Instant Ramen: we've all had it. It's the quintessential college meal, right next to Easy Mac. It doesn't take long to make, it's packed with sodium, and tastes perfectly fine on its own. 

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Say you want to add a little pizzazz to it, but you're too lazy to go out to the store and grab ingredients. That's where the college innovation kicks in, utilizing your dining hall and some sneaky tupperware. 

While several hundred instant ramen hacks exist, I feel like upgrading your ramen in college is much harder because of the lack of fresh ingredients readily available to you. 

With that being said, I was inspired to create some concoctions with what's available in my dining hall. Personally, I'm very experimental with everything I cook, so I wanted to see how this would turn out. Granted, dining halls will always serve something different (depending on the school, location, or day), I started off simple by grabbing some fried peppers, grilled chicken, and dumplings, but you could grab any other fresh or cooked meat or veggies you want.

Recipe 1: Ramen with grilled chicken and dumplings

For my first attempt, I kept it simple and just shredded up the chicken as I boiled ramen. Once the ramen finished, I threw in the bits of chicken, and tossed a dumpling on top with some freshly ground black pepper.

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Result: Fantastic. It's exactly what you would expect, and took less than three minutes to prepare as the chicken was already cooked, and the dumpling just had to be warmed up. All together, it was a simple and delicious dish that fed me for the night. 

For my next attempt, I wanted to change up the texture completely. 

Recipe #2: Stir fried ramen with peppers and chicken

For this attempt, I wasn't quite sure how it would turn out. I was actually fairly hesitant because the packets are meant for soup, so I thought the texture would be interesting if I changed that. As for the recipe, I boiled the ramen, and then drained it. After that, I put half of the soup base packet into the ramen, and mixed that around. Then, I added the peppers and the rest of my shredded chicken. I happened to have tajin seasoning and hot sauce in my dorm, so I added that for some different flavor.

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Izzy Tice

Result: Surprisingly great! All the flavors worked really well together, and I was actually a little scared it wouldn't taste that good. All ingredients considered, I would consider it a "Mexican" twist on traditional instant ramen. Beyond the normal flavors of ramen, there's a nice hint of chili lime that comes together perfectly with the peppers. Would I try this combo again? Yes.

Final Thoughts 

While I understand the simplicity of just cooking ramen by itself, I really enjoyed being able to do something a little different in preparing it, without a lot of extra work. While the extra ingredients and details may not be for everyone, I believe playing around with what's around you to improve food is something everyone should do. For me, this was just the start of utilizing my dining hall for ingredients. Hopefully, I've inspired you to work on some concoctions of your own.