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Hot, fresh, and yummy for my tummy
September 10, 2009 9:31 AM   Subscribe

So, I bought my young daughers each a Thermos for their school lunchboxes. Great! Now what can I put in them?

I've seen this thread, which has a bunch of good ideas, but I'm looking specifically for thermos ideas - hot foods that I couldn't send with them before that I now can.

Here's what I've come up with so far:

mac n' cheese
pasta and meatballs
baked beans
chili
soup

I'm sure I'm leaving out a ton of other ideas though. My kids are not incredibly picky eaters but they are only 5 and 6 so simple is better. Also, peanut and shellfish products are not allowed at their school, and we don't eat pork. Thanks!
posted by yawper to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Because you're specifically mentioning your kids: you may want to check out the web site lunchinabox. Her site is geared more towards bento, so she has a lot of fancy-pants "how to make an octopus out of a hot dog" or "how to make rice balls that look like pokemon" articles, but I'm recommending it because one of the people she is preparing for is a child. She also has a number of good recipes and "extra stuff to tuck into a lunchbox" tips, as well as portion suggestions.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:36 AM on September 10, 2009


Hot hot dogs with a little liquid.
posted by Good Brain at 9:36 AM on September 10, 2009


Oh -- and in my experience, if you can heat it up and fit it into a thermos, it's good. I've got a "tiffin" style thermos, with three separate containers stacked inside the thermos, and I can get just about anything into it if I cut it into the right shapes. A couple hot dogs can be tucked into the thermos, then you just pack a couple buns separately, save a couple of ketchup and mustard packets from the last time you were at McDonald's or whatever and tuck those in, and add some fruit or a salad in a small tupperware container.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:41 AM on September 10, 2009


I've experimented with Thermos-cooking oatmeal. You pour hot water into an already-heated Thermos, add oatmeal, seal, and wait. It cooks the oatmeal slowly. You can add brown sugar, honey, etc. That might be nice on some very cold days.
posted by adipocere at 10:06 AM on September 10, 2009


Arroz con leche was one of my favorites when I was a kid. Skip the raisins (most kids will leave them) and the butter, and use only half of the condensed milk, as you can add more later.

You can serve it hot or cold. My mom painted it with vegetable colors, so cute!
posted by clearlydemon at 10:28 AM on September 10, 2009


Ramen or other noodle products. The hot dog one works really well and you can use veggie dogs as well. Sloppy joes (can also be done veggie with veggie ground round or textured vegetable protein). Veggies and chicken or beef for fajitas. With chilli you can pack tortilla chips for scooping up the chilli.
(I like the veggie options because there is less concern about maintaining the foods at a safe temperature to avoid spoilage).
posted by Wendy BD at 10:36 AM on September 10, 2009


I have had bad experiences with noodles/noodle soup in a thermos...if they go in al dente they seem to come out totally mushy and overcooked. Maybe I was doing something wrong?

Rice or other grain pilaf, with some favorite vegetables added, is one idea. You mention baked beans already, but canned beans/lentils, if they like them, are a super-easy fix up. Some favorite vegetables chopped small and microwaved, add beans and a little tomato sauce or other prepared sauce.

My favorite thermos content in elementary school was chocolate milk/hot chocolate, though! Consider that or hot mulled cider as a treat when/if the weather gets cold where you are.
posted by jocelmeow at 10:47 AM on September 10, 2009


Wendy BD's suggestion of veggies or chicken and beef for fajitas gave me a good epiphany.

Remember the McDLT? That sandwich McDonald's had where they experimented with the packaging, selling it in a double-sided styrofoam package where you had half the bun and the burger on one side, and the other half the bun and the lettuce and tomato on the other? The pitch behind this was that "the hot side stays hot and the cold side stays cold," until you actually bought the thing and put it together.

Think of your kid's entire lunchbox as the McDLT packaging. You've got the thermos for the "hot side stays hot" part, and the rest of the box for the "cold side stays cold" part.

This may help you brainstorm new ideas -- rather than trying to fit an entire dish into the thermos, the thermos could just hold the part of a given dish that must stay warm, and the rest of the lunchbox can hold the part that doesn't have to be warm as such.

For example: the veggies or beef for fajitas. The tortillas don't have to be piping hot -- they can be packed into the box separately, and then your kids would just pour the contents of the thermos onto the fajitas and they're set. Or tacos -- put the hot part of the filling in the thermos, tuck in a couple taco shells (in a harder-sided box, so they don't crush, maybe) and a separate container of shredded lettuce, and your kids can "build their own tacos". Or just a big bunch of lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes goes in the box, throw in a handful of crushed tortilla chips, and then pack some taco fixings in the thermos and your kids can dump it all onto the lettuce for "taco salad."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:48 AM on September 10, 2009


I'll second lunch in a box. I also like Just Bento for advice and recipes on packing a lunch although most of the items aren't put in a thermos.

One of my daughter's favorite things to have in her thermos are Chinese steamed buns. We buy frozen vegetarian ones at the Asian market, heat them in the microwave (with a little water on the plate) and then put them in the thermos. They take very little time to heat up which helps on busy mornings.
posted by vespabelle at 11:09 AM on September 10, 2009


Hot chicken salad, anything-a-Roni, lo mein, scrambled eggs?

If there are removable rubber seals in the lids of the thermoses, pull those out and wash them separately because food gunk or dishwater can get in behind them and turn putrid.
posted by lakeroon at 3:52 PM on September 10, 2009


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