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3 Perfect Ways to Upgrade Your Ramen

How do you turn cheap packages of instant noodles into priceless backpacking meals? Step 1: Throw away the seasoning packets. Step 2: Follow these recipes from Chef Glenn McAllister.

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The ramen recipes below follow the same easy plan; you just change the ingredients. Each meal serves one hungry hiker or two average appetites.

At Home
Break noodles into smaller pieces and pack in a zip-top bag. Pack meat and/or vegetables in a second bag. Pack cheese and/or sauces in a third bag.

In Camp
1) Add meat and/or vegetables to pot with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.
2)Turn off stove and add ramen noodles (and sauce, if it doesn’t need rehydration). Stir well.
3) Insulate pot for 15 minutes. Serve.

Tip: In the recipes below you can substitute non-dehydrated ingredients like pouch chicken (7-ounce package), preserved sausage (1 cup), or fresh veggies (1 cup). With fresh stuff, reduce the amount of water to 1 ½ cups.

Savory Noodles & Vegetables

Make a flavorful vegetarian treat.

1 package ramen

½ cup dehydrated black beans

½ cup dehydrated veggies (try tomatoes, onions, corn, green beans)

3 packets soy sauce (¼ oz. per packet)

Notes: Add soy sauce with ramen. Recipe variations:
1) Peas with onions, mushrooms, and teriyaki sauce;
2) Red beans with broccoli, onions, and sriracha sauce.

Noodles Raminara

Enjoy a classic Italian sauce.

1 package ramen noodles

½ cup dehydrated ground beef

½ cup dehydrated bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms

½ cup dehydrated tomato sauce (or 6 Tbsp. tomato powder)

1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese (or 2 6-gram packets)

Pinch salt, pepper, basil, oregano to taste

Notes: Add tomato sauce with meat and veggies. Stir in Parmesan just before serving. More winning combinations:
1) Shrimp with bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms;
2) Garbanzo beans with spinach and tomatoes.

Cheesy Ramen

This creamy dish is pure comfort food.

1 package ramen noodles

½ cup dehydrated ham, diced

½ cup dehydrated peas

3 Tbsp. cheddar cheese powder

2 Tbsp. powdered milk

Pinch salt and pepper to taste

Notes: Add milk and cheese powders at the same time as ramen. More tasty combinations:
1) Salmon with tomatoes, onions, and broccoli;
2) Black beans with corn and bell peppers (add taco seasoning if you like it spicy).

Mix and Match

Customize your ramen with an assortment of ingredients.


Try ready-to-eat tuna, salmon, chicken (sold in pouches), and precooked sausage when weight is not an issue.

Dehydrated meat and fish: Dry at home with a food dehydrator or buy freeze-dried meat from Mountain House or others.


Canned beans are fine for short trips, but they’re heavy and leave you with cans to lug out. Dehydrate beans at home with a food dehydrator or buy from sources like Harmony House Foods, which is also a great place to shop for dried veggies and sauces.


Fresh vegetables like carrots, corn, onions, garlic, and bell peppers keep for a few days in moderate temperatures. Pack separately from dried foods.

Dried vegetables are light and keep well during long treks. Dry your own or buy in bulk.

Cheese Sauce

Stir in the cheese and milk powders when you remove the meal from the stove. An easy source for cheddar cheese powder is the packet from a box of macaroni and cheese; you can also buy cheese powder in bulk online. Powdered milk is widely sold in grocery stores. Another cheese option, slightly heavier: Carry an 8-ounce block of hard cheddar cheese and slice a quarter of the package into the meal after you take the meal off the stove.

Tomato Sauce

Dehydrate tomato sauce into “leather.” To make: Spread tomato sauce on dehydrator trays covered with nonstick sheets and dry at 135°F for eight hours. Alternatively, purchase tomato powder from Harmony House Foods.

Savory Sauces

Save single-serving packets of soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and sriracha chili sauce from your next takeout order, or buy in bulk from

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