The Miso Solution

One of the great many chains that tie people to working 9-to-5 jobs for decades, is convenience food.  Yes, convenience food!  Many individuals eat lunch outside their workplace every single day — either at a restaurant or picking up take-out from a nearby restaurant.

At $5 – $20 for every lunch, this is an extremely expensive way to attain calories for your mid-day meal.  Over time, those yuppie food coupons really add up — If you average $10 daily for your work lunches, this adds up to $2600 per year.

It’s also a pretty unhealthy way to live.  If you work a sedentary office job, you simply don’t need all those extra calories…. unless you actually happen to like being fat, poor, and chained to a desk for 40+ years.


Junk Food Lunches

The problem is, once you’ve started avoiding lunches at restaurants or take-out places, you actually have to pack a lunch.

Instead of eating last night’s delicious home cooked leftovers (like a sane person), many people start buying this garbage “instant food” from their local big box store.

angus burgers
Junk food lunch: At $2 per burger, these cheeseburgers (found at Costco) provide an easy (but unhealthy) microwavable lunch.

Junk food lunches take many forms:  burritos, instant ramen, taquitos, pizza pockets, microwave burgers, and Philly cheesesteaks.  I’ve walked the aisles of my local Costco, and I’ve seen the mountains of overpriced convenience food.  There’s literally MOUNTAINS of it.

It might taste delicious, but those are individually packaged portions of poverty and body fat.  All for the sake of convenience.

If you’ve ever read the Nutrition Facts on the back of those microwavable lunches, you’ll know it reads like the inventory of a chemical warehouse.  It would be a stretch to call regular lunches of this stuff “healthy”.

hot pocket ingredients
Actual ingredients from the back of a Hot Pocket package.

I get it though — people are busy.  You might not have leftovers in the fridge.  Maybe you don’t have the time in the evenings to make a delicious homemade sandwich (or even something fancier).  DIY lunches have to be incredibly easy.

Thankfully, as an individual intent on building incredible wealth, you don’t need to feed yourself any of that expensive crap.  Instead, you can make your own “instant” food for the cost of few pennies.


Mr. Tako’s Super Cheap Instant Miso Soup

Back when I was working, I usually tried to bring leftovers to work.  If we didn’t have any leftovers, my go-to quick lunch was instant miso soup.  Mind you — this is NOT the instant miso soup you’ve probably seen in stores:

instant miso soup

The instant stuff supplied by those crazy Amazons costs on the order of $1 per serving, which is better than eating-out…  Usually I need two of those instant soup packets to properly fill me up.  This would cost around $2.00 for lunch.

We can definitely do better than that!

My method of making instant miso soup costs far less — mere pennies to make!  Over time this adds up to serious savings.

miso soup
Mr. Tako’s Super Cheap Instant Miso Soup:  My lunch today.  I might have gone a little crazy on the green onions for this batch… but that’s just how I roll.

So how do I make it?  Did I spend countless hours in the kitchen brewing this fantastic soup?  Nope!  Three minutes of prep is all it takes.  Really, just three minutes!

It’s extremely simple:

instant miso soup ingredients

Servings: 1 person — 2 cups (which is a healthy sized bowl of soup).

Prep time: 2-3 minutes.

Cook time: 4 minutes in the microwave.


Ingredient Amount Cost
Miso Paste 2 tbs $0.20
Soft Tofu (cubed) 1/10 of block cubed $0.15
Dashi 1/2 tsp $0.05
Green Onion (chopped) ~1 tbs Free (from my economic garden)
Total Cost: $0.40


Cooking Steps:

Step 1.  Add ingredients (in listed amounts) to your bowl.  Keep ingredients refrigerated until eating.

Step 2.  When it’s lunch time, add 2 cups of water and heat in the microwave (4 minutes in my microwave).

Step 3.  Mix the miso paste into the hot water thoroughly.

Step 4.  Eat!


Get Real

OK, so technically this isn’t the “proper” way to make miso soup.  I consider this kind of a “hack” recipe.

I’m aiming for convenience and cost savings here, not thousands of years of miso soup making tradition.  Japanese food purists might burn me at the stake for it, but this recipe actually works!

If you ask me, it tastes just as delicious as miso soup made over a stovetop, and yet only costs 40 cents!!

Feel free to alter the amounts, or add additional ingredients to your preference.  I like a lot of green onions and miso paste in mine.  [Note: Softboiled eggs are also fantastic in miso soup.  They’re cheap, and add plenty of protein.]

If your workplace lacks refrigeration, that’s not a problem — Just top off your soup container with ice cubes to keep the ingredients cold.  When they melt, there’s just less water to add.


Final Thoughts

Any time you can make lunch for under $1/day, you’ll make fantastic progress towards financial independence.  It’s like hitting the “Turbo” button on the game controller of life.  You’ll just get to financial independence that much faster when “Turbo” is on.

Whether you’re saving for financial independence (or just trying to eat healthier lunches), making your own lunches is a fantastic way to save money.   This recipe was one of my favorite cheap lunches when I worked an office job.

It’s healthy, filling, quick, and most of all cheap — exactly what I needed to get through another day of wage slavery.

Give it a try, and you might find yourself a little richer.

27 thoughts on “The Miso Solution

  • August 12, 2017 at 8:22 AM

    haha this is awesome Mr. Tako!

    There are actually many ways to eat fast, healthy and cheap the same time! Miso is definitely one of my favorites. I also use them in noodles or do it Korean style with other veggies. I have been into meal prepping lately and it’s working out very well for me.
    Mao recently posted…My Love-Hate Relationship with California and New York

  • August 12, 2017 at 9:10 AM

    Mr. Tako!

