Hot And Hearty Thermos Lunches

It's always nice to be able to have a hot meal while spending time outdoors

By Linda Gabris and Michaela Ludwig

You don’t have to stay cooped up inside just because it’s winter – winter hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing are just a few fun activities you can enjoy. Having a hot meal available makes spending time in the chilly outdoors that much more enjoyable and cooking expert Linda Gabris has some great thermos lunch ideas for you to try.

Photographer man standing with trekking poles on snow peak with mountain and lake view on Opabin Plateau at Yoho national park, Canada

Thermos Care

Uncapping a moldy-smelling thermos or one that reeks of onions, garlic or other stronger foods from your last outing is very unappetizing. To ensure your thermos is fresh and clean, wash it after every use with hot soapy water, rinse with boiling water and air dry. If it still smells musty, put a couple tablespoons of baking soda into the jug to absorb the odor and let it stand until cool. Empty, rinse well with boiling water and air dry.



Preheating The Thermos

Don’t skip this step because preheating before filling ensures the food will stay hot longer. To do so, fill the jug with boiling water, cap and let stand for about five minutes before draining. Once preheated, immediately fill the thermos with boiling food and cap. And keep in mind, a thermos filled to the max stays hot much longer than one that’s only partially filled, so choose a jug size that suits your needs.


Best Fills For Cold-Weather Outings

Foods that can be boiled before loading, such as soups and stews, stay hot longer than solid foods like fried rice and scrambled eggs because the latter two cannot be brought to the boiling point. Also, steaming liquids seem to warm up the body better than solids.



Beef & Barley Soup

This makes a big potful, so if you’re going on a family outing, you can load everybody’s thermos to the hilt. But don’t fret if you’re going solo because leftovers can be frozen for future outings.


2 pounds stewing meat, cut into cubes

3 tablespoon olive oil

1 minced onion

4 cloves minced garlic

1 cup diced celery

3 or 4 diced carrots

1 cup diced turnip

1 can (14.5 ounces, 411 grams) diced canned tomatoes

3/4 cup pearl barley

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

1 tablespoon seasoned salt (or to suit taste)

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 quarts of game or beef stock (or water flavoured with beef bouillon cubes)

1/4 cup small, dried soup pasta (optional)


Heat oil in soup pot, brown meat. Add onion, garlic and celery, sauté until soft. Add remaining ingredients, except pasta, if using. Cover and simmer for one-and-a-half hours. Add the pasta, simmer until barely tender. Taste and adjust seasoning. Load into preheated thermos. Oh, and don’t forget to tuck a regular soup spoon into your tackle box.


Thermos-Style Chicken Stew

This small-batch stew is fast and easy to prepare, and it’s delicious if you make it from grouse breasts, too. Makes about six cups.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 boneless, skinless and diced chicken breast

1 small minced onion

1 clove minced garlic

1 tablespoon flour

3 cups hot chicken stock

1 tablespoon diced celery

1 diced carrot

1 diced potato

1/2 cup fresh or thawed green peas

Sprig of oregano

Salt and pepper to taste


Heat oil in a saucepan and sauté chicken until cooked through, three or four minutes. Add onion and garlic, sauté until soft. Stir in the flour, cook until lightly browned. Slowly stir in the stock, cook until smooth. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil. Load into a preheated jug and by lunchtime the veggies will be thermos-cooked to perfection.



If you love hotdogs, try this. Boil the desired amount of wieners in a saucepan of water until thoroughly cooked. Pack into a preheated thermos, cover with the boiling water they were cooked in, filling the thermos to the max, and cap. Tuck hotdog buns into a Ziploc bag, rig up a little container of chosen condiments (mustard, relish, ketchup, onions) and you’re good to go. At lunch time, fork out a weiner, land on a bun and top. Oh, and the bonus deal is the boiling liquid in the thermos can be used to make instant soup to enjoy on the side.


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