Fixed-Up Instant Ramen: Pantry Possibilities

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Having a foundation for your favorite dishes allows you to make the things you love several different ways. Sometimes, it’s about combining items creatively in order to avoid food waste. Other times, it’s simply about trying to use what you already have on hand. When trips to the grocery store are limited, or you just plain don’t have time, it’s comforting to be able to find alternatives to the dishes you love.

Instant Ramen is a common pantry item because it is quick and easy to throw together. Did you know, there are simple ways to add nutrition to this fast meal without compromising time? These recipe suggestions are adapted from Toni Okamoto’s recipe found in her cookbook, Plant-Based on a Budget.

The chart below compares the components of the original recipe with possible substitutions you may have at home in your pantry or freezer:

Plant-Based Fixed Up Ramen Substitutions and Other Options

  • 4 cups water and 4 cups vegetable broth



  • Use 8 cups of water, omit broth if you do not have any or do not prefer it.
  • Replace 4 cups vegetable broth with 4 cups broth you have on hand or broth you prefer.




  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • ¼ to ½ cup sautéed diced onion
  • 1 – 1.5 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 – 1.5 cups frozen broccoli florets



  • Replace frozen vegetable quantities with any variety of frozen or canned vegetables you prefer that will complement your ramen.

Suggestions: items like mixed canned vegetables OR separately corn, peas, green beans (drained and rinsed). You can also try okra or chopped bell pepper (frozen or canned).

  • You can also use fresh vegetables, but it will lengthen the cooking process a bit, as these will need to cook through.
  • A quick add is sliced fresh mushroom.
Ramen (Noodles):

  • 3 packages of *Soy Sauce* instant ramen noodles (this is the best option if you are aiming for a vegetarian dish)
  • 2 – 0 of the flavor packets (see Instructions below)


Ramen (Noodles):

  • 3 packages of any variety of ramen flavors available
  • 2 – 0 of the flavor packets (see Instructions below)
  • You can also substitute desired amount of rice noodles or egg noodles if you have them on hand, but use of broth will be key to add flavor as you will not have the ramen flavor packets.
Optional Protein:

  • For vegetarian option: you can add one 16 oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed
Optional Protein:

  • For meat eaters: add a protein that will complement the flavor packets of the ramen you have.

Suggestions: 1-2 cups cubed, cooked chicken or beef, or 1-2 cups cooked frozen shrimp (peeled, tail off)

  • Add a hard-boiled egg, sliced or halved.

  • Try 1 tsp of sweet chili sauce and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes for some heat. You can also use fresh ground pepper to taste.

Nutrition tip: If you find yourself wanting to add soy sauce, try only a few drops of Tamari instead. Tamari is lower in sodium, and this dish already has plenty, especially if you opted for broth.


  • Bring liquids to a boil in a large pot.Boiling Ramen
  • Add garlic and your choice of vegetables to the pot and boil for 5 minutes (if using frozen or canned). If you’ve chosen fresh vegetables, boil until they are tender, cooked through.
  • Stir in the ramen noodles, rice noodles, or egg noodles and cook according to the directions on the package.
  • If using ramen noodles, you can now add flavor packets. In order to regulate sodium intake, if you have decided to use broth, you may choose to omit the flavor packets entire, or just stir-in 1 of the 3 you have. If you have used only water, no broth, stir-in 2 of the three flavor packets.
  • Remove from heat, serve, and enjoy!Stirring Ramen