Make Your Own Lunch Box Noodle Bowl
These Lunch Box Instant Noodle Pot Mason Jars are a healthier, homemade answer to instant noodles in a package.
This isn't really a recipe, because you can use so many different ingredients and proportions. I'll share with you what I did, and you can go from there to conjure up your own noodle pot creation.
I found these cute jars with hinged lids at the dollar store, but a wide-mouthed mason jar with a lid would be perfect, as would any glass bowl with a lid. My jars hold 2 ½ cups, so a one-pint mason jar or 2-3 cup capacity container is about right.
There are several components to your noodle bowl:
Noodles, of course
I used udon, but you could use any quick-cooking or instant noodles, such as instant ramen, soba, chow mein or rice noodles. (the package should say 2-3 minute cooking time, max) Don't try to use dried pasta, it won't get a long enough cooking time. But, you could also par-cook noodles that need a longer cooking time, toss in a little oil, cool, and use them. Just be sure they are not completely cooked.
I used broccoli slaw, which you can buy in bags. It contains broccoli stalks, red cabbage, and carrots, already shredded up for you. You could finely chop your own veggies into matchstick pieces, but the key here is quick and easy. I also used fresh spinach leaves. Some others that I plan to try are frozen peas, baby bok choy, frozen oriental veggies, thinly sliced shitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, baby corn and water chestnuts. Whatever veggies you use, it's important to slice them very thinly. They will still retain a lot of crunch after their hot water soak. Leafy veggies, such as spinach, don't need to be chopped or sliced.
The Soup Base
I used an all-natural vegetable bouillon that comes in soft cubes. For veggie, chicken or beef flavour, try Better than Bouillon. It comes in small jars in paste form, and you can find them in the spice section at the grocery store. These products are healthier alternatives than bouillon cubes, which are artificially flavoured and high in sodium and sometimes MSG.
Add Your Flavours
I used soy sauce, sesame oil and a small dab of sriracha hot sauce. You can use any hot sauce you like, or none at all. Some other possibilities are tamari sauce, fish sauce, miso paste, tahini, curry paste or rice vinegar.
The first noodle pot jars I made were vegetarian. For this batch, I used cooked, peeled frozen shrimp, and beef. One post I saw on this used beef jerky, which did not appeal to me (although it might to you, and go for it, if so). I didn't have any cooked beef so wasn't sure what to use. And then I saw this in the freezer case at the grocery store.
Beef Rib Eye Hot Pot Rolls. They are paper-thin, precooked and frozen in a clamshell container. Perfect for my noodle jars. Other proteins you could use; cooked, sliced chicken breast, tofu cubes, smoked salmon, or sliced cooked pork. These lovely noodle jars are a good way to use leftover roast beef or chicken.
I added grated ginger. Some other goodies to add in include jarred minced garlic, dried onion flakes, pickled ginger, kimchi, chopped fresh herbs, lemon or lime zest, toasted sesame seeds; you can be as creative as you like here.
Tips For Making Lunch Box Instant Noodle Pot Mason Jars
- You will need 4 clean 2-3 cup glass containers with lids. It's important to use jars that are meant to withstand high heat. Which is why mason jars, designed for canning, are perfect.
- If you are using bouillon for your soup base, look for one with reduced or no sodium, and no MSG. Try one in a paste form, which tastes far superior to those salty little cubes. I recommend Better Than Bouillon.
- The bouillon, along with soy sauce, sesame oil, & sriracha should be on the bottom of the jar to avoid making the noodles soggy. Be sure to stir these ingredients well. The first batch of jars I made, I did not stir. This led to some extra salty pockets in my soup, so this time I stirred all this together with a spoon.
- Bring one of these jars to work or school, and pop into the fridge for the morning. About a half-hour before lunch, take it out so that it can warm up a bit. (you don't want a chilled jar, it takes longer for the boiling water to cook everything) 5-10 minutes before lunch, boil up the kettle, pour that boiling water into your jar and seal it back up. Let it sit and when it's time for lunch, open up the jar and give everything a good stir.
- Eat and enjoy your warm, satisfying, healthy lunch!
Noodle Pot Mason Jars
- 1- pint mason jars (500 ml) with lids
- 2 tbsp soy sauce per jar
- 2 tsp soup base per jar
- 1 tsp sesame oil per jar
- ½ tsp hot sauce (omit or add more to taste) per jar
- ½ cup spinach leaves per jar
- ½ cup brocolli slaw per jar
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger per jar
- 1.5 oz protein per jar
- 2 oz noodles per jar
- Into each of four jars, stir together soup base, such as Better than Bouillon, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, & ½ tsp sriracha sauce.
- Into each jar, put spinach leaves, broccoli slaw, and grated fresh ginger.
- To each jar, add your protein of choice, pre-cooked shrimp, chicken, or beef
- Use quick-cooking or instant noodles to fill each jar
- Screw lids on each jar.
- Store the jars in the fridge until about 20 minutes before you want to eat them, then remove and let them stand at room temp for 15 minutes
- Fill each jar with boiling water to cover the ingredients
- Put the lids back on the jars and let them stand for 5-10 minutes to allow the noodles to cook.
- Stir and serve