Living in a ladies’ hostels in Pune can be an unparalleled experience. The people you meet, the friendships you form and all the excitement that living together brings. But one thing that hostel life doesn’t usually provide you with is great food. And you don’t exactly have the budget to order takeaways everyday. Which means you’re turning to everyone’s favourite hostel staple - instant noodles. Whether it's Maggi, Yippee, Top Ramen, Knorr, Ching’s or even Wai Wai that’s your favourite, everyone has stacks of these packets in their hostel room.

And these noodles have got you through everything: midnight cravings, exam season, lazy days, and even too-broke-for-anything-else times. But while they’re good once in a while, instant noodles aren’t exactly the best when it comes to taste or health. Take that seasoning packet that comes with the noodles for instance. Who even knows what goes into it? We know they promise flavour, but what kind of flavour? Let’s face it. You deserve better. So, it’s time to use some easy hacks to turn your instant noodles into healthy and tasty meals you actually want to eat. Throw that seasoning mix away and let’s get cooking.

A small caveat before we start. We’ve tried to keep our hacks as budget and hostel-friendly as possible. And while the end products are never going to be as healthy as your mom’s cooking, they’ll at least ensure you’re eating a vegetable or two once in a while. They are definitely going to diversify your instant noodle flavour profiles even if they aren’t substitutes for your usual rice or roti. With that in mind, let’s dive in.

Ditch the water

Think about it. If you’re boiling your noodles in plain old water, you’re not giving them a chance to reach their flavour potential. Instead, try boiling your instant noodles in some chicken or vegetable broth (you can buy stock cubes if you don’t have access to the fresh stuff in your hostel) and pack some punch into them. You can add a lot of broth if you like soupy noodles, or stick to the packet instructions if you’re just looking to add flavour. That’s not all, you can add some soy sauce and vinegar to your cooking liquid if you’re in the mood for Asian flavours. And if cheese Maggi is more your kind of thing, you could even try cooking your noodles in milk. The starch from the noodles will thicken up the liquid giving it a cheesy taste and consistency. 

Soup it up

Instant noodles + instant soup = magic. You don’t need the seasoning packet from your noodles to make soupy noodles, you can use your favourite soup instead. You’ll get a lot more flavour and the noodles will add both volume and texture to your dish. Think thukpa or chicken noodle soup made in your hostel room in minutes.

Get saucy

Dear people who eat Maggi with ketchup, it’s your time to shine. The tried and true methods of upgrading your instant noodles have always been by adding sauces. While sriracha and hot sauce are universal favourites, hoisin sauce can give your noodles a more South Asian flavour, and a generous spoon of peanut butter can remind you of your favourite Thai dishes. Play with the different condiments you have on hand for quick and flavourful hacks to your regular noodles.

Saute and scramble

A few veggies and an egg or two can take your noodles from guilty treat to nutritious meal in no time. And this is an endlessly customisable hack since you can put just about any vegetables that you have available at your girls’ PG in Baner. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, feel free to leave out the egg or even substitute it for paneer or tofu. Then the steps are simple. Saute your chopped veggies for a few minutes until they are translucent, add in your protein and scramble. Season with your favourite spices and mix into your cooked noodles for a tasty and healthy meal.

These easy hacks can help you turn your basic instant noodles into filling and delicious meals that you’ll actually want to eat. So try out one (or all of them) and you’ll have another quick recipe to add to your hostel repertoire. Because your meals should always be fit for a king.