Giving a hot meal as a packed lunch is a real treat, especially in the winter. Packing in an insulated food jar can also be a huge time saver because you can give left overs from dinner or you can batch cook foods and freeze them for future lunches. It also adds more variety by introducing warm foods to the lunchbox list: perfect for those children who don't like sandwiches and wraps or who are very fussy and have less variety in their foods. But don't forget that insulated food jars can also be used to keep foods cold, so read on for lots of ideas!
Some insulated food jar tips and hacks
When cooking dinner, add some extra veg or grains so that you'll have enough leftovers for packed lunch the next day. You can also batch cook and freeze meals, defrost the night before and heat before packing in the morning.
When packing warm foods, pour boiling water into the jar and let it sit for around 5-10 minutes, before emptying it and filling it with the food. For cold foods do the same with iced water or put the jar in the freezer overnight.
Heat the food hotter than you would normally serve it if eaten right away. This will keep it warm for longer, and the food will spend less time in the dangerous temperature zone where bacteria can grow.
The more of the jar you fill with food the longer it will retain the temperature, so try and fill most of the jar.
If packing pastries, chicken nuggets, or anything breaded, put a folded piece of paper towel into the bottom of the food jar. This will absorb condensation and prevent sogginess.
You can also wrap the food jar in a small towel. This will also keep the heat in and help to keep the food hot longer.
Very important: food packed in a lunchbox / food jar should always be thoroughly cooked through, so no raw eggs, or under-cooked meats.
Ideas of foods to pack in your insulated food jar:
- Chili con carne
- Leftover stir fry with rice / noodles
- Chicken Nuggets
- Fried Rice
- Baked pasta eg Macaroni and cheese, lasagna
- Baked beans
- Apple crumble
- Stewed fruit
- Meatballs and patties
- Mini pies and quiches
- Sausages, sausage rolls
- Sausage and mash potato
- Fruit Salad
- Chicken salad
- Overnight Oats
- Bircher muesli
- Pasta salad
- Smoothie bowl