My Frugal Lunch

by Ryan Yates

Today I’m starting my weekly frugal tips series: Frugal Friday Tips. These tips will be from my own experiences and those of anyone else who would like to feature one here (just drop me a line.) I’ve also received some excellent books for Christmas about Frugal living that will make it into the weekly post.

Lunch

In my past life (before living like no one else), I would purchase lunch at work. It could have been at our canteen (love that word) or from McBurgerWopper down the street. I’ve never added up how much I was spending but I know it was alot. Of course now that I’m on a budget I made sure NOT to allocate much for lunchs, I needed to find a tasty cheap way to supply my body with calories.

Enter the Ramen

First off, I’m not in college anymore. While strolling through the grocery store one day I noticed the ramen area. I purchased a few and began my journey to become know as “The Noodle Boy” at work. I eat ramen noodles every single day at work. I will never allow myself to eat them at home, work is my ramen dojo.

The Cost

Here’s the best part about ramens, the price. I currently buy them at Sam’s Club. At Sam’s they are sold in a case of 36. The case costs $5.88 which yields a 16.3 cent price per pack. At my grocery store I can buy them individually for 18 cents or in a 6-pack for 99 cents (16.5 cents per pack). I currently consume 2 packs per sitting bringing my lunch cost to 33 cents per day and $1.65 per week.

Tricks of the Trade

ramen noodlesRamens are not very healthy and contain a lot of sodium. To combat this issue I’ve found a way to balance the sodium and still have the great taste. I use my fist to crush the noodles into smaller pieces. I then dump them into a medium sized plastic bowl, and add some water. After nuking them for 5 minutes and draining them, it’s time to add the seasoning packet. I toss one whole packet into the trash and use only 1/2 of the remaining packet. This still provides enough flavor, but saves you from raising your blood pressure with all the sodium. I choose to use chop-sticks to eat the ramens with. It keeps me in practice from my China days, and always gets me some strange looks.

I hope this gives you another option for lunch. Next week we’ll be talking about soda pop and a frugal way to have your drink without breaking the bank.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Mrs. Micah January 8, 2010 at

Fortunately about half my office pack our lunches, but it’s varied stuff. If I ate Ramen everyday I’d probably get very sick of it. My method is to cook so much of our bulk meals that I have enough for lunches too. I mix in the occasional peanut butter sandwich or egg salad sandwich for variety. Some weeks I get tired of a bulk dish very quickly, others I’m happy all week. Not nearly as cheap as Ramen but probably costs $2-4/meal. And that’s great for downtown DC!

Good for throwing out part of the packets, that’s just not healthy!

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Jeffrey Kosola January 8, 2010 at

I do take leftovers once in a while and sometimes pizza (from j o b number 2 on Mondays). I think I need to make an effort to follow your weekend cooking plan. I just don’t seem to have any energy to do that on the weekends though πŸ™

I can’t even imagine how much a daily lunch out in DC would cost, I’m glad you can keep your lunches interesting. My wife could never follow the ramen plan, she’d get bored after one day.

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the Dad, Climbing Out January 8, 2010 at

“Next week we’ll be talking about soda pop and a frugal way to have your drink without breaking the bank”

I vote for homebrewing! You can brew a 5 gallon batch of KΓΆlsch for about $23. πŸ™‚

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Jeffrey Kosola January 8, 2010 at

Ok The Dad,

You write it, I post it. Sounds like a GREAT idea.

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Christine McCarthy January 8, 2010 at

I like the Ramen noodles that come with the spicy chili oil packet. Mmm.. TJ’s has good spring onion or garlic ramen noodle bowls.

College – I could eat the stuff everyday. Now…hmmm. don’t know if I could.

I like Dad’s idea for homebrewing your own beer. Hmmmm… might be an idea, plus you get the fun of making it yourself. Now does the cost include bottling it? Or do you need to drink the whole barrel when its done? πŸ˜‰

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Jeffrey Kosola January 8, 2010 at

Thanks Christine, hey look I can call you that now πŸ™‚

I put hot sauce on my noodles, we have 10 different kinds here to use. You can also add in some leftover meat and veggies from dinner to “spice” it up a bit.

Ok The Dad, that’s two votes for BEER. I’ll look for a nice Homer Simpson picture for the post.

