A HUG IN A LUNCHBOX
Pack hot treats to warm kids’ bellies and hearts
As the air begins to turn crisp and we pull out our winter sweaters, I start to think about warm comfort food such as soups and chili that stick to your ribs. When it comes to my kids, I want them to have the same hearty feeling during lunch while they are at school. I have come up with crowd pleasers that can be taken in their lunchbox, in a Thermos, to warm up their bellies before they go run off energy in the cooler weather at recess or head back to class to finish up their day.
Being able to send a hot lunch once or twice a week can really break up the monotony of the standard lunchbox. It is a great way to use up leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, pasta, stew or sloppy joes or even leftover takeout.
Soup always is a hit in our house, especially during the colder months. When I plan to make soup for dinner I usually make a big batch, so I can have leftovers for school lunches. This way, I can freeze individual portion sizes for my kids and thaw them out the night before I plan to pack.
Packing up the sides to go along with the Thermos also happens the day or night before. Planning ahead is the key to stress-free lunch packing. In a bento box or other small container, I like to pack some fruit and vegetables. I also like to add a corn muffin for soups, a sliced bun for sloppy joe meat or corn chips and cheese for chili. Kids love it when they get to mix things into the Thermos, so let them take part in the action!
Freezing the soup in freezer-safe wide-mouth glass jars also helps me with reheating. A pint jar is just the right amount to serve both of my kids. I pull the jar out of the freezer the day before and thaw in the refrigerator. I also set out their lunch carriers, a small saucepan and spoon the night before. In the morning, I put hot water into the Thermos to warm it up. I pour the soup into the saucepan and heat it until it’s piping hot! If you are rushed for time, you can remove the metal lid from the glass jar and heat it in the microwave. Don’t forget to dump out the hot water in the Thermos before adding the hot soup. Trust me. This has happened!
Pack up the Thermos and any necessary utensils into the lunch carrier. Add the side items, if refrigerated overnight, and a drink or water bottle. I like to put the hot things to one side and if anything needs to be kept cold I put a small ice pack on the opposite side of the carrier.
Mixing up your child’s lunchbox with something warm and comforting is a great way to show them how much you care about their health and happiness. It’s like a warm hug!