Penny Pinching 101 - Thermos Tips!

1:33 PM

Save a few pennies by using a thermos!

As part of my continuing effort to pinch a penny I’ve been bring my lunch to work.  Bringing lunch from home can be great!  The problem for me is that we don’t have a microwave at the office.  (That’s seriously no bueno)

The only way for me to have a hot lunch is to bring a thermos.  I’ll be frank, bringing a thermos sucked until I figured out a few key tips to make life in thermos-land a little easier.

Use a kettle of hot water to pre-heat your thermos!

Problem #1 – My lunch was warm at lunch time, but not HOT.  I prefer hot food.

Solution – “Pre heat” the thermos.  Add boiling hot water to the thermos before you add the hot food.  Allow the hot water to sit in the thermos (with the lid on) while you prepare your food.  When the food is ready, dump out the water, add the food and replace the lid.    Also, over heat the food just slightly.  I used to heat my meals to the “warm/hot enough to eat” stage before adding them to the thermos.  These days I heat the meal to the “too hot to eat” stage.  The meal will cool to “just right” by lunch time.

Use a canning funnel to get the food in neatly!

Canning funnel is a perfect fit!
Problem #2 – Getting the food into the thermos makes a mess!

Solution – Use a canning funnel to transfer hot food into the thermos.  The wide spout reduces or eliminates mess and over flow.

Problem #3 – the proportion is all wrong.  Say I’m bringing lamb stew and rice for lunch.  Half the time there’s too much of one or the other.  I’d end up with WAY too much rice and not enough lamb or vice versa.

Plate the food before you heat it!

Solution – Make a plate.  Meaning, scoop the rice and lamb on to a plate in the proper proportions.  Microwave until too hot to eat, and then add to the thermos. 

Problem #4 – Carrying a thermos is a pain in the neck.  My commute includes walking about 2 miles each day (saves on a gym membership).   Schlepping a thermos through the city is awkward.  I need my hands for coffee and checking my iphone.  (Yes, I do too much while walking)

A strap with a plastic buckle is easy  and cheap to make

Solution - Make (or buy) a strap with a plastic buckle.  Loop the strap through the thermos handle and you’re good to go!

Problem #5 – it’s nearly impossible to eat out of that little thermos cup.

Don't forget the dishes!  (paper or plastic)
Solution – Bring a plate and flatware for meal time.  I always feel like a 5 year old or a soldier scooping food from a tiny container with a miniature spoon.  Since I’m not at the school lunch table or dodging enemy fire when I eat, I try to eat like a regular person.  That means sitting in a comfortable place with a real plate (paper or plastic) and full size flatware (sometimes disposable and sometimes the real thing).

Pro tip:

  •  Don’t forget to being a little dish soap for clean up and napkins!
  •      Use a travel shampoo bottle for dish soap.
  • Toss a thermos of hot food in the car before you set out to run weekend errands.  If you have hot delicious food with you, you’re less likely to eat out. That saves money, time and empty calories.
  • If you can, find a pretty place to eat.  A thermos meal is a portable meal.  You don’t have to eat at your desk or in the car.  Find a park bench or a pretty place to unwind for a few minutes.

Super Pro tip:   If you don’t have a thermos and you’re not sure you want to invest in one, check out mug monsters.  This product allows you to turn a mason jar into a thermos!  (I'm going to order mine without the eyes).

Mug Monster turns a canning jar into a thermos!

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