School started back for us last week and so did school lunches. 🙂 We were only a couple of days into the new semester before my teenager daughter was already tired of sandwiches and she really wanted to pack a hot lunch. As it happened the complaint came on the same evening we were having meatloaf for dinner. She was immediately agreeable to taking leftover meatloaf in her lunch the next day.
The rumor at her lunch table is that you can’t bring a hot lunch from home and it still be warm by lunchtime. I remember a time when I was skeptical of packing a lunch that had to stay warm. I was mostly concerned about the food spoiling and that would not end well. I’m here to tell you that it is easy peasy to pack a lunch that stays warm. In fact, my daughter reports back that sometimes the food is still very piping hot.
Easy Steps to a Hot Lunch
First, you will want to make sure you have a stainless steel insulated food jar. We have a couple because my daughter will occasionally also take a side that needs to be warm too. Of the two that we own, I prefer the food jar that has the wider mouth like this one from Thermos. It is just easier to get food into and easier to clean. And I’m sure it’s easier for my daughter to eat from!
You will want to make sure your thermos is metal so that you can preheat the food jar. I fill the jar with hot water and close the lid and let it sit for about 10 minutes while I begin preparing the food. If you don’t preheat the food jar it will absorb some of the heat from the food and cool it down as soon as you put the food in. By preheating the jar is able to retain the heat of the food. I usually use water from my Keurig since my tap takes forever to get hot and it’s faster than boiling water on the stove.
If I am sending leftovers I also find that warming up the food in the oven or the stovetop seems to stay warmer longer rather than reheating in the microwave. So my other tip is to use your oven or stovetop if possible to reheat the food. Sometimes time is too precious in the mornings and the microwave is the way to go.
Hot Lunch Ideas
Packing a warm lunch in a thermos really opens up the lunch options. We have packed soup, leftovers, pasta, mac-n-cheese, potatoes…. the possibilities are really endless! I have even sent taco meat and then packed all the taco fixings. She assembles her taco at the lunch table!
If you have any hot lunch tips or ideas please share them! I’m always looking for new ideas.