Life is busy, especially lately since we’re still (yes!) getting used to the idea of being back in school – on this fifth week of school! So I look for ways to make it easier everywhere I can. Like school lunches.
Since my son started kindergarten and had to bring his own lunch for school, we’ve incorporated leftovers into our meal plan. I know they liked dinner when they ask to take leftovers to school and I love that they’re eating a healthy school lunch to get them through the day. They also simply don’t have enough time to wait in the hot school lunch line, get served, walk back to the table, find an open seat, and stare at their food for a minute with the short allotted time for lunch these days.
The kids still like to have a “hot lunch” so sometimes I’ll also make special dishes, like my daughter’s favorite macaroni and cheese, Sunday night and they’ll take it too school for lunch three days that week. Talk about easy peasy lunch making! Other times we’ll double up slow cooker meals, or other favorites like mexi bowls. They warm up easy and still taste good.
One of our Feed Our Families readers recently sent me an email asking how we keep food warm for school, and whether it really stays warm until lunch time. I had one of those forehead slapping moments as I read her note because it struck me that I’ve raved about our kid’s school lunch gear (especially our Thermos food jars!) and taking leftovers, but I’ve never shared the “how we do it” part! And that is what this site is all about!
If you know my husband, you’re already aware that he can track down pretty much anything on the internet. Anything. Many many years ago, when we first started our school lunch adventures, we tested the temperature of food sent in the food jars ourselves. Food stayed warm, but he knew there had to be a better way to keep food at the optimal temperature until lunch, so off he went to track down answers. And he succeeded!
Tips and tricks abound but here’s what his research and our experiments have found to work best for our children. Keep in mind, we’re making lunches around 7:30 and they’re eating them between 11:30 and noon.
The Secret to Keep Food Warm for School Lunch in 5 Easy Steps:
- About 10 minutes before you want to put hot food in the food jar, pour boiling water into the jar and seal the lid.
- If you’re packing up something that you want to stay cold, like yogurt, add ice plus cold water instead.
- After 10 minutes (more is ok), heat up your food to a temperature hotter than you might normally eat it at. Just don’t scorch your leftovers!
- Empty the water and promptly serve your food into the food jar.
- Seal the lid.
That’s it! Pack up lunch and head out the door. It’s really that easy to take hot food to school for lunch!
I wouldn’t recommend packing up your food jar next to an ice pack that keeps water or milk cold. We separate their water bottles from the food jar by either placing it outside the lunch box (my son’s has a pocket outside), or by putting the napkin plus a snack like a Luna bar in between the two for my daughter.
If you have a lunch trick to share, let us know!