Think Outside the Sandwich! Hot Lunch Ideas
The key to staying out of a lunch-packing rut (and man are those easy to fall into!) is to think outside the sandwich. Sorry, sandwiches, we love you so much, we can’t go there every day. And our kids just can’t go there every day. But once you start thinking of leftovers as a vital part of your lunch packing roster, a whole new world opens up!
Here are our top five tips for sending along a lunch that’s as warm as a hug.
- Get smart with gear. Using well-insulated food containers is a must. And don’t forget to put them somewhere in your kitchen that is easy to access. No one is getting up on a chair to reach up to the cupboard over the fridge on a busy weekday morning! We love: Lunch Bot Thermal 16 oz thermos has a nice wide mouth for soups and chilis. We’re obsessed with the OmieLife Omiebox which allows for a hot lunch to live along side cool, crisp fruits and vegetables. And a classic Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Jar will keep lunches warm for up to five hours.
- Put the kettle on. For a thermos to do its job, you need to warm it up before the food goes in. While you’re getting everything else organized, boil some water and fill up the thermos. Let that hot water sit for at least five minutes to heat up the container.
- Gently heat up your soup, pasta or chili until it is piping hot. Put the hot food in the container and get that lid on!
- Get your leftover habit started with this vitamin packed Veggie Skillet Lasagna. Great for dinner, even better the next day in a thermos.
Veggie Skillet Lasagna
Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 20 minutes | Yield: serves 6
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- salt and pepper
- 6 – 8 mushrooms, sliced
- 1 x 19 oz can of tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 8 oz (250 grams) of dried pasta like farfalle
- 1 cup grated mozzarella
- 1 cup ricotta
- A small handful of fresh basil
- Warm up olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and allow them to soften about 3 minutes. Toss in zucchini and mushrooms and oregano. Stir occasionally for 3 to 5 minutes until the vegetables are starting to soften. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add canned tomatoes and break them up with the back of a spoon. Pour in water. Stir everything together and bring to a simmer.
- Pour pasta into the sauce and make sure it is mostly submerged. Allow pasta to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
- When the pasta is just about cooked, stir in mozzarella.
- Spoon ricotta over top of the dish. Cover the skillet for about 3 minutes to allow the cheese to warm through and soften. Sprinkle fresh basil before serving.
Laura Keogh and Ceri Marsh are a couple of magazine-editors-turned-food-bloggers. Also, they’re mothers obsessed with delicious, healthy, family food. They’re constantly thinking of ways to make your time (and their own!) in the kitchen easier and more productive, but are still nostalgic for the days when dinner was cereal eaten over the kitchen sink. They are the authors of the best selling cookbook How to Feed A Family, and their latest, The School Year Survival Cookbook. Learn more at sweetpotatochronicles.com.