    Any time anyone posts food pics, I’m there, even if it’s as simple as miso soup! We just started really focusing on eating smarter (financially) and now meal plan. This is a great idea. I’ve forgotten how easy it is to prepare miso soup. It is especially good with sandwiches. My idea of fusion. Try it.

  • August 12, 2017 at 11:03 AM

    I love miso soup. I’ve made a ton for myself. I used to learn Japanese in college and was exposed to a lot of Japanese cuisine thanks to my professor and Japanese friends. Do you also add rice or anything else to the soup? I usually add seaweed and rice so that it can fill me up. 😀

    • August 12, 2017 at 12:55 PM

      Sometimes I’ll add things like seaweed, egg, or potato, but generally I’m happy with the “simple” version supplied above.

      Mrs. Tako is big on adding wakame to hers.

  • August 12, 2017 at 2:14 PM

    That sounds awesome Mr.Tako! I take left overs everyday, but have yet to try soup for lunch. My problem is that I eat in the car since I drive to all my client’s houses during the day, which presents a few issues. A) there is no microwave B) the spill factor. I would love to enjoy some miso soup every so often, but I have to figure out how to get it hot enough and how to not have it end up all over me (since usually I am driving while eating my lunch). This whole work thing is definitely cramping my lunch style!

  • August 13, 2017 at 7:26 AM

    I’m so glad to get your cheap recipe, because the “instant miso” is way expensive, and Mr. ThreeYear loves it. Just got a container of miso from a friend the other day (what timing!) so now, to buy some dashi and we’re all set! 🙂

    • August 14, 2017 at 8:39 AM

      The instant powdered form from Ajinomoto is probably the easiest to use! You can buy really small packages, or a larger one (like I linked to above).

      We use dashi all the time for Japanese dishes, so we buy the big version from Cash and Carry. Amazon’s price is more expensive, but they can ship it to you anywhere.

      • August 18, 2017 at 3:47 AM

        Thanks for the tip, Mr. Tako. We have an Asian food store that I’m going to check out; prices are usually pretty good. If not, we’ll order from Amazon. In the meantime, I made my own dashi from some mushrooms that were about to go bad and some fish sauce (I Googled it; it may be a disaster). We still haven’t made the miso but the ingredients are at hand!! 🙂 I’m excited to try it!

    • August 13, 2017 at 9:15 PM

      You’ve never eating miso soup!?!? Amazing! Miso soup can be as hearty or as light as you prefer. The tofu is plenty filling for lunch, but I prefer a heartier version for dinner … usually adding egg, potato, or the like.

      • August 13, 2017 at 9:25 PM

        Never ever. I now recognise it’s been served to me on the side of a Japanese dish I order at the markets, but the main dish is so filling I never touch the soup.

        I think I’ll give it a go – going to have to brave the Japanese stores to find Dashi though
        LadyFIRE recently posted…Save money, the environment and your vagina

        • August 14, 2017 at 8:42 AM

          You should definitely try it. It’s one of the most accessible (acceptable?) Japanese dishes for beginners.

          Most people love it, even kids! (Well, at least my kids do!)

  • August 13, 2017 at 9:10 PM

    The angus Costco cheese burger is pretty delicious….and goes on sale a couple times a year. Bet it would taste good dunked in miso soup : )

  • August 14, 2017 at 7:14 AM

    That’s exactly how I make miso soup at home. On the stove instead of microwave, though. It’s a great companion to most Asian food.

    • August 14, 2017 at 8:48 AM

      I still make it on the stove when I’m preparing it for dinner. Mainly because I make a larger batch.

      For small batches it works fine in the microwave.

      I actually invented my “instant” version one day while making a stovetop version. I thought to myself, “Why do i need to boil this water?”.

  • August 16, 2017 at 2:19 PM

    I love miso soup, I have some packages of it in my cupboard and also have some miso soup paste in my fridge. I like that you would have tofu in it to add the protein. Unfortunately miso soup wouldn’t cut it for my husband lol he eats tons and always has to have some sort of meat for his meal.
    GYM recently posted…Comment on 450 Square Feet and a Baby by genymoney

    • August 16, 2017 at 9:27 PM

      Yes, it’s unfortunate that males in this country expect to eat massive quantities of animal flesh. It’s very much a cultural thing.

      Animal ranchers love it, but your pocketbook doesn’t. 😉

  • August 19, 2017 at 10:15 AM

    I haven’t eaten before a miso soup, but I’ll give it a go after seeing this blog post.
    I’m not spending that much on food, at least that’s what I was thinking, but when it comes to yearly cost that is significant.

  • August 23, 2017 at 11:58 AM

    Super cool! I love miso soup and had never heard of Dashi until this post.

    Back when we were working, I’d make 4 portions for dinner so that we’d always have leftovers for lunch and that helped me saved a ton of time. Now when we travel, I tend to go for my tried and true Waterzooi recipe, which consists of only 5 ingredients, takes less than 30 mins to make, and has enough leftovers for at least 2 days.

    I’m going to have to try your miso soup recipe one of these days…

    • August 23, 2017 at 12:22 PM

      Dashi is almost synonymous with Japanese cuisine. It’s in nearly every dish, and there are dozens of varieties. I use the most common dry bonito version (because it’s cheap and convenient), but many “traditionalists” still make it by simmering bonito flakes.

      Thanks for sharing about Waterzooi! I’d never heard of that dish before! 🙂


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