The Surprising Truth About Ramen: Unveiling the Cheapest Prepared Food and Lesser-Known Alternatives

When it comes to cheap, quick, and easy meals, ramen noodles often top the list. These instant noodles, which originated in Japan, have become a staple in college dorms and households worldwide due to their affordability and convenience. But is ramen actually the cheapest prepared food you can buy? And are there better, less well-known alternatives? Let’s delve into the surprising truth about ramen and unveil some lesser-known alternatives.

The Cost of Ramen

Ramen is undeniably cheap. A single packet can cost as little as 20 cents, making it an attractive option for those on a tight budget. However, the cost of ramen isn’t just monetary. These noodles are often high in sodium and lack essential nutrients, which can lead to health problems if consumed regularly. So while ramen may be the cheapest option in terms of upfront cost, the potential health implications could make it a more expensive choice in the long run.

Lesser-Known Alternatives to Ramen

Fortunately, there are several healthier and still affordable alternatives to ramen. Here are a few options:

  • Rice and Beans: This classic combination is not only cheap but also nutritious. Both rice and beans are rich in fiber and protein, and when combined, they form a complete protein. A pound of each can cost less than a dollar and provide multiple meals.
  • Lentils: Lentils are another budget-friendly and nutritious option. They’re high in protein, fiber, and various essential nutrients. Plus, they’re versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes.
  • Eggs: Eggs are an inexpensive source of high-quality protein. They’re also rich in vitamins and minerals. You can boil, scramble, or fry them, or use them in a variety of dishes.
  • Canned Tuna: Canned tuna is a cheap source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also versatile and can be used in salads, sandwiches, and more.


While ramen may be the cheapest prepared food in terms of upfront cost, it’s not the most nutritious option. There are several healthier and still affordable alternatives available, such as rice and beans, lentils, eggs, and canned tuna. So next time you’re on a tight budget and need a quick meal, consider these options instead of reaching for that packet of ramen.