School drop-off this morning was a mad dash! Kids dodging puddles, hoods up against the lashing rain as they ran through the school gates. I thought of the warm food flask that was packed in Lil’s bag and what a great idea they are.
I always take comfort in packing a warm lunch for school in the winter months.
Whenever I chat to parents about the option of a hot food flask, they often wonder why they had never thought of it before. Food flasks are widely available – we picked ours up on Amazon. They are durable, budget friendly and so simple to prepare in the morning rush. Simply preheat the flask for 10 to 15 minutes with hot water, empty it out then add in your hot food. This can be leftovers from the night before reheated in the microwave.
As well as preventing food waste and saving money, you are giving the kids a tasty lunch that they will really look forward to. Warm lunches can also aid digestion by taking a little longer to consume than a quick sandwich, meaning they will feel fuller for longer, and warmer from the inside out.
Here are three of our favorite winter warmer flask fillers (they make a tasty midweek dinner too). Each recipe serves four, keeping some leftovers for school the next day.
Savoury Golden Rice with Chicken
Golden savoury rice with seasoned chicken has to be one of our favourite family recipes and can be cooked, press to plate, in 25 minutes. It tastes even better the next day in a hot food flask.
Add a teaspoon each of oregano, smoked paprika and Cajun spice to a tablespoon of rapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper.
Brush the oil all over three chicken breasts then dice.
Fry the diced chicken in a large, heavy-based pan for 10 minutes.
Peel and dice two medium carrots and add them to a large saucepan along with 100g of frozen peas, 100g of frozen sweetcorn, 1 cup of long grain rice and 2 cups of water. Boil together for 10 minutes.
After the 10 minutes, drain the rice and veg and add them to the pan with the chicken.
Season with a little salt and pepper, add a chicken stock pot and sprinkle in a teaspoon of turmeric.
Serve up piping hot, reserving some leftovers for a hot food flask.
Bolognese Packed with Veg
This is one of our favourite food flask meals and it’s packed with veggies for extra nourishment.
Prepare your vegetables by dicing a carrot and an onion (you can grate these if the kids prefer), slice a stick of celery and crush two garlic cloves.
In a large pan, heat a glug of rapeseed oil and sauté the onion, garlic, carrot and celery until soft and golden.
Add 100g of tomato paste and sauté for two to three minutes – this helps deepen the flavour.
Add 500g of lean beef mince, breaking it up and frying until brown.
Pour in 200g of passata and add a pinch of sugar to offset the acidity of the tomato.
Finish by seasoning with salt and pepper and adding a tablespoon of oregano.
Leave to simmer for 25-30 minutes until everything is well cooked and the sauce has thickened.
Meanwhile, cook your spaghetti according to the packet instructions.
Any leftovers, save for your food flask. Spaghetti keeps better overnight when mixed with the Bolognese sauce, making it easier to reheat in the morning.
Country Vegetable Soup
We love this warming lunch in winter paired with a buttered crusty bread roll.
Melt 1tbsp of butter in a saucepan.
Sauté one diced, medium-sized onion, two sliced celery sticks and one medium-sized leek, also sliced.
Peel and chop three medium-sized potatoes and three carrots and add them to the pan.
Cook all the vegetables in the butter until they have softened.
Add in 600ml of hot vegetable stock and cover the pan with a lid, leaving it to simmer for 30 minutes.
When ready, blend with a stick blender and finish with a little cream if desired.
Save until needed to fill your hot food flask – a real winter tummy warmer.