You don’t have to eat ramen to survive!

Ramen is one of God’s greatest gifts to the world.  Ramen lets adults save money, teenagers look like they’re eating real food when I think it’s really crushed up Doritos made into long flat noodles, and college students can eat a full meal with the seventeen cents they found in the couch cushions that day.  Not to mention ramen comes in so many flavors it feels like the menu’s always changing.

That seems wonderful, but the truth is this type of diet is not good for you.  My dad used to be a prison chaplain, and ramen was the number one food the inmates bought and traded from the prison store.  They made a whole cookbook of prison food, with ramen topping the ingredient list.

Do you want to eat like an inmate or a five-star chef?  Even on a budget?

There are better Broke Teacher foods out there.  Look through the ever-expanding broke teacher budget food section.  Pick a vegetable dish, a soup, a salad–choose something that’ll bring you health, happiness, and joy without feeling oppressed by your ramen budget.  You’ll be healthier and happier in the end.

I know, ramen equals nostalgia.  It also makes you feel like you’re getting one over on the world, buying 36 meals for four bucks.   That’s nearly a month of food!  It only weighs about a pound, and it stays good forever.

Such a temptation!

You know what else is that cheap and good?  Hummus.  Pesto.  Roasted veggies.  A pizza you made yourself.

You know what’s not cheap or good?  The copay when you have to go to the doctor and your health is out of whack because that ramen–and all the cheap foods–have caught up with you.  Besides, it’s depressing staring down a bowl of noodles all the time.  It used to remind me I was broke.

You got this!  You can eat like a gourmet chef even on your budget.

“What do I do with all these leftover packets?” you say.  “I don’t want to waste.”

If you’re just leaving cheap processed food behind, wants to help.  Here are some things you can do with these rectangles–besides eat them.   Send in your pictures, and we’ll put them on The Broke Teacher Pinterest board.

Things to do with ramen besides eat it:

Build furniture

I’m thinking of building a coffee table.  A little glue and lacquer, and the ramen legs will support an artfully painted plywood top.  I also considered building a ramen nightstand and end table where I can put my tea as I write.

Make a door stop.

The size and shape of a block of ramen makes it a beautiful doorstop.  Simply paint it brown and glue some skidproof rubber on the bottom, and you’ve got a quality doorstop for your classroom or home.

Use it as fuel

I have a woodstove.  It’s hard to chop and stack wood, though it’s certainly cost-effective.  Luckily, I haven’t run out of wood yet, but if I did, I’d use leftover ramen.  It’s lightweight and easy to stack.  The high fat content in the noodles makes it excellent fire starter in case I’m ever running low on wood.  Take it outside to your campfire and toast a few marshmallows over it in the summer.

Make blocks for the classroom

Get a gallon of non-toxic glue.  Dye the glue whatever color you want the blocks to be.  Dip the noodle blocks in the glue, one side at a time so you don’t accidentally glue the blocks to your table.  Wait a day for each side to dry.  Voila–you’ve got a set of building blocks that were much cheaper than hardwood blocks from the store.  Kids can make classroom creations for all eternity.

Make a ramen picture frame

For this application, you’ll want to open the packages and paint the rectangles a real artsy color like gold or silver.  Then, print and crop your favorite family or class photo and glue it to one side.  The shape of the ramen makes it naturally stand up–it’s a perfect desktop picture frame.  Or, if you want to hang it on a wall, you can sew a string through the back and make it part of a 3D display of ramen frames that’ll jazz up any room–a real showstopper of a family or class collage.

Make a bird feeder

Spread peanut butter on the ramen and coat with birdseed.  Hang outside your window and watch the birds come.  Don’t do this if you live in the city.  It’ll attract urban squirrels and rats.  Urban squirrels are some of the toughest creatures known to man.

One time, I saw a squirrel carry a peanut butter jar from our closed recycling container into our neighbor’s tree and throw it at the man’s head while he was fixing his car.  “It’s empty, you jerk,” said the squirrel, demanding a full jar.

Don’t make this animal treat if you live in the city–only in the country where the squirrels and birds are the ones from Disney movies.  It’s just too great a risk.

Use it for packing

If you feel guilty about using a lot of bubble wrap when you package things, use ramen instead.  It takes up air space in packages, and it’s completely biodegradable.  I think.  I’m not sure how long it takes to digest, though.

Use it to fill a bookshelf

When your books are tipped because you need one or two more books to fill a shelf, don’t spend the money on another book you’ll just have to read.  Use ramen to hold the books tight instead.

Shoot it

Ramen makes a very good clay pigeon for skeet shooting, and a fantastic bullseye for archery.  If you live in a part of the country where these are routine weekend sports, you know how expensive targets can be.  Instead of wasting your money on clay targets or bails of hay you’ll only have to clean up after, unwrap your ramen and throw it in the air and shoot that.  There’s zero cleanup–let the ants do the rest.

Use ramen in a snowball fight

There are days when you really want to have a snowball fight but the snow won’t pack right.  Use ramen instead.  It’s lightweight, so it’s mostly safe–at least safer than when someone packs a snowball with ice.

Maybe you’re a Southerner who always wanted to have a snowball fight, but you just don’t have snow, and somehow throwing rocks just didn’t seem right?  Use your ramen now!

Give it away on the next holiday

Wrap it ramen with a beautiful bow and give it to the person who annoys you most.  This’ll take a bit of acting–you must look convincing. “Aunt Edna, I know how much you love to get right back to your knitting, and this cooks so quick!”  “Principal Tom, I see you have eighty-six evaluations to complete and I want to make sure you’ve had a hot meal.”

Just don’t eat it!

Whether you use your leftover ramen in construction or crafting, for gifting or gardening–it won’t go to waste.  It has a million uses.  By using ramen anywhere but your meals, you’ll get your creative mind in gear and your diet will transform to a whole new level.  The possibilities for ramen are limitless.  Just don’t eat it!