Ramen noodles have long been synonymous with poor people on a poor diet.
This image came across my Facebook feed the other day to underscore this fact, which I think is a sad commentary on so many things, including nutritional knowledge in this country. My comment was, “Whenever I see people buying ramen by the case, I just think ‘you poor ignorant b@stard, there’s much better food to be had in this store for the same d@mn money.’ Like a sack of potatoes, for example. All the starch with a bizillion [sic] percent more nutrition.”
Several people responded with their favorite ramen recipes (mayonnaise, really?) and enthusiastic appreciation for what I consider to be a pseudo-food. Sure, I ate my share back in the day, when I was kid and didn’t know any better. But now I do know better. So tonight I headed to the supermarket to gather some evidence to support my thesis that even if you’re very, very poor, you don’t have to eat ramen*.
I went to one of my local supermarkets that is about in the middle for pricing, so one might find slightly higher or lower prices than these elsewhere in town, but here’s what I found:
- Price: $0.20 per pack
- Price per Serving: $0.10, since a packet is technically 2 servings, but we all know one packet equals one serving, so the price per serving is really $0.20
- Nutrition: 380 calories/~135 from fat per packet
- Price: $2.98 for a 5-lb. bag
- Price per Serving: about $0.06, at 50 servings per bag
- Nutrition: 160 calories/5 from fat per serving
- Price: $3.79 for a 4-lb. bag
- Price per Serving: about $0.09 at 41 servings per bag
- Nutrition: 150 calories/5 from fat per serving
- Price: $2.29 for a 10-lb. bag
- Price per Serving: hard to say precisely, but less than $0.10 if there are at least 25 potatoes per bag
- Nutrition: 110 calories/0 from fat per potato
- Price: $4.49 for a 4.4-lb bag
- Price per Serving: about $0.07 at 66 servings per bag
- Nutrition: 110 calories/10 from fat per serving
Also, let’s not forget that a typical packet of ramen with seasoning contains 1,500 or more milligrams of sodium, and that doesn’t do anybody any good.
For my money, masa harina is the best buy in the entire grocery store. Mixing up a batch takes less than 30 seconds, cooking the tortillas takes about 5 minutes, and then you can top them with anything you happen to have in the house to make an incredibly filling, tasty, cheap and nutritious meal. A bag of masa and a bag of dried beans (which you can cook up in the Crock Pot) could keep you in dinners for a month for less than $10, with no fat, no cholesterol, no gluten, and plenty of protein. (Budget Bytes is a terrific resource for healthy, delicious and affordable recipes, by the way.)
And when you need a sweet treat, top those hot, fresh tortillas with butter, cinnamon and sugar. I guarantee you’ll love it.
Go get yourself some masa today! You can thank me later.