Why You Should Put Down That Ramen!

August 28th 2014

Alece Oxendine

There are two types of ramen: the delicious Japanese noodle soup and the instant soup distributed by companies such as Nissin and Maruchan. At any grocery store in New York City, the average cost for one pack of ramen noodles is 39 cents-the equivalent of one serving. The instant soup is widely popular with low income earners and college students.

The college staple that was first introduced into American diets in the 1970s is getting some pushback as more and more people are trying to implement better food options in their diet. Ramen packs a whopping 875mg of sodium which is almost half of the recommended daily intake, barely any nutritional value, and is know to cause certain heart risks in women. Not to mention that it takes almost two and a half hours to breakdown in the GI tract according to a TEDx video release two years ago (warning graphic images of your insides!!)

But what is the alternative when ramen noodles are so cheap?

I went to grocery stores in three boroughs in New York City and compared some food averages. For comparison sake, the price for a spaghetti dinner for a single parent family of three costs $12 total with meat and $4 without meat-depending on how you like your spaghetti. 

$1 for a box of pasta
$3 for jar of sauce
$8 for 2lbs of ground beef

That's without factoring the cost of juice, salad, or bread-those items are just too much. That's $4 per serving with meat, $1.33 meatless.

What if that parent makes minimum wage? A spaghetti dinner 7 nights a week can cost $84 a week. On minimum wage, that person can bring in $77 a week after bills, rent, and other necessities are paid. For that same family, a ramen dinner can cost only $1.17 a night and a ramen dinner for 7 nights is $8.19-less than the amount of one night of spaghetti. Ramen seems like the better option. 

Another reason instant ramen is so popular (besides being so cheap) is that it has a long shelf life. Ramen is a great addition in a care package, or in dorm-living where there's only access to hot water late at night. Also noteworthy is that eating processed foods like ramen can cause people to overeat. It's called the Freshman Fifteen for a reason! So what is a student or person living on minimum wage supposed to do to eat cheaply and healthily?

Here is an infographic outlining some meal options that are close to the amount of everyone's favorite noodles. These are just averages based in a metropolitan area and could be cheaper or more expensive based on your area.

Ramen Infographic