Packing Hot Lunches For School
After a long, hot summer, we all look forward to those first crisp fall days. And with it our menus change. Why not change the lunch you pack for your kids as well. Salads, wraps, and cold sandwiches are great late summer options, but when the temperatures start to drop, your little ones will appreciate a hot dish in their lunch box.
Nothing says comfort food like a favorite home cooked soup or stew. Not only is it a nutritious lunch choice, it allows you to better accommodate the dietary needs of your children. Below are some hints on what you can pack and how to do it.
Serve up the soup!
Soup And A Hot Sandwich
One of my favourite school lunches as a kid was tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. Who doesn’t love soup and a hot sandwich for lunch on a cool, crisp, fall day? If you thought those were outside your packed lunch capabilities, think again. All it takes is a small thermos, some aluminium foil and ideally an insulated lunch box.
Make the soup the day before from scratch in your slow cooker. Or you can heat up some canned soup in the morning, right before school. Get it piping hot, and if possible, run some hot or even boiling water in the thermos first to get everything as warm as possible. Pour the soup in the thermos and sit it in the insulated lunch box. Don’t forget to pack a spoon.
Although there is a risk of increased breakage with the glass lined thermos, it is the one that will stay hot the longest. However, great improvements are being made in thermos design. So if you are blessed to find a thermos with a metal stainless steel liner, go with that variety. The plastic lined thermos needs further insulating by wrapping aluminum foil and a towel around it. Do this before packing in the lunch box.
Lastly, make the hot sandwich. Grilled cheese, or grilled ham and cheese are always a favourite. Fix the sandwich as usual and then wrap it in several layers of aluminium foil. If you’re worried about the bread getting soggy, wrap it in a paper towel first, then the foil. Keep the sandwich in the insulated lunch box and everything should be staying toasty warm for hours. Mix and match the soup and sandwich combos for endless portable lunch possibilities.
Chili and Stew
Of course you’re not limited to just soup. A nice hardy stew or a bowl of chili with some corn chips or a side of fresh cornbread make a nice addition to any lunch box. Make a batch of your favorite chili or stew and put it in your kids’ lunch boxes for the following days.
Another great option is to freeze it in smaller portions and take them out as needed to add to lunch boxes. This is also a great time for you to take lunch to work or keep a bowl at home to reheat at lunch time. As with the soup we talked about earlier, you can get a short thermos, run hot water in it, and then fill it with the piping hot chili or stew. That will keep the lunch warm until well past lunch time.
Last but not least, don’t forget about leftovers. They make great lunch box additions. There are wide mouthed thermos out there that can hold a variety of leftover food from pasta dishes, to things like fried rice, or anything you can think of that would work well put in a bowl.
If your child has access to a microwave, you can pack just about any leftover that can then be heated at school. Find a few microwave-safe plastic containers that work well and fit your child’s lunch box and you’re good to go.
However, remember, even if your child doesn’t have access to a microwave, your child can still have a hot lunch. Just use this tips and ideas and a good wide mouthed thermos. And mom’s home cooking will make lunchtime at school a delight!