal, but still better than McDonald's in nutrition and in price.


  1. My understanding is that any kind of noodle soup can be significantly improved with a hot dog and ham. At least that is my impression in Hong Kong. Thoughts?

  2. Yes, it is, in fact, very common in Hong Kong to top your bowl of ramen noodles with slices of ham or a hot dog. In Hong Kong, people simply think of hot dog as a sausage (which it really is, if you think about it). I personally find that a little too heavy.

  3. 500 calories? Are most of those coming from the noodles? Seems really high for what it is.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Yes, unfortunately, most of the calories are coming from the noodles.