Instant Foods that Aren't Just Instant Noodles

With a land unbelievably rich in culture and a society that never seems to sleep, food is hardly an issue any time of the day, where ever you are. 24-hour eateries like Indian Muslim mamak, Chinese coffee shops offering a dazzling array of lunch options, and Malay roadside breakfast stalls are all ready to satisfy anyone, anywhere, at any time of day.

But as abundant as there is food, there are some days where we just cannot handle going outside and interacting with other people. When this happens, most of us will turn to the comfort of instant food, an Asian innovation designed for convenience and a quick meal.

The entire world is familiar with instant noodles, but recent debate has questioned its nutritional value for staple steady consumption. But if you’re still wanting a meal that takes less than 2 ingredients and *possibly* less than 10 minutes to make, we’ve got some suggestions!

Bubur Lambuk

instant food

Rejoice for there is an instant version of this Malay Ramadan delicacy! While the only producer we’ve seen so far is Quaker Oats (meaning the spiced porridge has an oatmeal base instead of rice), this is a pure hug-in-a-mug for tired stomachs.

Ingredients: 1 sachet of Quaker’s Instant Multigrain Porridge Bubur Lambuk flavour, hot water
Prep time: 3 minutes wait

Couscous

instant food couscous
Image credit: Marco Verch

These tiny grains of durum wheat semolina are found in North Africa’s staple dishes, and are surprisingly easy to prep. Often sold by the box in certain Malaysian grocery stores (Village Grocer, Jaya Grocer, Ben’s, Cold Storage), this is one item many need to realise is an absolute pantry necessity. Its versatility with any flavour means it does not need an overtly complicated recipe to start off with. Simply toss it with plain salt and pepper, or add flavoured oils such as sesame or chilli for a quick late-night bite.

Ingredients: 1/2 cup of dry couscous, hot water, salt and pepper, dry herbs optional
Prep time: 8 minutes wait

Eggs

instant food eggs
Image credit: Katherine Chase

Do not let those horror stories of egg-frying gone bad scare you off! The egg is too flexible to just be eaten fried. Boiled, microwaved, scrambled, steamed—there is no end to preparing the egg for any meal of the day. Not to mention, it is also a great source of protein to add to just about every leftover or other instant foods.

Ingredients: Egg, (really anything you can think of in adding to it will yield savory to sweet results)
Prep time: <10 minutes in cooking

Pasta

instant food pasta
Image credit: Justino Sanchez

The more popular wheat grain variant in most cupboards, pasta is practically an instantaneous meal when boiled down to basics. On the stovetop or in the microwave, these noodles are a great alternative to the constant slew of instant noodle-binging. Like couscous and eggs, pasta can be eaten as simply as tossed with butter and salt, or a real treat with that can of sardine you bought but have no idea what to do with. Or else, there are numerous instant pasta sauces that you could just heat, then add to your noodles. Sprinkle generous amounts of cheese for that extra special gooey-ness and flavour.

Ingredients: Pasta, boiling water, salt, butter
Prep time: <10 minutes in boiling

Not only are these foods quick to make, they are also a strong base for developing even the most basic of culinary skills, and can be your stepping stone for more balanced meals. Just trust in your taste buds and keep a low fire on the stove! If you prefer microwaving, remember to keep checking in with your food so it does not bubble over.

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