The 'free school meals' thread has made me think about this. Why is it so important to us that we have at least one hot meal a day?
Cold meals can be just as nutritionally balanced, and since they often incorporate salads (and less cooking therefore potentially less oil) one could argue that they're healthier for us.
In the winter a meal won't really warm us up more just because it's hot, will it? By the time it reaches our stomachs it takes very little time for it to cool down to our body temperature. It might give us a nice, cosy feeling to sit over a warm bowl of soup, but what's actually going to warm us up is being well dressed for the weather and/ or in a warm bath/ building. Or doing exercise, or wearing a suit padded with hot water bottles .
So is there something about a hot meal apart from that feeling of cosiness/ sentimentality that makes it more special than a cold one?
I have no idea what the science is but I think hot food in our cold, damp climate in winter is more satisfying - that 'cosiness' you speak of adds to our mental wellbeing and because of that it is in an important part of life.
In the midst of a Scottish winter, I want hot soups, casseroles and stews. I want to feel as if I'm being nurtured and warmed by my food, in the same way that a hot water bottle does. Salad or raw food in January just isn't the same.
Jet - yes, carrots are apparently better for you when cooked - I think it's the Vit A which is more easily absorbed. Same goes for tomatoes...I think it's lycopene which benefits from a bit of heat. Though what on earth lycopene is for...
As far as my DCs are concerned, I think they get more healthy stuff down if it is a hot meal - they will eat large portions of cooked veg, but would never eat the same amount as a salad.
And hot meals at school generally have more variety, and therefore are better nutritionally in the long run, than packed lunches, which are nearly always bread-based. Unfortunately DD still refuses school lunches apart from Friday fish and chips (or some other non-fried potato product which is supposedly healthier...).
if you are going to have meat its going to be cooked so whats the point of cooling and serving it cold?
Sorry but salads in winter just don't cut it
Also I think when we refer to kids getting proper hot meals, we mean instead of them just getting fast food, takeaways or snack food, so perhaps a good square meal is a better description and the temperature is irrelivent.