If you’re looking for the best way to pack pasta for school lunches, you’ve found it! In this post, I’ll share step-by-step directions and helpful tips to keep any pasta dish tasting great and hot (or cold) for hours!
We’re talking spaghetti & meatballs, mac and cheese, creamy alfredo, and your favorite pasta salads!
How to Pack Hot Pasta for Lunch
Here’s the part where you learn how to pack those yummy pasta recipes for an epic hot lunch!
- Place a serving of pasta (and sauce) in a microwave-safe dish and stir in 2 tablespoons of water.
- Cover the dish with plastic wrap.
- Microwave for 2 minutes or until the pasta is HOT; you should not be able to eat it.
- Carefully remove the plastic wrap and transfer the pasta to your warmed thermos container.
- Pack the sealed thermos in a lunch bag with additional snacks and sides.
Recipes with meat, like spaghetti and meatballs, will need to be microwaved for an additional minute, so all the ingredients are properly heated through.
Check out this quick video for the best way to warm your thermos:
Things to Avoid When Packing Hot Pasta for Lunch
Don’t skip adding water.
It helps reconstitute the sauce and prevents the pasta from drying out in the microwave.
Why use plastic wrap???
This helps create a barrier so the pasta will “steam” instead of dry out while reheating. Plus, it prevents splatters in the microwave.
Need a thermos container to pack hot lunches? Check out my favorite options here.
How to Pack Cold Pasta for Lunch
Cold pasta, like pasta salad, is a little easier to work with since you can pack it into a chilled thermos or regular lunch container. Make sure to include an ice pack in the lunch bag, so the pasta stays chilled.
Things to Avoid When Packing Cold Pasta
Don’t pack plain, cold pasta.
If your pasta is plain, I recommend warming it in the microwave for 1 minute using the method above before tossing it with sauce or dressing. Otherwise, it will stick together in one big clump.
Don’t skip the ice pack.
If you’re packing the pasta in a non-insulated lunch container, an ice pack will help keep it chilled until lunchtime.
Should You Freeze Pasta for Packed Lunches
You can freeze pasta leftovers and reuse them as lunches by thawing the individual portions and reheating them in the microwave, but I find this is a lot of extra work.
If you have 2-3 servings of pasta leftover from dinner, they’ll last up to 3 days in the fridge. That’s plenty of time to repurpose it into lunch; no freezing is needed.
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101 Packed Lunches eBook
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My son’s complaint with pasta is that it has that steamed and continued cooking while it sits in the thermos and it is overcooked and it sits in the sauce and has that canned pasta kind of texture after so many hours sitting in the sauce. I have tried a number of ways to get around this such as undercooking the pasta and making sure not to put too much sauce in but I still am not getting around the sauce ending up just not right. If the pasta was plain it seems fine but not with the sauce. Even with our leftovers I keep the sauce and the pasta separate until we eat, except lasagna which somehow works. I guess that is my best option to send lasagna.
When I have a pasta or rice I want to save I portion it out by packing into measuring cups (1/2 cup or 1/4 cup depending on the child) then laying it out onto a lined cookie sheet like you would a batch of cookies. Put it into the freezer. Once it is frozen, transfer into a labeled large ziplock freezer bag. The portions freeze individually and you can skip and save the little bags. This works awesome for ziti, Mac and cheese, rice and chicken etc. Also if it is a lasagna or pasta that can be cut into squares once cooled, I just lay the squares out on the cookie sheet, freeze and voila! A bag of individual servings:)
Alison @ Ingredients, Inc
love this girl!
thank you Alison!