Stew in thermal lunch jars
Morning prep time: 8 minutes each (15 minutes for two lunches). What’s unique about this lunch is the way I packed the stew and rice in my thermal lunch jar. When packing hot stew (or curry, etc.) in the bottom of the rice container, if you pack a layer of rice on top of the stew to create a rice “lid”: 1) it keeps both rice and stew warm, 2) you’re able to enjoy both flavors separately, and 3) it keeps the liquidy stew from leaking if the lunch container is manhandled in transit. I saw this tip in a Japanese bento cookbook, originally for packing Japanese curry for a child in one of the little insulated bento sets like the one Bug used below. This is particularly helpful with my adult thermal lunch jars, as the biggest container is for rice, and the seal on the lid is not water-tight. Using this packing method I was able to pack the largest container with my main dish without leakage. This technique also works with regular thermal food jars, keeping hot food hot for better food safety.
I had leftover sancocho (Latin American stew that I made with beef, tripe, potatoes, yucca and malanga — like taro) from the night before, so when cleaning up after dinner I packed up my stew in a thermal lunch jar, chopped up Bug’s stew and put it in a microwave-safe dish, and popped both into the refrigerator overnight. It was one of the occasions when I actually made rice for dinner, so I let the rice sit in the rice cooker overnight. In the morning all I did was nuke both bowls of stew, put Bug’s hot stew into his thermal food jar, pack warm rice, nuked broccoli in my microwave mini steamer, throw some speed bento items into mine (frozen spaghetti cup, cherry tomatoes, and cheese triangle), and used the spare time to make a quick tamagoyaki (rolled egg) in my smallest tamagoyaki pan (step-by-step tutorial here). Once you get the hang of making rolled egg you can crank them out in a hurry.
Here’s my lunch when fully packed. Note the full “lid” of rice on top of the stew in the large container.
Bug’s lunch has pretty much the same items as mine, but his hot stew is packed inside of the thermal food jar that came with his insulated bento set. At 560ml total capacity, this bento set is a little large for a two-year old (according to the bento box size guidelines I translated), so I left a lot of empty room in the container for the stew so that we were able to add the rice when he was ready to eat it.
- Leftover Remake: Curry gyoza (tutorial)
- Tutorial: How to make dashimaki tamago (tamagoyaki)
- Need for speed: A mommy’s lunch manifesto
- How to pack a bento lunch and use “gap fillers”
- Biggie’s list of top speed tips, tutorials and equipment reviews