They're a go-to lunch for people everywhere: office workers, college students, older children looking for something to fuel their growth spurts. And...I'll admit it - they're delicious. I love just-add-water noodle packs, particularly the Southeastern Asian brands that supply Indonesian or Korean flavors. Add a bit of frozen veg, some fresh herbs, some leftovers or a broth-poached egg, and you've got a legit meal. But, if you're gonna do the worth to improve them, why not start with whole ingredients in the first place, and avoid the preservatives, control the sodium, and otherwise improve on what, we can all admit, is a seriously good, easy lunch.
That's exactly what Kenji from Serious Eats' The Food Lab set out to do, and by my count, he succeeded. He says,
But for all of its pleasure—the salty, MSG-packed broth, the little freeze-dried nubs of vegetables, the slippery, way-too-soft noodles—instant noodles, even the best of them, could never be considered healthy or satisfying in any form other than the basest. Wouldn't it be great if you could get all of the convenience and pleasure of instant noodles—the portability, the just-add-water cooking, the lunch-sized portions—but pack it full of fresh vegetables and real, honest-to-goodness flavor?
Here's a secret: you can, and it's easier than you think.
He goes on to share the technique and recipes to make it happen. There's no mention of freezing here, but I think that'd be possible and worthwhile to explore, so you can whip these up in bulk and not have to eat noodles for lunch for five days in a row...which, while likely fun, defeats the purpose of making a more healthful option.
Check out the piece in full - The Food Lab: Make Your Own Just-Add-Hot-Water Instant Noodles (and Make Your Coworkers Jealous)