A radical shift in lunch-making: hot lunch!

After a long absence from documenting my school lunches, I have returned to share my experience with packing hot lunches. Hot lunches? What?! I’ve been packing lunches and snacks for at least a decade but, for some reason, I never tried using an insulated container to pack warm food. I don’t know why—maybe because it’s rarely cold in this part of California. I also typically pack lunches the night before and making a hot lunch requires a level of morning productivity that I don’t always have. However, if the kids ask for the occasional hot lunch, who am I to deny them just because I’m not a morning person?

I decided to test out our new Themos containers with a kid favorite: mac and cheese with peas. When I asked them if their mac and cheese was hot at lunch, their response was: “um, I forgot.” Next, I tried heating up their favorite Progresso soup in the morning and, this time, they assured me that the soup was nice and warm at lunch time. So far so good. Then I tried packing Cup Noodles with edamame and a little seaweed sesame seed sprinkle on top. They loved it! But, the most popular Thermos lunch was yesterday’s serving of leftover pad see ew from our favorite Thai Restaurant, Thai Boat.

Overall, I’ve been pleased with these insulated containers. They hold 16 ounces which is a good size for bigger kids (mine are 12 and 9). They also have a handy fold-up spoon that tucks into the lid. It is recommended that you pre-warm the containers by filling them with hot water, which I’ve been doing.  Because I don’t totally trust my kids conception of “hot”, I packed myself some homemade soup one day for lunch. When I took off the lid, the soup was steaming. Very satisfying!

Slurping Noodles in the Sun

Cup Noodles with tofu, peas, crispy prosciutto, and hoisin sauce

Behold the humble, yet strangely satisfying, Cup Noodles. I don’t buy too many convenience foods, but I admit to a weakness for Cup Noodles. I know Cup Noodles are basically an engineered, sodium-filled, ultra-processed, non-real food and I wouldn’t recommend eating them regularly. However, I do ocassionally indulge in Cup Noodles with fun add-ins, like: peas, tofu, crispy prosciutto, and hoisin sauce. If you’re going to eat something as inexpensive as Cup Noodles, you might as well fancy them up with some delicious add-ins.

Cup Noodles with tofu, peas, crispy prosciutto, and hoisin sauce
Cup Noodles with tofu, peas, crispy prosciutto, and hoisin sauce

Naturally, the kids love slurping Cup Noodles in the sun.

Iain slurping noodles
Iain slurping noodles
Lily slurping noodles
Lily slurping noodles

Ramen Noodles and A Love of All Things Asian, Especially Condiments

lunch on 11 Sept 2013: cold ramen noodles, pretzels, green pea baked snacks and grapes
lunch on 11 Sept 2013: cold ramen noodles, pretzels, green pea baked snacks and grapes
lunch on 11 Sept 2013: cold ramen noodles, pretzels, green pea baked snacks and grapes

I am crazy about ramen noodles. Especially Japanese restaurant-style ramen noodles served in enormous steaming bowls and loaded with goodies. The kiddos are also crazy about ramen noodles, so for lunch today, I made a little ramen bowl with edamame, corn, teriyaki tofu and scallions. For the sauce, I juiced a lime and combined it with some soy sauce, honey and teriyaki sauce. I always have lots of condiments on hand to spice up a bowl of ramen noodles. You see, I have a thing for Asian condiments. I have, what you might call, a little collection of them:

assorted Asian condiments
assorted Asian condiments

It just so happens that I pretty much fall in love with every Asian cuisine I encounter. Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Filipino, Malaysian food: it’s all delicious to me. I have spent years trying to perfect various Asian dishes, hence, my fridge full of condiments. When I was first learning to cook and living by myself in Chicago, I learned all sorts of ancient Vietnamese cooking secrets from my good friend, Ann-Marie, who is also a condiment hoarder. Thanks to Ann-Marie, I am never without a giant bottle of Squid Brand Fish Sauce. In fact, I think of her every time I use it. And, as for soy sauce—you can often find four or five different types in my fridge. Do I really need all these bottles of soy sauce taking up precious space in my already packed refrigerator? But of course I do. Doesn’t everyone need light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, tamari, reduced sodium Kikkoman, etc.? Hey, I’m always ready to stir-fry.

Don’t even get me started on my noodle collection.