Aren’t we all looking for the latest, greatest way to get dinner on the table? Quick weeknight meals never go out of style and this Sun Dried Tomato Chicken & Pasta Skillet meal is one everyone will love.
The beauty of this Creamy Sun Dried Tomato and Chicken Pasta Skillet Meal recipe is that it tastes like it took a lot more time to bring together than it actually does. Simple ingredients like sun dried tomatoes, half and half, fresh basil and chicken breasts combine with penne pasta to create a filling, quick meal your family is sure to enjoy.
You can even use adapt to your family’s needs by using gluten-free pasta! Check out this quick video and see how easy this skillet meal is to make.
As always, any leftovers make for delicious thermos lunches the next day!
Since the invention of a thermos, people want to know how long will the food last hot, how long should the food be heated, and of course, if it’s safe to eat.
First, watch this video so you see the do’s and don’ts to make sure your food stays hot in the thermos.
Is your child’s lunch going to make him or her sick? Probably not, so relax a little. Most common food poisonings result from eating foods that contain large numbers of harmful bacteria.
The likelihood of the lunch you pack for your child in the morning growing serious amounts of bacteria in 4 to 5 hours, when packed properly in a lunch box, inside an insulated lunch bag, and with an ice-pack is slim (but sure, it could happen).
Today, we are talking hot foods. Hot foods you want to pack for lunch in a thermos.
After a lot of testing in the kitchen and purchasing different thermos containers, I believe I have a pretty good guide for you to follow.
How long is it safe to eat? It depends on the container and how you heat up the food.
Bacteria grows quicker between 40 and 140F. Perishable foods should not stay at that temperature range longer than 3 hours.
Food packed inside any lunch container should be cooked thoroughly at a safe temperature (no raw eggs, avoid raw onions, undercooked meats or fish).
Soups, pasta, and any other hot foods should be heated on a stove to a boiling point (212F, 100C) and microwaved piping hot prior to packing.
The problem is that most parents heat up foods as hot as they would normally serve it for dinner. Remember, you are not heating up the food to eat now, you are heating it so that it can be safely eaten 3 to 5 hours later. When you heat food like this, the lunch will be cold, regardless of the container you use.
I tested the thermos containers three times by preheating the thermoses before adding the food each time. The food was filled at 7:30 am, and the lid came off at noon.
Thermos Brand 10-ounce capacity Foogo stainless.This one is similar to the Funtainer. The temperature began at 208F, and after 4 to 5 hours, was 134F. Would I recommend this container? Yes. I own one. Like the one above, it’s great for younger kids.
Aladdin 12-ounce BPA–free plastic. The temperature began at 210F, and after 4 to 5 hours, it was 110F. Would I recommend it? Yes and no. Yes, if you are an adult and have access to a microwave and can reheat the food. It’s difficult for younger kids to open because the lid is wide (my 7-year-old could not open it). Overall, this is the worst performing thermos and we don’t recommend it.
Lunchbots 16-ounce capacity stainless container.The temperature began at 210F, and after 4 to 5 hours, it was 130F. Would I recommend? Yes. I own one. It has a wider mouth, so it can be difficult for the younger ones to open. It has a larger capacity, so it’s perfect for bigger appetites.
Stanley 17-ounce stainless.The temperature began at 210F, and after 4 to 5 hours, it was 165F! It was nearly too hot to eat. Would I recommend? Yes. I bought it for this test and will be using it for my husband’s lunches because he typically leaves at 7 am and doesn’t eat until 1 or 2 pm sometimes. It’s a great option for older kids with bigger appetites. It wasn’t difficult to open because the mouth isn’t as wide as #3 and #4. The only con is that it is bigger and bulkier.
To prove the test, I heated up a bowl of soup to a temperature my kids would eat, 150F (and even this was a bit hot for my son). I filled the thermos with the hot soup, and after 4 to 5 hours in containers 1 through 4, it was cold (barely warm at best), and in #5, the Stanley, it was warm and edible.
My advice is for you to make sure you preheat your thermos, heat up the food to a boiling point or piping hot, and purchase a thermos that suits your needs.
Ask yourself: Will the thermos fit into my child’s lunch box? How much food will I be filling it with? Will my kindergartener be able to open it? Remember, with any new container you purchase for your child, you must teach him/her how to use it first at home.
If you are pretty new at lunch packing, need school lunch ideas, or need a little direction to make sure your child eats a varied diet, you are not alone. You can always subscribe to our school lunch plan.
Are you looking for more kid-friendly veggie recipes? This Veggie Macaroni and Cheese recipe is a winner!
I love thermos lunches. In the fall, winter, and early spring, I try to have a thermos lunch once a week in our school lunch menus. A good thermos school lunch tells my kids that mom wanted them to have a homemade “meal” for lunch that day.
I’ve tried filling them with lasagna, spaghetti, and soups, and they are typically very receptive. On the other hand, should I have the bright idea of filling the thermos with leftover grilled vegetables from dinner, the thermos would come back untouched.
I don’t know what it is about the kids + veggies combination. Why does it have to be so hard to get them to eat more veggies?
Since my kids are very picky, I’m constantly trying to find ways in which I can sneak more of them into their diet (hidden, cooked differently, in their favorite recipe, baked—you name it, I’ll try it).
I love my thermos containers. I can pack a filling lunch that is easy to eat in their 20-minute lunch period.
Some of the other things I’m always keeping in mind when creating MOMables menus are ways to revamp leftovers, help my subscribers stay on a budget, and use real and convenient ingredients.
I wrote a post in this column about why I am on a mission to help others feed their kids better.
One of the reasons the use of more real ingredients in our diet plays a big role is because my daughter is allergic to disodium phosphate and chemically-derived nitrates. For this reason, I don’t buy things that have orange powdered cheese or processed cheese (those triangular chips, orange puffs, blue box mac and cheese, fake block cheese—it seems to be everywhere!) or processed meats cured with chemical nitrates.
If I’m purchasing a “boxed” anything, the product can’t have artificial flavors, synthetic preservatives, or GMO ingredients (the final one is by choice). I thoroughly scan each label before they go in my grocery cart, a quick process that can save me a trip to the emergency room.
As a full-time working mom who often travels, I also have a few items in my pantry that dad can whip up quickly, insert in their lunch, or pull out of the freezer for lunch or dinner.
This soup is a delicious and hearty dinner for the family but also perfect for a school lunch. Last month, I had 368 moms in my recipe-testers group perfect the recipe so your kids could enjoy it too. Bonus: It’s just $1.24 per thermos! Win-win.