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the Dad January 8, 2010 at

Attaboy!

Christine, no, that does not include bottling (or kegging, bottling takes too long!), just ingredients. πŸ™‚

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Jeffrey Kosola January 9, 2010 at

Any website that has the url “morebeer” has to be good. How much experience do you have making beer Dad? I thought that’s what I was going to ask for an xmas gift, but didn’t think I would have the patience for it. Make your own anything always appeals to me.

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the Dad January 9, 2010 at

I’ve been doing it for 11 years. The kids love to help by adding the hops and stirring, but I have yet to get them to help with the cleaning, which is substantial.

Brian January 8, 2010 at

Ya know, i hate bringing stuff to work that i have to prepare. I think its me being anti-social and not liking our small kitchen area. I often sit at my desk and eat a sandwich. That said, god i miss having some Ramen. I may actually buy some as cheap meals for after hockey games. I like the idea of only adding half the packet. I will test it to make sure it tastes the same as the ramen from my youth!

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Jeffrey Kosola January 9, 2010 at

Funny, a blogger who’s anti-social at work. I understand the preparing thing. All we have is a microwave and frig. We have to exit our office area and walk at least a 100 yards to even get to a sink. It’s a huge pain. Good luck with the after hockey ramen snack, I hear it goes good with beer πŸ™‚

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Walter January 11, 2010 at

I love Ramen too but I’m a worried about it’s harmful ingredients. However, I will try your tip in minimizing its hazard, I’ll use only half of the flavoring. I hope it will work on my taste. πŸ™‚

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Jeffrey Kosola January 12, 2010 at

Hey Walter,

Ramens aren’t the best food around, but I’d rather eat a ramen than a double cheeseburger (if we’re talking about health). The trick for one package of ramens is to only use 1/4 of the seasoning packet. Use 1/2 of the packet for 2 packages of ramens. Good luck my friend

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Forest January 15, 2010 at

I generally stay away from Ramen’s even though they are super cheap…. Mostly because of the salt content. I find some pasta and homemade pasta sauce made in bulk does me just fine for a quick lunch or I make a grilled eggplant in pita….

Still I do actually like Ramen’s a lot (dunno if I should admit that!).

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Jeffrey Kosola January 15, 2010 at

Yeah, your ideas sound better. I just can’t stop with the Ramens though. I love them, I’m eating lunch right now and guess what- it’s ramens πŸ™‚

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Forest January 15, 2010 at

Ha ha!! I’m here in Egypt and Ramen’s are an import so I actually imagine them to cost more than an Egyptian fast food meal ($0.30-$0.50 for a fellafel or a plate of Koshari, pasta dish).

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Dreama January 17, 2012 at

Good to see real expertise on display. Your cotnrbuition is most welcome.

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qkivoptdpor January 19, 2012 at
Anthony January 20, 2010 at

Here’s some “food” for thought. Try searching around an Asian market. They carry dried noodles (similiar to Ramen), but there are more flavors and types. The price is roughly the same. They are usually a box of 30-something for $5/$6.

Call me a silly Vietnamese person, but Ramen seems like a cheap rip-off, the stuff at the Asian market seems more “authentic.”

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Jeffrey Kosola January 20, 2010 at

That’s a good idea Anthony, I have a local Chinese place I go to to buy my rice. After living in China, normal rice just doesn’t cut it anymore. I’ll have to look into it.

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Anthony February 12, 2010 at

After reading this post about 2 or 3 weeks back, I finally decided to save some money by becoming “The Noodle Boy” at my office. Also, I have been playing the “Drug Store Game,” and, as a result, I have purchased a bunch of Ramen noodles.

This past week was the start of my Ramen noodles adventure. I’m sure that it will continue until I am free of debt! Thanks for the inspiration!!!

One last tip: Try some lime juice (1 teaspoon or so) in your noodles. Interesting flavor!

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Jeffrey Kosola February 12, 2010 at

And then there were 2. 2 Noodle Boyz that is. Very cool Anthony. I’m sure playing the drug store game has yielded some really cheap ramens.

I usually dump some hot sauce into my ramens, but the lime juice sounds tasty. I’ll give it a try.

I hope you don’t have to eat ramens as long as I do πŸ™‚ I’m looking at being debt free the end of next summer.

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