I went into college with a superfluous yet sure goal: I would not eat a single bite, nonetheless a whole bowl, of Ramen until I had a diploma in my hand. Why? I’m not entirely sure. I guess I didn’t want to be the average broke college student who didn’t know how to cook a real meal with actual nutritional value. And I made it–not a single bite of those overly-salted noodles in all four years.
Recently, I found myself at the dinner table, a few years post-grad, with a bowl of Ramen steaming in front of me. I slurped up every last bite.
A few months ago, the plan was to take off to Japan for the month of January–the classic “Japanuary” ski dream. And then we ended up on a 6-week road trip/vacation from Alaska to San Diego to Maui, and finally back to Colorado where we were immediately struck with the old first/last/deposit to move into a structure not on wheels for the winter. Needless to say, we didn’t quite have the cash for a round-trip ticket to Sapporo, not to mention spare change for sushi. But I had traded a company trip to Mexico for a few weeks off during ski season, and I wasn’t about to let that opportunity slide. So we opted for a budget-friendly version of the ultimate ski trip. Instead of flying across the world to another country, we’re going to do what we always do: hop in the truck and drive North. Washington, Whistler, Revelstoke, Big Sky, and Jackson: because gas money to British Columbia is cheaper than airfare to Japan, and grocery store Ramen is cheaper than fresh sushi.
While I may be pinching pennies in order to make the dream of a multi-week road trip through Powder Town a reality, I refuse to eat meals entirely devoid of nutrients. Thus, I have compiled a list of ways to spice up Ramen noodles while staying under budget–all for the sake of more powder days. These Ramen-based meals are also conveniently easy to prepare from the tailgate of a truck, in a tent vestibule, inside a van, or in a friend’s kitchen. Whether you just spent all your money on a trad rack and live at the base of a crag, pay rent in a ski town and recently added a new pair of sticks to your quiver, or just want to experience Canadian powder for the first time, these Ramen recipes will help keep the dirtbag dream alive while simultaneously providing the body with some necessary nutrients.
- Throw some thinly sliced carrots and ginger into the water just as it starts boiling. The carrots will cook and the ginger flavor will seep into the broth.
- Chop up some garlic, onion, and mushrooms to toss into the broth. This makes for an amazingly delicious combo, and–bonus!–mushrooms and onions help build your immune system.
- Throw some shredded kale and ancho chile powder into the bowl. You get some good leafy greens in your system along with a little extra spice.
- Crack an egg over top the hot noodles for some protein points. A sprinkle of chopped scallions gives some added color.
- Finally, my personal favorite: pan-fry some brussels sprouts in olive oil until the outer leaves are perfectly crispy. Toss into the Ramen once it’s done. Delicious!
All it takes is a little creativity and a hand full of veggies to make the ultimate dirtbag meal. And that’s just enough sustenance for a 17-day road trip full of ski lifts, skin tracks, and face shots. Back in college I may not have imagined that I would be getting creative with the cheapest food known to man. But I don’t think I will regret a single bite when I’m making turns through the Canadian cold smoke.