Kitchen Central

Quick Easy and Inexpensive Phở

April 2, 2019


Over the years we have experienced times where money was very tight so I learned ways to turn everyday inexpensive food into exciting and adventurous meals. When you’re watching Food Network or thumbing through a cookbook suddenly you see something you would love to make but you know all the ingredients are beyond your reach you learn to improvise. Will it taste like what you just saw on TV? If its something you have never tried before how would you know the difference? As long as you like it and your family likes it. Go for it!

I love to turn simple ingredients into something different. My term for my recipes is Semi-Homemade budget-friendly food. Some may disagree with this being called a recipe because I use some boxed or prepared ingredients. But if you can take a packet of dollar Top Ramen and turn it into an Amazing bowl of delicious Phở then to me this is a recipe.

What is Phở?

Phở or pho is a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat, primarily made with either beef or chicken.  Phở is a popular street food in Vietnam and a specialty in a number of restaurant chains around the world.

The first time I had it my daughter and I went to a little Vietnamese restaurant across from the courthouse while tending to business downtown. We both were fighting colds and not feeling good at all. We honestly had no idea what  Phở was. After asking the wonderful elder lady at the counter what was good to eat, inexpensive and light she recommended the Phở. To my utter shock, it was a HUGE bowl of noodles and a steaming broth that smelt like heaven.  In a dish on the side, it had RAW steak and we had zero clues what to even do it with. ( We were told that the broth was hot enough to cook it and to just put it in the bowl. So we did and watched as the meat began to turn a gray color. We were also given a dish with a few vegetables and herbs. At that point, the lady could tell we were doing it all wrong…She came to our rescue and explained how to use the sides and sauces. This was my first experience with Thai Basil, Hoisin Sauce, and Chili Paste. I fell in love with the Thai Basil and I learned that the Chili Paste is SPICY. But the combination of everything was pure heaven. Feeling horrible from our colds we expected to barely make a dent in these huge bowls but we about licked our bowls clean. We both swore this delicious bowl of goodness had cured us because we felt refreshed and relaxed after eating it.

I think it was at least a year later that I had Phở again and once again I was infatuated with its taste and what I called healing powers. When someone wasn’t feeling good Phở was what we ate. But as time went on it became expensive to feed a family at $15 a serving. I wanted Phở at a more economical price so I decided I was going to come up with my own recipe. Mind you at the time we were broke money was so tight that the Dollar store was our grocery store. I had to find all my ingredients to feed 4 for less than $20. The only thing I had at home was some frozen Ham Hocks. I can do this let’s go shopping.

So here it is my Quick Easy and Inexpensive Phở. I have made these dozens of times since my first trip to Dollar store and to this day no matter how much money we have or don’t have I still buy what I can at the Dollar store.

I hope that you will enjoy this recipe as much as we have.


Quick Easy and Inexpensive Phở

Phở or pho is a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat, primarily made with either beef or chicken. 
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 20 mins
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: Budget Friendly, Easy, Phở, Soup
Servings: 4 people
Author: Becky Wood



  • 3 Ham Hocks Don't use the smoked Hocks
  • 1/2 Medium Onion Peeled
  • 2 Cloves Garlic Peeled,Whole
  • 10-15 Leaves Thai Basil (I grow this but it can be found at most grocery stores)
  • 1/4 tbsp Ginger Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Cilantro Clean with stems and all
  • 3 Season Packs from Top Ramen Any meat flavor. I use 1 chicken, 1 shrimp and 1 Pork
  • 2 Season Packs from Soy Sauce flavored Top Ramen Dont discard your ramen noodles you will need these!
  • 10 Cups Water

Add Ins

  • 1 Bunch Cilantro
  • Bean Sprouts I buy the prepackaged bagges and it more than enough
  • 8-10 Leaves Thai Basil
  • 1 Large Onion sliced in half moons
  • 1 Bundle Radishes Sliced thin
  • 1 Lime Cut in wedges
  • Sambal Chili Paste To Taste
  • Hoisin Sauce To Taste
  • Soy Sauce To Taste
  • 1/2 Pound Pork Loin Sliced Thin*


  • Place all Broth Ingredients in a large pot, stir and cover with lid
  • Cook on Medium-Low for 2 to 3 hours. Time will vary on the size of Ham Hock. You can use any meat you have on hand. I have use Chicken and Beef. Don't use boneless meat you need the bones to get the flavor.
  • Strain broth through a fine mesh strainer. Bring back up to a simmer
  • Add Sliced meat of your choice. I used Pork Loin for this recipe. I have found that if the meat is slightly frozen its easier to get very thin slices. 
  • Add Ramen noodles and cook on for 8 minutes or until noodles are done.
  • Serve in a deep bowl, leave room for add-ins
  • Select which add-in you want in your Pho and layer on top. I add a little of everything. Tear the Thai Basil and Cilantro when you add it. The Hoisin, Sambal and Thai Basil are what make this a perfect dish. If you don't like spicy you can skip the Sambal. 
  • Give it a good mix to incorporate all your add-in.
  • Enjoy and play around with different proteins and Ramen flavors. Make it your own!

I hope you find this recipe useful and enjoy a steaming hot bowl of Phở for your next dinner. Let me know in the comments if you made this and what changes you made to make it your own.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *