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Instant ramen noodles have a lot going for them: they’re quick to prepare and create a warm, filling, and comforting snack. They’re portable and pocket-friendly. So why meal-prep your own ramen? Homemade instant ramen is far more delicious and nutritious and is as quick and cheap to make.
- How to Meal Prep Ramen
- Benefits of Meal-Prepping Ramen
- Related Questions
How to Meal Prep Ramen
If you went through college living on ramen packets made with the kettle in your dorm room, you probably have a soft spot for these noodles. My family loves them, so I decided to try meal-prepping them when I realized how many chemicals the store-bought packets contain, and they were fantastic! Here’s how you meal-prep ramen noodles.
1. Clean Your Mason Jars
For those who haven’t discovered the joy of mason jars, let me wax lyrical. The humble glass jar is more than a container for canned peaches or pickles.
For meal-preppers, mason jars are a creative, convenient, and effective way of transporting healthy meals and keeping them fresh. These meal-prep ramen noodles stay fresh in mason jars, with unwilted veggies and firm noodles for five days.
Wash out four 16-oz mason jars thoroughly, dry them, and set aside. Make sure each jar has a tightly fitting lid. If you’ve got a massive appetite, use a 24-oz jar for a heartier portion.
2. Create Your Broth Mix
Throw out any little spice packets that usually come with instant ramen. Although they may make your noodle soup taste spicy and savory, they contain high sodium levels. Consuming too much sodium is dangerous and is linked to high blood pressure and risk of heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
To create a wholesome instant broth, you will use natural ingredients. Add the following to each of the jars:
- 1 teaspoon bouillon powder (vegetable, chicken, or beef)
- 1 teaspoon of nutritional yeast
- 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon of onion powder
- 1/8 teaspoon of ginger
- ½ teaspoon of sesame seeds
Add any other spices or dried herbs you’d enjoy. You can also add liquid flavorings, about a quarter to half teaspoon of each per jar. For example:
- sesame oil
- soy sauce or coconut aminos
- sriracha sauce
- chili sauce
- oyster sauce
- hoisin sauce
These ramen noodles are an excellent place for the last drops of sauce. Instead of those almost-finished bottles standing in the fridge, I like using odd remnants of sauces to add flavor to my broth.
3. Meal-Prep Your Vegetables
When I’m home from the market, I wash, peel, and chop my vegetables for the week. I pack some ready-as snacks and prepare the rest in line with the meals I’m prepping: this approach is a boon to my time-starved existence.
For homemade ramen, you can use just about any vegetable. For four servings, you’ll need three cups of vegetables made up of any of the following:
- shredded cabbage or rainbow slaw
- grated carrots and zucchini
- shelled edamame beans
- finely chopped greens like bok choy, spinach, and kale
- sliced bell peppers
- chopped mushrooms
- broccoli or cauliflower florets
- slivered snap peas
- diced spring or green onions
If someone in your family avoids carbs or gluten, create some zucchini spirals or zoodles to replace the ramen noodles in their pots.
Divide the vegetables between four mason jars, excluding any leafy greens. They will be added later. Alternatively, make single-serve packets of vegetables, label them, and freeze meal prep until needed.
4. Avoid Soggy Noodles
The downfall of a meal-prepped ramen meal is soggy noodles, which break apart and melt away into the broth. To avoid mushy noodles:
- Cook the noodles in advance, but only until just tender. They need to be firm.
- Drain the noodles and rinse thoroughly with cold water.
- Layer the noodles on top of the vegetables. They should not come into contact with any liquid ingredients. They will absorb the liquid and become soggy.
- Top the noodles with any leafy green veg you want to include.
For freezer meal preppers, you can freeze individual portions of noodles but will have to thaw them before layering up your ramen jar.
I sometimes change the noodles by using rice noodles or vermicelli. These noodles are so fine that you can add the dry noodles to the jar, and they’ll cook through when you soak them in boiling water.
5. Add Protein
The final layer of your ramen jar is protein if you still need a nutritional boost. You could add tofu, cooked chicken, or beef.
To add eggs, boil them in advance and keep them in the fridge. Pack an egg with each mason jar, and slice the egg in once you’ve added boiling water.
If you add chicken or beef, ensure they are thoroughly heated when you add boiling water to the noodles.
6. Keep in the Fridge
Once you’ve layered the ingredients, close the jars tightly. Store your ramen in the fridge for up to five days.
7. Mix and Serve
All you need to enjoy your meal-prep ramen is boiling water.
Ensure the ramen jar has come to room temperature; otherwise, it will crack when you add hot water. Add a cup of boiling water or more to taste. You could also use water from a hot tap on a coffee or water machine.
Stir thoroughly, replace the lid, and allow the broth to soften the vegetables and noodles for five minutes. Open the jar and feast. If you have leftover ramen, you can store the noodles and broth in the fridge for up to three days.
Benefits of Meal-Prepping Ramen
Apart from being convenient and utterly delicious, there are three reasons why you should meal-prep ramen.
Healthy and Nutritious
While they are pretty tasty and easy to make, regular instant ramen noodles lack vital nutrients, including vitamins A, B, and C, protein, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Unlike fresh foods, pre-packaged meals contain very few phytochemicals and antioxidants.
Unfortunately, the spice mixes with ramen contain several artificial additives, including MSG and TBHQ, which can harm your health.
Freshly made ramen topped with homemade broth, meat, and vegetables provides a more balanced meal with protein, vitamin-rich vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.
The joy of meal-prepping ramen noodles is the variety of ingredients you can use. These jars are entirely customizable, meaning you can make them for a weekly meal without much repetition and boredom setting in.
Pre-packaged foods increase your use of cardboard, plastic, and other packaging materials. Carrying your meal in a reusable mason jar is far more environmentally friendly.
Why Are Mason Jars Good Meal Prep Containers for Ramen?
Glass is the safest and most environmentally friendly packaging you can use. The FDA has granted glass the status of GRAS, the highest standard of safety, because glass is non-porous, impermeable, and has no chemical reaction with the product it’s carrying.
This means you won’t have any nasty aftertaste like in plastic containers. Your food remains fresh and flavorful. You can also get different-sized jars to fit any portion size and safely put the jars in both the oven and microwave. Additional to Ramen, you can make overnight oats, salads, burrito bowls, or poke bowls in mason jars.
Ramen noodles are great for meal-prepping as you can customize the ingredients endlessly. If you use plenty of fresh vegetables and avoid the chemical-laden spice sachets, ramen is a nutritious meal. They’re as convenient as regular pot noodles mixed with a cup of boiling water.
Nathaniel Lee is an avid cook, drawing on his decades of home cooking and fine dining experience. He is a contributing chef at Mashed, and his recipes and contributions have been featured in Tasting Table, Edible Arrangements, Insanely Good Recipes, and The Daily Meal.