Busy Days Instant Noodle Bento Recipe

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I ate so many instant noodle meals as a university student — back then I had no idea I could make my own, wholesome version in minutes! Thin dry rice vermicelli rehydrates quickly in hot water, so just place them dry in a heatproof container, add a delicious miso paste and ginger soup base, plus raw veggies (you can use any veggie as long as it’s sliced thin or grated). When you’re ready to eat, it’s just like the original — pour boiling hot water over, wait a few minutes and then slurp down your warm instant noodle soup.

Makes 1 portion.
Refrigerator life: up to 3 days as long as the noodles have not yet been rehydrated.


  • 1/2 nest (2-2 1/2 oz.) dry rice vermicelli
  • a handful of salad greens, like arugula, watercress, or baby spinach
  • 1/2 small carrot, grated
  • a small piece of red cabbage, cut into thin slices
  • 1 tbsp. brown rice miso paste
  • 1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. tamari
  • 3/4-inch piece fresh ginger, washed but not peeled, finely grated straight into your bento
  • fresh chili, sliced, or chili flakes, to taste
  • fresh cilantro, to taste, optional
  • a slice of lime, to serve, optional

Use a leak-proof box, or a repurposed jar with a lid for this bento. Push your half-nest of noodles (break a whole, dry nest of noodles in half over your sink, as pieces will fly everywhere), into your container together with the rest of the ingredients. No need to arrange neatly for this bento! Close tightly and pack your container in a bento bag or furoshiki with a fork or chopsticks.

To serve, remove the lime slice, if using, pour boiling water over to submerge the ingredients, close the lid, leave for 5 minutes or a little more, then open, squeeze the lime over and eat.


  • Meal prep a few Busy Days Instant Noodle Bentos and keep ready to go in the refrigerator. Less perishable veggies like carrot, cabbage, and broccoli are best used for this, salad greens and herbs can be added on the day.
  • Cubed firm tofu or cooked beans are both great added to your bento as a protein boost.

Also from Bento Power:

Many people bring their lunch to work to save money, time and to help control what they are eating (with no hidden nasties from processed shop-bought food), but sometimes it’s hard to think of interesting, nutritious things to make. Sara has come to the rescue with her vibrant, fun and inspirational approach to lunch boxes. She concentrates on having 5 clear elements: complex carbs, protein, fruit and veg, and sprinkles as well as the 5 colours used in authentic Japanese cooking: red, white, black, yellow and green. With just a few essential ingredients, you add your extras to create highly nutritious, vegetarian, colourful boxes of joy. With tips on how to stock your bento store-cupboard and basic ingredients and recipes to get you going, now is the time for bento to bounce into your breakfast, lunch box, or even into your dinner parties, filling you with Bento Power!

Reprinted with permission from Bento Power: Brilliantly Balanced Lunchbox Recipes by Sara Kiyo Popowa and published by Kyle Books, 2018.

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