Poor Man’s Alfredo

Down to a few crumbs in the fridge and pantry? Got two or three days before payday? Believe me, I know the feeling.
Times like these are when it pays off to get a little creative.

Let’s take a quick inventory.
If you’ve grown accustomed to be being broke, chances are you’ve got some Ramen noodles lying about. Am I right?
OK, so Ramen noodles, check.
Next, hopefully you have a little milk that hasn’t soured yet. Yes? OK, check.
How about butter? Not even a half-stick? How about a few packets swiped from McDonald’s or your favorite food pantry? OK, then. Check.
Happen to have a wedge of aged Romano and a grater? No, I didn’t think so. How about some grated Parmesan? No? Not even a few packets pilfered from your favorite pizza joint? Look again. Oh, yeah, forgot about Saturday night, didn’t you? All right, then. Check.

Pantry check:

Fresh garlic? Didn’t think so. How about powder? OK, that’ll do — in fact, it’s bonus.
Fresh peppercorn grinder? No? Any black pepper? Check that junk drawer. There it is. We may not be world-class chefs, but we’re not Philistines either. Or are we? Don’t answer that.
Now this is critical. Do you still have power and a functioning stove? Or a least a hot plate or microwave? Then we’re in business!

OK, in summary:


  • One package (more if you’re really hungry) Ramen-style noodles
  • Butter, hopefully at least a quarter-stick
  • Reasonably unsoured milk
  • Parmesan cheese in any amount you can scrape up
  • Garlic and pepper (optional — hell, everything but the noodles is optional)


In small pot, bring water to a boil. You do know how to boil water, right?
Place noodle pack (no, take it out of the package, idiot!) in boiling water, let cook about 3 minutes.
Drain most of the water out of the pan. Don’t use a colander (as if you had one!) because most of the noodles will slide right through. Trap the noodles with a fork or whatever. You don’t have to drain it dry, just do your best.
Reduce heat to low and return pot to stove.
Stir in butter and milk. Let’s not get pretentious and require precise measurements. You ain’t Julia Child or Anthony Bordain. Eyeball it: Use enough to bathe those precious Ramen noodles that go for a buck a six-pack.
Now sprinkle with Parmesan and pretend it’s freshly grated Romano pecorino. Stir.
Remove from heat. Let it sit for a couple or three minutes.
Sprinkle with garlic and pepper (again, optional, and if you’re with a poor date, be careful how much garlic you use)


It’s actually surprisingly good!

Serving suggestion

Results may vary

OK, OK, here’s what it really looks like. And after throwing together a second batch, I have to say it’s one of the better Alfredos I’ve had. Def beats sauce in a jar!

Photo courtesy of Studio on Washington





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