Ramen for the Win

By Catherine Holland May 17, 2023
Girl in a blue beanie eating a bowl of ramen noodles in the desert at a picnic table.

Your tent is packed, your sleeping bag is stuffed in its sack, your headlamp has new batteries, and your first aid kit is complete. Now, it’s time to prep the most important part of your backpacking adventure: your food! GORP and tortillas are a staple. Bagels are super easy, but they take up a lot of space. You scratch your head wondering what the perfect meal might be. 

Have you considered Ramen? Sure, you might immediately disregard the hard noodles in a plastic covering. However, after a long day of hiking, slurping down a warm bowl of instant ramen packed with veggies is simply the best. 

When you are meal planning for a backpacking trip or any backcountry adventure, one of the first meals that may come to mind is Ramen. Some may ask ‘why Ramen?’, or ‘isn’t Ramen bad for you?’  Here are some of the many reasons why Ramen became one of the most well known backcountry meals: 

  1. It does not take much time to make
  2. It is light and easy to pack
  3. It can be easily adjusted to become a great vegetarian meal
  4. It is a good option for people who have food allergies 
  5. It doesn’t need much – you only need one pot to boil water
  6. Clean up is simple and quick
  7. Crowd pleaser – who doesn’t love noodles?
  8. Inexpensive and easily accessible at most stores and gas stations

The Ramen flavoring packet is high in sodium, that is true. There are many ways, however, to make Ramen a bit healthier: 

  1. Use miso, or any broth instead of the packet that is supplied.  If you have space to pack a different type of broth, that is most desirable, if not, then only use half of the flavor packet they supply. That will cut out unnecessary sodium and will not change the taste. 
  2. Add protein – you can add an egg or two, pulled pork, chicken, beef, or peanut butter.
  3. Load up on the veggies – shredded carrots, scallions, kale, bean sprouts, spinach, mushrooms, celery, snap peas are a few of my favorites.
  4. Spice it up – add ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes or sriracha.

If I have not convinced you yet, here are some other fun facts about ramen:

Ramen has been around since the mid-1950s and originated from China. It can be eaten both cooked or raw. If you measured the length of all the noodles inside a ramen packet it would be 51 meters long and if you wanted to survive on instant ramen for a year it would cost you around $150.00. Not to mention, it has been eaten in outer space!

Here at WA, we love Ramen and we want to share one of our favorite Ramen recipes, from our director, Catherine Holland. Enjoy!

Young boy with a bowl of ramen noodles in the desert at a picnic table.

Catho’s Top Ramen Recipe
Serves 6

6 packets of top ramen noodles any flavor (I prefer chicken, pork or original)
1 bunch of scallions (save some for the garnish)
1 bag shredded carrots
1 bag of snap peas sliced in half diagonally
1-2 large handfuls of bean sprouts
2-3 tbs of veggie oil
6-8 cups of broth (miso, veggie, chicken)
Optional for additional protein: 2 Tbs peanut butter, or 2 cups any shredded cooked meat, 6 soft boiled egg (boil in water for 6 minutes) 

In a big pot begin by sautéing veggies in oil for a few minutes until their color is bright and vibrant 2-3 minutes.  Add the protein of your choice (expect if using eggs- they go last).

Sautéed carrots, peppers, onion, and meat in a pot.

Add the broth and bring to a boil.

Add the noodles (throw away the flavor packets).

Pot of ramen noodles and vegetables in broth.

Cook until the noodles are done, 2-3 minutes. 

If adding an egg- Boil in a separate pot for 6 minutes at a rapid boil, peel the egg and serve in the bowls separately. 

Pull off the heat and serve.  

Top with some additional scallions and enjoy!

Girl in a blue beanie eating a bowl of ramen noodles in the desert at a picnic table.