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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hot and Cold Lunches!

We all face different temperature issues when packing lunches for our kiddos. Sometimes it's how to keep everything cool, other times we try to find ways for them to eat a hot, home-cooked lunch.

Hot lunches are a great way to avoid sandwich fatigue and repurpose leftovers so we aren't always making something new. Some schools, especially for the younger tots, will heat up packed lunches for them. But as our kids have gotten older, it's a bit more of a free-for-all! Our best solution so far has been using a thermos, but here are a couple of our lunch packing tips!

For keeping cold:

Freeze your bread! Freezing the sliced bread for sandwiches keeps it fresher longer, and also ensures that the sandwich filling (like chicken or egg salad) stays cooler longer. The bread will be perfectly defrosted by lunch time!

Freeze yogurt! Yogurt can last longer than you think without strong refrigeration because it's bacteria cultures fight off anything hazardous, but freezing a yogurt is an easy way to add an "ice pack" without taking up a lot of extra space in a lunch.

Freeze a water bottle! Even a small water bottle or juice pack will keep lunches nice and cool in a backpack until lunch time.

Freeze the thermos! In the morning while you're packing a lunch and mainlining coffee, fill the thermos with ice water and let it sit in the freezer for 10 minutes. Pour out the ice water, put in your cold items, and be amazed at how long they stay chilly! This is perfect for packing a smoothie or milkshake for their lunches!

For keeping warm: 

Boil the (wide mouthed) thermos! Simply boil a small pot of water and pour it directly into the empty thermos, screw on the lid, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Remove the water and put in your favorite hot lunch! We love everything from an omelet, to chili, to meatball or mac n cheese. Even potstickers or shepherds' pie make great options!

Separate! Put napkins with utensils, a pack of crackers, or a banana in between the hot thermos and any sort of cold food you might be packing.

What are your lunchbox hacks? And how in the world do you get your kids to bring home the ice packs and all the containers?! :)

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