Lunch Box Ramen

Lunch Box Ramen

In any given school year, I estimate that our household alone will have churned out somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 lunches.

Can that be right?

No wonder it can get a little old.

Talking to other moms, it seems one of the biggest challenges in packing lunches isn’t necessarily having the time or the right ingredients, it’s finding inspiration. Once we’re on about lunch number 50, it’s hard to get enthusiastic about the whole thing. Which is why, when I hit on a new lunch box idea, we get a little excited around here.

Do you struggle with what to pack for your kids' school meals? Try this lunch box ramen! Click To Tweet

Take this Lunch Box Ramen.

Why is this option so appealing?

  • It’s perfect thermos food.
  • Prep involves little more than boiling a pot of water along with a teensy bit of chopping and measuring.
  • You can make it while you pull together breakfast or even the night before, reheating it in the morning.

The key here is choosing the right ramen.

The noodles in standard supermarket brands — appealing because they’re dirt cheap — are deep fried and include seasoning packets chock full of MSG, artificial flavorings, and other mystery ingredients. Not good. If you opt for organic ramen it’s likely to be air-dried, so less added fat, and seasoned largely with, well, seasonings –- herbs and spices.

The one downside to ramen is that it’s high in sodium. You can opt to use less of the spice packet, which may work just fine if your household favors their food mildly flavored. Mine do not (I spied Mr. Mom’s Kitchen salting his already salty baked beans during a recent meal).

The other trick to a healthful pot of ramen is embellishing it with nutrient-rich goodies.

Here, I add edamame, baked tofu, and a generous helping of spinach. The spinach may seem like a lot at first, but it melts right into the soup so as not frighten any green food-phobic children. As for the baked tofu, feel free to substitute leftover cooked chicken, pork, or beef.

So…one lunch down. 499 to go. I’d love some help. What inspired lunch box ideas do you have?

Lunch Box Ramen

Be sure to opt for organic ramen when making this to avoid the deep-fried noodles and artificial ingredients in conventional ramen. You can find organic ramen in specialty markets and the natural foods section of some supermarkets. Baked and smoked tofu is sold in the refrigerated section of the market near other types of tofu. To reduce the amount of sodium, start with one seasoning packet instead of two. Taste and adjust as needed.
Servings 2 to 3 lunch box servings

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 two-ounce packages organic ramen noodles , any flavor
  • 1/2 cup cooked edamame
  • 1/2 cup cubed baked or smoked tofu (or cooked chicken, beef or pork)
  • 2 gently packed cups baby spinach

Instructions

  1. Pour the water into a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add the seasoning packet from the ramen and stir. Break up the ramen noodles into the pot of boiling broth. Add the edamame, tofu, and spinach. Stir and transfer immediately to thermoses. The noodles will cook as they sit in the thermos.

 

Comments

08.28.2012 at 7:18 AM #

Steph

Where can you find this type of Ramen? We live in a very small town. My kids love Ramen and on top of it being unhealthy I watched a study where the body does not even digest it…ick. It is priced right and my kids love it, so we eat it only once a month.

08.28.2012 at 7:18 AM #

katiemorford

You can find organic ramen at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and natural foods markets. You might find them in the natural foods section of your supermarket. They are shelf stable, so you can stock up when you do buy it.

08.28.2012 at 7:51 AM #

Pamela

Off to another school year with new ideas for lunch…lucky girls!

08.28.2012 at 8:06 AM #

christine

I make quesadillas a lot, and panini sandwiches. But the huge timesaver is premade foods like tamales that I will buy at the farmer’s market and individually freeze, or sticky rice wrapped in banana leave (also very good to freeze). At the Chinese bakeries, I can also pick up pork buns, but they don’t freeze, so you have to send them with the kids day of or the next day.

08.28.2012 at 8:06 AM #

katiemorford

All great ideas. My kids love tamales too. Trader Joe’s sells some decent chicken ones. Thanks Christine.

08.28.2012 at 8:40 AM #

Sara Miller

Hi Katie- Love the idea for “homemade” ramen. For me, nothing says comfort food like noodle soup. Back-to-school season is a great time to focus on cooking dinners that can easily be re-purposed into packed lunches. Try waiting a day or two before sending those leftovers to school so little ones aren’t eating the same thing two days in a row. Don’t forget to add some some change so they can buy milk at school!

Beat The Lunch Box Blues: Family dinner recipes selected with lunch boxes in mind. http://www.mealsmatter.org/blog/post/2012/08/24/Weekly-Family-Meal-Recipes-Beat-the-Lunch-Box-Blues.aspx

08.28.2012 at 8:40 AM #

katiemorford

I like the tip of waiting a day or two to use leftovers…kids may be a little more enthusiastic about them. And yes to milk at lunch to boost calcium. Water is great for hydration.

08.28.2012 at 6:23 PM #

Kristen

Looks like a great option that we plan to try next week…wondering about msg in those ramen flavor packets…will check packaging.

08.28.2012 at 6:23 PM #

katiemorford

If you choose organic ramen it won’t have MSG or artificial ingredients. I think Trader Joes brands are a good option as well.

10.15.2012 at 1:38 PM #

Heather

Thanks for this idea! My daughter attends a “nut-free” school so nut butters are out, making lunches that much trickier for us. We are always struggling with coming up with lunch ideas. Poor girl gets hummus-avocado-cucumber sandwiches about three times a week!!! Will definitely try this.

