Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

School hot lunch may have improved since we were in school, but there are still far too many days when the cafeteria is serving “leftover surprise,” that will be more likely to end up in the cafeteria trash can than your child’s belly. Our school lunch calendars actually say, “We reserve the right to change this menu without notice.” My kids reserve the right to go hungry on those days…and I just don’t like the thought of that!

If you want your child to have a nice warm meal, especially on those extra-cold days, you can send something from home with one small addition to your child’s lunch box – a stainless steel (aka difficult to break) wide-mouth hot/cold insulated container. There are several healthy and safe ways you can ensure your child has a hot meal, even when the cafeteria is serving last week’s chicken surprise casserole.

The easiest cold “hot” lunch you can send with your child is soup. Tomato soup is the best; in addition to being healthy and hearty, it’s a low-mess option since there are no noodles or stars or chunks of any kind. If you’re worried about your child’s ability to pour the soup into the cup themselves, practice at home with water until they are comfortable, or choose an insulated container that can drink from directly. Remind your child to be careful opening the container, since the contents will be hot.

Beyond soup, whatever you had for dinner the night before can be potential hot lunch for your child the next day. Try sending stew, chili, or homemade mac and cheese. You can even put leftover spaghetti in the container! Whatever you decide to send, play it safe by making sure you thoroughly heat the food before placing it in the insulated container. The food must stay hot enough to be safe (over 140 degrees).