How To Level Up Your Boring $2 Instant Noodles

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How To Level Up Your Boring $2 Instant Noodles

STORY: Pearlyn Tham
28 February 2020
GIF: Pearlyn Tham

Admit it: you got nervous and hoarded – okay, bought – too many packets of instant noodles a few weeks ago.

And now you don’t know what to do with all these slabs of dehydrated carbs. Or what to eat with them, besides the MSG-powered seasoning powder they came with.

Here’s a step-by-step guide, complete with calorie count, on how your $2.50 instant noodles can go from #meh to #MaggiCanLookLiddatMeh?

LEVEL #1: It’s never plain noodles

There’s just so much variety out there on the shelves (that is, when they haven’t been emptied) these days that there’s no such thing called plain instant noodles anymore. Think herbal duck, “white” curry, Hokkaido milk seafood and chilli crab flavours. Also, read our piece on "Haven't Tried These Instant Noodles? You Should Be Having FOMO".

How much it will cost you in calories:

Depending on the brand, flavour and size, you’re looking at a considerable 400 calories per cup or packet. And we know some of you swig two portions in one serving.

How much it will cost you in dollars and cents:

Anything from $1.50 a pack to… $1,000 for an NTUC Chicken Flavour cup noodles we spotted on Lazada (pictured above). We will tell you what the latter tastes like once we set up our GoFundMe account.

LEVEL #2: Eggs in any and every way

Whoever first discovered eggs could be eaten in so many ways deserves a Nobel Prize IMHO. If you can’t fry a sunny side up without breaking the yolk, simply throw in a beaten egg which lends the otherwise-synthetic soup some unami.

How much it will cost you in calories:

A fried egg has 200 calories so for a healthier meal, crack an egg into your noodle soup instead.

How much it will cost you in dollars and cents:

Just $0.50 a piece or less, unless you are really atas and only buy Japanese premium eggs from Meidi-ya.    

LEVEL #3: Add some lycopene

In human language, that is “add some tomatoes”. Helps to reduce the guilt from eating carbs and carbs from a packet at that.

How much it will cost you in calories:

One cherry tomato has only three calories so fill up as much as you want.

How much it will cost you in dollars and cents:

Based on their country of origin and grade, a box of these sweet juicy orbs costs anything from $3 to $12.    

LEVEL #4: Spam me, please

The only kind of spam we like is the kind from a can. And we like it most when these bad boys are dunked into a bowl of hot salty soup.

How much it will cost you in calories:

One slice can take up about 100 calories from your meal count. But really, who stops at one?

How much it will cost you in dollars and cents:

If you are old-school, Maling is less than $3. If you are feeling rich, there are iberico and even mala versions now.    

LEVEL #5: V is for veggies

Because those dust-size bits of dehydrated spring onions from your packet of seasoning don’t count as greens.

How much it will cost you in calories:

A bunch of kai lan or Shanghai greens has almost no calories and er, makes your bowl look so much prettier for Instagram posts.

How much it will cost you in dollars and cents:

Anything from $2 for a pack.    

LEVEL #6: You’re such a (fish)baller

For when you crave fishball noodles at 1am.

How much it will cost you in calories:

Fishballs aren’t calorific – five of them have just 100 calories – but they are made with a lot of sodium.

How much it will cost you in dollars and cents:

$4 gets you a dozen of these. Yep, don’t break your heart thinking why your bowl of fishball mee pok – with three miserable balls – at your food court costs $7.    

LEVEL #7: Oh, crab

TBH, we wanted to throw in a luxe crab claw but decided to be more prudent so here are some crabsticks instead.

How much it will cost you in calories:

One stick has 35 calories.

How much it will cost you in dollars and cents:

For $3 or less, you get a generous stack of these.    

LEVEL #8: Scallop-ing away

Some say scallops are just upper-class versions of springy fishcakes. You decide.

How much it will cost you in calories:

Eat all you want because one scallop has only 18 calories.

How much it will cost you in dollars and cents:

Buy them frozen and they will cost you about $35 for a box of about 20 pieces.    

LEVEL #9: Prawn star

Instant noodles, instant hae mee. Almost.

How much it will cost you in calories:

One tiger prawn has only six calories. And all these calorie watchers thinking grilled chicken breast is the holy grail.

How much it will cost you in dollars and cents:

The bigger they are, the more expensive they get. If you shop around, some supermarkets offer six to eight plump prawns for $6.

LEVEL #10: It’s a load of abalone 

We know CNY has come and gone but there’s no reason why you can’t indulge, even with your bowl of humble instant noodles.

How much it will cost you in calories:

If you get the canned version, one tin has about 180 calories.

How much it will cost you in dollars and cents:

In general, a can will set you back $40.    

Photo: Pearlyn Tham

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TAGS: Local Food , Tips and Tricks , FOOD , Recipes
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