Our Best Tips to Making Homemade Cup-of-Noodle Soups for Easy Work Lunches

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homemade cup of noodles

The cheap price tag and addictive saltiness of instant noodle soup in a convenient foam cup was the stuff of midnight dinner dreams in college. But now that I'm older, arguably wiser and definitely more in-tune with health and nutrtition, my favorite quick slurpable meal needed a serious upgrade. I give you: homemade cup of noodle soups.

That's right—all the convenience of an instant, single-serving meal but with a healthy upgrade to ingredients you actually know (say buh-bye to powdered chicken for good). One serving of our Spicy Ramen Cup of Noodles saves you 179 miligrams of sodium and 3 grams of saturated fat while packing in an extra 10 grams of protein and an extra 8 grams of fiber. Just add water to these beautiful veggie-loaded noodle soups and lunch is ready in no time—plus each jar only takes about 5 minutes to assemble.

Try these: DIY Instant Cup of Noodles Soup Recipes

To Make One 1 Jar You'll Need:

3-4 teaspoons creamy flavor base

1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons liquid flavor, optional

1/2 to 1 cup raw vegetables

1/2 cup cooked noodles

3 ounces cooked protein

Garnishes

Here's how to do it:

1. Gather Your Equipment

spicy ramen cup of noodles

Pictured Recipe: Spicy Ramen Cup of Noodles

You'll need three 11/2-pint wide-mouth canning jars (Wide-mouth jars are easier to layer in and eat out of.) to make these soups. Why three? Because they keep for three days in your fridge. Eat them all yourself, send them to work or school with your family or adjust the recipe to make fewer—or more.

Related: The Best Meal-Prep Containers for Work Lunches

2. Start with a Creamy Flavor Base

miso soup cup of noodles

Pictured Recipe: Miso Soup Cup of Noodles with Shrimp & Green Tea Soba

Since these soups aren't made like broth like traditional soup, the creamy flavor base is key to making sure you pack in tons of taste without watering it down. This base will meld into the water you add when you are ready to eat, making a "broth" all it's own. Try mixing and matching these:

  • bouillon paste
  • miso
  • tahini
  • gochujang
  • Thai red curry paste
  • chile-garlic sauce
  • grated ginger
  • grated garlic

3. Add Liquid Flavor

chicken curry cup of noodles

Pictured Recipe: Chicken Curry Cup of Noodles

This is your second chance to pack in flavor—the liquid flavor gives you opportunity to add creaminess, acid and/or sweetness depending on what you like, but you can also skip this step if you're happy with the flavor profile you created in step 2. Mix and match some of the following:

  • coconut milk
  • mirin
  • vinegar
  • brown sugar

4. Layer in Quick-Cooking Vegetables

coconut curry cup of noodles

Pictured Recipe: Coconut Curry Cup of Noodles with Spiralized Butternut Squash Noodles

Or at least cut the vegetables so they'll cook up quick when you're actually ready to eat! Try some of these:

  • leafy greens (like spinach, bok choy and cabbage)
  • sliced mushrooms
  • shredded carrots
  • thinly sliced radish
  • mixed frozen vegetables

5. Can't Forget the Noodles

faux chicken pho cup of noodles

Pictured Recipe: Faux Chicken Pho Cup of Noodles

For the best heat-and-eat soups, you'll want to cook your noodles ahead of time. Just make sure to only cook them until al dente, as they will continue to cook when you heat up your jar, and you don't want a mushy mess! Try one of these:

  • rice noodles
  • ramen noodles
  • soba noodles
  • spiralized vegetable noodles like zucchini or butternut squash

6. Pack in Some Protein

ramen cup of nooodles with cabbage and tofu

Pictured Recipe: Sichuan Ramen Cup of Noodles with Cabbage & Tofu

Make your lunch or quick dinner ultra satisfying by adding in some protein. You will want to add this already cooked, too so you can heat and eat in a jiff without worrying about everything cooking all the way through. Try:

  • hard-boiled eggs
  • baked tofu
  • shredded chicken
  • shrimp

Related: Healthy High-Protein Lunch Ideas for Work

7. Top it Off with Some Garnishes

kimchi shrimp cup of noodles

Pictured Recipe: Kimchi Shrimp Cup of Noodles

Not only do sprinkles and sprigs look pretty, they add flavor and texture too. Place these at the very top of the jar to keep them as fresh as possible! Some (like citrus wedges) you will want to remove from the jar before you heat it up. Try:

  • toasted sesame seeds
  • toasted chopped nuts
  • lime wedge
  • fresh herbs like mint, basil and/or cilantro

Close the lids tight and store these in the fridge for up to three days.

8. Just Add Water and Slurp!

Once you're ready to eat, add 1 cup of very hot water to one jar. Close the jar and shake to combine. Microwave uncovered on high in 1-minute increments until steaming hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir before eating.

Related: Cheap Healthy Lunches for Work

Watch: How to Make Homemade Cup of Noodles Soup

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