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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.
Hot Lunch #1: Soup And A Hot Sandwich
One of my favorite 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 aluminum foil, and ideally an insulated lunch box. You probably already have one of these, just to keep the cold stuff cold on warm days. If not, you can grab one from Amazon that I’m sure your kids will love.
Make the soup the day before from scratch, or 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 into the thermos and sit it in the insulated lunch box. Don’t forget to pack a spoon. You could grab a leakproof thermos that comes with a spoon.
Lastly, make a hot sandwich. Grilled cheese or grilled ham and cheese are always a favorite around here, as is any type of Panini. Fix the sandwich as usual and then wrap it in several layers of aluminum 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 stay toasty warm for hours. Mix and match the soup and sandwich combos for endless portable lunch possibilities.
Hot Lunch #2: 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 makes an excellent 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. You can use these souper cube containers for freezing chili, stews, and soups. This is also a great time for you to take lunch to work or keep a bowl at home to reheat at lunchtime. 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 lunchtime.
Hot Lunch #3: Leftovers Galore
Last but not least, don’t forget about leftovers. They make for great lunch box additions. There are wide-mouthed thermoses 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 leftovers 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. These are great plastic containers with lids, and if your kids throw them away, it’s not a complete loss. They aren’t very expensive.
Hot Lunch #4: Spaghetti and Meatballs
When I was growing up, my grandmother would take us to school while our parents worked. Sometimes, she would open cans of spaghetti and meatballs or spaghetti o’s and send them in our thermos for lunch.
Hot Lunch #5: Beans and Rice (or Cornbread)
Growing up, I didn’t really like rice, but I am from the South. We love our cornbread here. There were times that I would have pinto beans and cornbread for lunch because it was one of our leftovers.
Other times, I would have it because it was already cooked in the crockpot, and I had it for lunch and dinner. If you don’t have a crockpot, grab one. It will make a world of difference in your school lunch and family dinner plans. (I actually need to get a new one. Mine is over 20 years old and has been through three lids.)
What other hot lunches can you think of for school? List them in the comments.
This is the third in a series of posts about School Lunches. Check out the other posts.