In its original form and in the versions you see all over the web, the recipe calls for packaged coleslaw from the produce aisle, but it is very easy – and much, much cheaper - to make your own. A pound of cabbage typically costs around 49-69¢ per pound and can cost as little as 29¢ a pound, whereas pre-chopped coleslaw is typically $2 per pound and up.
As you might expect, I see no point in paying triple the price – or more - for someone else’s labor.
After all, chopping cabbage and whatever other vegetables you want to include, such as celery, carrots, broccoli, etc. is a simple task that takes only minutes.
I also eliminated the ½ cup of sugar that the original recipe calls for since I simply do not see the need to add 24 teaspoons of extra sugar to my family’s diet. You read that right. That really is the amount of sugar in ½ cup.
In place of the sugar, I used balsamic vinegar to lend a bit of sweetness to the salad. Another option is to use regular cider or wine vinegar, which is much cheaper than balsamic, but also much tarter, and add a reduced amount of sugar, say, 4 -6 teaspoons (1-2 tablespoons). I find that's plenty of sweetness.
Finally, I cut down a bit on the amount of oil used in the dressing and substituted and added some water instead, since I did not want the salad to be swimming in oil.
While it still is not what I would describe as a low cal meal, it is a nutrient dense one, and the fats are the good kind. It really is a great option for the the dog days of summer or for that 4th of July or Labor Day barbecue.
It can be a side dish or the main meal, and also lends itself nicely to a wide range of possibilities in terms of the vegetables that you might like to add, or the inclusion of such options as edamame instead of the sunflower seeds as the protein source.
Or, for the total carnivores out there, you can also easily exchange diced, pre-cooked chicken or turkey for all or some of the seeds. And I could also see substituting rice noodles for the ramen to make it a gluten free dish for those who need such options.
The salad serves 6-8 meal size portions, or 10-12+ side portions. The total cost for the recipe with balsamic vinegar is about $7 to $8. That’s $1 per person for the meal, give or take a little. It would be less if you used the cheaper vinegar. Served with a nice bread of your choice, and a leafy, green salad, the cost is still only around $1.50-$1.75 per person.
The recipe takes about 15-20 minutes to put together, and about 2 hours of time in the refrigerator before ready to eat.
Here’s the recipe:
Ramen Noodle Slaw - No-Cook Dinner in a Bowl
Makes 6-8 meal portions or 10-12 side portions
Prep Time - 15-20 minutes
Total Start to Finish Time - Approximately 2 hours
Total Recipe Cost - Approximately $8.00
Total Per Person Meal Cost with Tossed Salad and Bread - $1.50-$1.75
¾ pound green cabbage - to make about 3½ cups, chopped
Small wedge of red cabbage – (optional) about ½ cup, chopped
1 large carrot
1 large stalk celery
½ of a large green pepper (optional)
1 small-medium onion (or 1 bunch of scallions)
2-3 cups sunflower seeds (about 9-10 ounces)
2 packages or ramen noodle soup, with 1 seasoning packet
(I like the ones with the slightly gingery Oriental flavoring, but you can choose any that you prefer)
½ cup water
¾ cup of canola oil
½ cup of vinegar (balsamic, cider, or wine)
1-2 tablespoons sugar (optional, if using cider or wine vinegar, but not needed at all if you're using balsamic)
Recipe continues after photos