Hot lunch – Your way!

Making your own hot lunch.

Do you ever want something more substantial than a sandwich or salad for lunch? Would eating something warm feel better to you during the winter months? Making your own hot lunch might be the answer. Here are some ideas from Michigan State University Extension to help you make a hot, homemade lunch.

Take your lunch to work in a vacuum bottle. There are many on the market and any wide mouth vacuum bottle carry anything hot . Glass or stainless steel lined bottles make the best choice for keeping foods hot. Soups, chowders, stews or even baked beans work great – all you need to bring is crackers for soup, a piece of fruit and a nutritious beverage to go with it. Casseroles are also great stored in this way – you can use leftovers from the night before and save money two ways – by not throwing them out and by saving having to buy lunch. Just make sure everything you put into the jar is HOT. It is also advisable to heat the bottle before putting the food into it by filling it with clean, hot water. After you let it stand a minute or two, empty the water and fill with the HOT contents. This helps keep the hot foods hotter longer. Food safety comes into play if your hot foods become lukewarm before eating.

If you don’t have a thermos and have access to a microwave at work or school, you have even more options. Make a habit of putting your left-over’s into individual meal sized freezer containers, label, date and freeze. When you want a homemade hot lunch, take one out of the freezer and take it to work. Put into the work refrigerator until lunch time. Take the food out of the plastic container to cook in the microwave, unless you are using a microwave safe container. Anything – even hot sandwich filling – can be frozen. (You may want to bring an unfrozen bun for that). Any pasta, soup, casserole or vegetable dish will work great for your mini-meal. Remember that when heating, the left-overs need to get to 140 degrees Farhrenheit, which is hot to the touch.

I have been bringing food from home for years and never get tired of my homemade, hot lunches. They taste better than the frozen “mini-meals” I could buy and I’m saving money. Sometimes I make larger recipes on weekends, just to have the leftovers for lunch during the week. If you want to learn more about cooking or stretching your food dollar, call your local MSU Extension office, visit or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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