10.15.2012 at 1:38 PM #

katiemorford

How about seed butters? Pumpkin Seed Butter and Jelly is the new PB&J, no?

04.03.2014 at 6:14 PM #

Deirdre

When I have tried this (cooking the ramen first and then pouring into a thermos for a school lunch several hours later), my kids tell me that the ramen noodles turn to mush. It makes sense that the thin noodles would keep cooking in the retained heat inside the thermos. Any thoughts on how to prevent this from happening?

04.03.2014 at 6:14 PM #

katiemorford

Maybe experiment with undercooking the ramen a bit? They will continue to cook a bit in the thermos, so perhaps will end up just how your kids like them by lunch time.

04.03.2014 at 6:14 PM #

nicole

Dierdre,
I had the same problem with Ramen for my kids school lunch.
I’d be interested to hear if undercooking it worked for you?
Thanks,
Nicole

08.26.2014 at 3:02 PM #

Elizabeth

Had ^^same issue with mushy ramen. My kids told me it was disgusting. I was googling to find a solution and found your page. How do you keep ramen warm, yet not have it soak up all liquid and go mush?

08.26.2014 at 3:02 PM #

katiemorford

I think the key is undercooking the noodles a little and using plenty of water. I also recommend a good thermos. Preheating the thermos by filling it with very hot or boiling water while the soup cooks and then pouring it out just before adding the soup also helps. I am testing the specifics on timing for the noodles and will adjust the recipe accordingly.

10.28.2014 at 5:40 AM #

Andrew

I now put the dry ramen noodles into the thermoses and pour the broth over it and let them cook in the thermos. I have timed this and the noodles are done in about an hour and still edible in 2. By hour three they are pretty much mush.

You pretty much have to fill the thermoses as you’re pushing the kids out the door for this to work.

11.01.2015 at 9:11 PM #

Amy

Although this defeats the purpose of utilizing Ramen, perhaps utilizing a vermicelli or very thin noodle cooked beforehand to put in thermos may prevent the noodle from disintegrating. We like “Shanghai” noodles,which are similar in thinness to angel hair or vermicelli. They only take a few minutes to cook. But you may want to drain before transferring to thermos.

08.30.2016 at 1:48 PM #

Linda

Dr. Mercola’s Comment:
This is an excellent summary of some of the major reasons why soy is not the health food that you think it is. There are literally billions of dollars of influence in the edible oil industry that is promoting soy’s use in natural medical circles so it’s use can be then promoted in the general medical public. They are even able to fool otherwise knowledgeable natural medical physicians. I am a monthly columnist in the Townsend Letters and another columnist, Dr. Hudson, who was voted Naturopathic doctor of the year, has an article this month extolling soy’s values. Needless to say I quickly wrote a letter to Townsend asking them to print the other side of the soy story. In the meantime, you can save you and your family some potential problems by limiting any soy use to fermented products only, like tempeh or miso.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/02/13/more-on-soy.aspx

08.30.2016 at 2:42 PM #

Diane Stranz

In case you are still interested in lunch box ideas, my sons love Vegetarian Chili over Fritos — and it tastes great at room temperature, so no need to worry about keeping it hot. It ends up with almost no liquid in it by the time it is finished cooking, so although it will soften the Fritos by lunch time, it won’t make them soggy.

We make a pot, eat some for dinner, use some for lunches. Here’s the recipe:

Vegetarian Chili
2 C. (or a 15 oz. can) cooked red kidney beans
2 C. tomato juice (or 1 C. tomato sauce + 1 C. water)
1 (15 oz.) can chopped tomatoes (undrained)
1 C. water
1 C. onion, diced
1/2 C. carrot, diced
1/2 C. celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. crushed dried basil
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
4 drops Tabasco
6 T. pearl barley

Combine everything except the pearl barley and bring to boiling. Reduce heat, stir in barley and simmer until barley is tender (45 min to 1 hour). Remove bay leaves and serve. Great over Fritos, topped with grated Cheddar.

08.30.2016 at 2:42 PM #

katiemorford

I’m always looking for new ideas and your chili sounds delicious. I like the idea of the barley in there too. Thanks for sharing with me and my readers!

08.30.2016 at 10:09 PM #

Ji

Ramen is an instant food. It was invented to be and intended to be consumed immediately. I don’t care how you cook it, noodles will never be optimal in texture and soup too will be a cloudy mess. There’s enough options to pack for lunch that’s healthier and tastier. Believe me no kid wants to eat a thermos of salty mush. In time to boil water and chop tofu make something else.

09.05.2016 at 3:04 PM #

dayment

Make the ramen as needed, then drain, leaving flavored noodles and veggies for the thermos. Won’t be soup/broth, but my kids just like the noodles anyway.

09.05.2016 at 3:04 PM #

katiemorford

Nice idea. Thanks for sharing!

11.08.2017 at 4:41 AM #

Don

Make Ramen noodles just like normal – drain broth into thermos – send noodles separately in plastic container to mix at time of consumption. Alternatively, send boiling hot water in thermos, have kids mix dry ingredients in thermos 3 minutes before eating…

11.08.2017 at 4:41 AM #

Tanya G

I was also going to suggest cooking noodles, and sending in separate baggy. Kids can add the noodles to the thermos right before consuming!

Post Your Comment

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