Instant ramen is not just for poor college students, the massively hungover, and the frequently stoned. I’m a former professional chef and current professional recipe developer, and I serve my family instant ramen for dinner regularly. The trick to these noodles is treating them like an ingredient rather than a ready-to-eat meal. Do that, and instant ramen checks off all the boxes for an ideal dinner: fast, cheap, easy to prepare, and, most importantly, results in very few dishes. It’s the ultimate work-from-home lunch, too, because it won’t cause a mess in a kitchen that might be doubling as your workplace.
The following eight recipes turn instant ramen noodles into a full-fledged meal, and for the most part it does so with many common fridge and pantry staples, since no one is going to go out and buy special groceries on nights when you can barely motivate yourself to move from the couch to the kitchen. Treat the measurements as approximations; there’s no need to dispense ingredients precisely, and it’s fine to add a little more of this or a little less of that based on your personal preferences. Allow yourself to get creative with add-ins, too, because ramen is a great way to use up leftovers or odds and ends in your refrigerator.