Sometimes as parents we get too caught up in the temperature of our kids’ lunches.
Of course, there are some temperatures we need to pay attention to. For food safety, we really ought to keep cold foods under 40 F and hot foods over 140 F. Because let’s face it, barfing kids are not fun kids.
But beyond that, we might restore a bit of sanity to our lunch packing lives if we took a slightly more laissez faire attitude to food temperature.
As in, not hesitating to serve leftover pasta cold. Ditto for meat.
In fact, one of Parker’s favorite lunches is leftover pasta carbonara — cold. And while he likes his steak tacos with hot steak packed in a thermos, there are days when I simply don’t have the time or energy in the morning to heat up it and his thermos.
And he still gobbles it up.
It is entirely possible my kid is a freak. But I’m willing to believe more kids would embrace this if given the chance.
After all, the world is full of cultures where meat and noodle dishes are served cold. So while cold pasta carbonara isn’t quite the same as cold peanut noodles… why not? Both dishes are fatty and rich and carby. And if we’ll eat cold sliced roast beef, why not cold sliced steak?
The trick with serving meats cold often is in the slicing. I tend to slice the steak as thinly as possible, especially if I’m using it in a sandwich. Cold steak can be a bit chewy, so thin slices are easier on little mouths.
The exception is chicken, which I generally think is tender enough to be slapped onto anything in any form.
And don’t underestimate the appeal of condiments in making cold meats easier to stomach. Barbecue sauce, ketchup, sour cream, vinaigrette… they all go a long way to making cold meats tastier.
It was in this spirit that today’s lunch was packed. Cold “sausage” patties made from heavily seasoned ground veal and turkey. Parker loved them warm for dinner last night. I’m thinking the addition to some sour cream and barbecue sauce will make him love them cold today.