Vegan Hot Lunches–What to Put in a Thermos
I am married to a hard-working man! He works outside all year around, and so when Fall and Winter come, we have to be creative to give him something warm for lunch￼. Nobody wants to eat a cold lunch on a cold day! Thankfully we have figured out a few ways that work very well to provide a nice hot lunch to warm up my hard-working man!
It all starts with a thermos!
￼Yeah, thermoses are old school. That’s ok. Some things last because they work
Back in the day…
I remember my old lunchbox and thermos! I loved that set! I carried around my Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox daily, and lunchtime was so fun!
What I don’t remember is actually using that red and white thermos much! Not regularly. Maybe we tried it a couple of times, but I remember it being kind of messy. And not so hot. I was in first grade, though, so at that time PB&J was more interesting by far than soup!
I get the idea that lunchbox thermoses weren’t quite as good as working men thermos bottles.
The new Thermos—it’s actually the old Thermos!
Nowadays, they have perfected the Thermos containers for style, and they work to keep foods hot for hours! Piping hot! But it’s still essentially the same original thermos design!
The old Thermos bottles really did work, because they were designed for outdoor working men, just like my husband!
A little bit about Thermoses
If you’re kinda nerdy like me and like to learn about the history of things, you might find this article on the history of vacuum flasks, or thermoses, interesting. Did you know that William Shackleton and the Wright Brothers took thermos bottles on their voyages? I’m pretty sure theirs were not like my Strawberry Shortcake bottle!
There are a few keys to keep in mind when using a Thermos for your hot lunch.
First, you can put pretty much anything inside that you want to serve hot, so leftovers are great! I personally notice that wet ingredients stay hot for longer than non-wet foods. That’s why soups do so well in a Thermos!
Next–to get the best results (aka keeping your food hot), you must chose the appropriate size for your meal. You don’t want dead air space, because that will cool your food, and possibly risk spoilage.
We’ve decided that for us, the best lunchbox size is the size with the spoon attached to the lid! See the 16-oz size here This gives about 16 oz of entree, and, since my husband and teen boys take a couple of sandwiches too, that’s plenty! Plus, we really love the folding spoon! Sometimes little things make a big difference!
We have two of this 16-oz size, plus one, which you can purchase at Walmart, that’s slightly smaller. I find that the smaller, 10-oz Funtainer Thermos is pretty good, but I end up grabbing the 16-oz bottle more frequently for my husband. The 16-oz Thermos comes with the cup/lid, so that’s a plus. But in all honesty, when I pack two lunches, one with the Funtainer, and one with the 16-oz Thermos, the guys say they are both hot by lunchtime.
There are also some slightly larger lunchbox sizes if you need more volume, like 18 and 24 oz! Also, now they make some pretty neat Thermos bowl sets, made just for lunches.
You don’t have to stick to just Thermos brand! Stanley thermos containers are excellent, and are rated to keep food hot for 15 hours, and I believe it! We’ve sent hot tea in the very large (2 liter) Stanley thermos, and at the end of a cold day, 14 hours later, the tea was still hot! I saw some look-alike containers at Aldi, even with the spoon, but when I read the label, it said food would stay hot for up to 4 hours. That’s not good enough for me, so I skipped those. You can get that big Stanley thermos here at amazon
Preparing your Thermos for a Hot Lunch
A couple of simple tips can make a difference in how hot your food stays in your man’s lunch!
- Fill your Thermos with boiling water and close tightly 15 minutes before you plan to fill it with food
- When you’ve let the Thermos pre-heat for at least 15 mins, then you can pour out the water and fill with piping hot food! (I use a mason jar funnel to help with this!)
- Close up quickly, and the food will stay hot in the vacuum packed Thermos for hours!
- Note that you’re not supposed to leave food for longer than 24 hours or it could explode when opening, because of the vacuum seal. Thankfully, we’ve never experienced that!
- Beans or Lentils. Thin down beans with broth or water/diced tomatoes to make them soupy. Hearty Red Lentil Stew
- Soup–any leftovers heat up easily to add to your thermos.
- Tofu noodle soup. Add boiling water to thermos, add Copycat McKay’s Chicken Seasoning, cooked or small uncooked noodles–Ramen work well (they will cook by lunchtime) add cubed tofu, mushrooms, and veggies for a quick and delicious soup!!
- Mac and cheese. Vegan cheese + your favorite pasta!
- Spaghetti and meatballs. Like this recipe 🍝
- Seasoned Rice & Beans or the base of Haystacks. See this post: Let’s Make some Haystacks!! My husband happens to prefer soupy meals, so I’d have to serve this for myself.
- Rice and Plant Based Pesto.
- Potatoes and pesto or gravy
- Oatmeal patties and gravy.
- Refried beans, tomatoes, and mushrooms–so simple, but my husband loves it! You can open three cans in the morning and season as desired, and have this ready in a flash!
- Scrambled tofu and diced potatoes! See tofu recipe here
Use your imagination if you’d like to try something warm for dessert! I don’t usually get this creative for a weekday lunch!
- Warm apple crisp
- Warmed bake apples or applesauce. Send a bag of granola to top it off! ￼￼￼
The possibilities are endless!
Truly, the only thing limiting what you can put into your thermos for a hot vegan lunch is your imagination! If you can cook it, you can use a Thermos to keep it warm! I’ve even heard of people sending corn on the cob in a Thermos! If my guy had time to sit down and eat an ear of corn, I dare say he’d want it on a plate with vegan butter and the fixins! But, do what you like, and what sound good for lunch!
I hope this gives you some warm vegan ideas for lunch.
Why don’t you let me know what you like for lunch on a cold Winter’s day? Maybe your idea will inspire someone else!