Hot Lunch for Your Kid on a Busy Morning: Review of Microwavable Thermos Containers from Zojirushi

Rice and tofu main course, with crunchy chickpeas and raisins for snack
My daughter recently started preschool. How could my tiny little baby that used to fit in the crook of my arm be in... preschool?

She's learning so much. ("Did you know mama that rain comes from clouds?") She loves it! I have had no choice but to be happy despite my wistful disbelief. It's been an emotional experience all around... And then we come to the practical side of things.

In Preschool the Teachers Do Not Heat Food for the Kids

First day of preschool, sob!
As I've mentioned elsewhere on this site, my daughter has been going to day care since she was 3 months old. This means that ever since she's started eating solid food, for the past 2 and a half years, I have been packing her lunch. The process and menu are well established and routine.  The food gets put into the sealed containers and labeled the night before.  She gets basically one of 5 things (3 of which would generally be served hot) and a snack/desert. In the morning, it just gets thrown in her lunch box with an ice pack and we're good to go. When you combine this fact with the limited number of items the girl is guaranteed to eat, the lunch routine has little room for error.  

In the toddler room, the teachers were happy to heat the food.  In preschool, there are more kids per teacher and the school encourages independence in the kids by having them serve themselves.  This is all perfectly fine except for the fact that it ruins (RUINS I SAY) our routine. The school handout helpfully suggested that parents send hot lunch in a thermos. However, our mornings are hectic, and ideally fast.  I do not have time to microwave the food and then transfer it to a thermos, before packing it. 

Oh the first world problems this causes... cue the deep internet searches....

The Thermos with Removable, Microwavable Containers

I was so excited when I realized that a Zojirushi Thermos was exactly what we were looking for.  It comes in multiple sizes.  All of the sizes have 1 or 2 containers that stay inside the thermos part (and thus can be kept hot or cold) and 1 or 2 additional containers that stays in the lid at room temperature. The diagram shows the biggest one - Zojirushi SL-JAE14SA Mr. Bento Stainless Steel Lunch Jar. We picked the smallest version - the bizarrely sexistly named Zojirushi SL-MEE07AB Ms.Bento Stainless Lunch Jar. It has just one of each: a thermos container and a room temperature one (the room temperature container comes with a removable divider as well). This fits with what we typically send to school (main course and snack).  

It's perfect for our needs.  The thermos size we got fits nicely into her lunch box, as though it was designed with that in mind (I am very certain it wasn't). I pack and label the lunch the night before in the microwavable container. In the morning, I throw the container in the microwave and then straight into the thermos - no moving of food necessary! Also, it does a great job keeping the food at the desired temperature.  The bits of lunch that remain uneaten at the end of the school day, are still warm when I'm emptying the container in the evening.
Thermos in lunchbox

My only quibble is that the containers are not dishwasher safe, but such is life.

If you have a hot-lunch-loving, school-going munchkin in your life and are looking to keep your mornings simple - I really recommend this thermos.



 
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