Saturday, May 12, 2018

Frugal lunchbox idea - hot soup

For the past two weeks, S has been taking a Thermos Funtainer full of hot, homemade soup to school for lunch. In week one, she took pumpkin soup, and in week two, she took chicken barley soup. 

I love that she was eating such a nutritious, vege-packed lunch every day, and that it also happened to be frugal.

Both the pumpkin soup and the chicken barley soup were leftovers from dinner, made with mostly homegrown or homemade ingredients. 

I made the pumpkin soup out of a homegrown pumpkin and homemade chicken stock, and froze the leftovers in a large glass pyrex container. Before the start of the school week, I simply pulled the soup back out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge in its pyrex container. Each morning I scooped a small portion of soup into a small saucepan and heated it back to boiling, before decanting it into S's Thermos.  

I made the chicken barley soup out of homemade chicken stock, barley, and chopped vegetables (carrots, celery and zucchini). For S's lunches, I heated the soup in the morning in a small saucepan, and also added shredded rotisserie chicken, which we'd bought for lunch after church on Sunday.  
It only took a few minutes to reheat the soup and pour it into S's Thermos Funtainer. 

While the soup was cooking, I toasted a couple of slices of bread, which I then buttered and sliced up into strips to make toasty soldiers that S could dip in her soup. 

S needed a lunch bag that could fit her Thermos and other lunch items, so I picked up this one from Kmart for $10. It was the last of its kind, or I would have got another one for L, as it was the perfect size and also came with several reusable containers and a drink bottle.

Not to mention, how cute does it look? That sparkly unicorn! That rainbow!

Here's the lunchbag, packed with a Thermos of hot soup, a sandwich container of toasty soldiers, a home-baked muffin and a Sassy Strawberry Suckies. (The Suckies was a rare treat. I usually buy 12-packs of smooth yoghurt for S to have as her "brain food" snack. The yoghurts work out to be much more affordable per serve than Suckies, but I haven't been able to get them through my online Countdown order. One more reason I won't be renewing my delivery code when it expires.)

S's overall mood seemed a lot better with her eating soup each day. I'm not surprised. The chicken stock I make is highly nutritious. When it's cool, it actually looks like jelly, because I add a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the pot and cook it on a low heat all day. That process extracts the gelatine from the bones and makes for a much more nourishing stock than you could ever buy from the supermarket.

I love that nothing is wasted with homemade chicken stock. I make it out of food scraps and, when it has finished cooking, I whizz up the spent scraps in my Thermomix to make garden fertiliser. (Note: I now water the fertiliser down a lot before feeding it to the garden.)

Sadly, after two weeks of happily eating soup for lunch, S told me it was taking up too much of her lunch break and she wants me to pack something quicker to eat so she has more time to play.

I managed to buy her favourite pasta on special yesterday, and will cook up a small portion of that each morning next week to send to school in S's Thermos. The pasta will give S a break from soup for a week, but I plan to feed her soup the following week because I love how frugal and good-for-her it is. I'll probably just keep alternating soup with pasta week-by-week after that.

I also made use of one of our Thermos Funtainers for myself this week. We were heading out for the day and I didn't have time to make my usual salad for lunch, so I quickly reheated mince from the previous night's dinner and cooked up a couple of slices of Burgen bread.

I packed the toast in a Tupperware Sandwich Keeper and the mince in a Thermos Funtainer for a really quick, transportable lunch of mince on toast. (I also packed a plastic plate, a cloth napkin and a knife and fork so I could assemble the lunch when it was time to eat.) It worked a treat, and the mince was still hot when lunchtime arrived.

What are your best frugal lunch-on-the-go ideas?

(Note: I haven't been paid to talk about any of the products in this post; they are just products I happen to use and love.)

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