Food for your flask – take your dinner outdoors

Flasks aren’t just for soup and hot drinks – we’ve got two delicious recipes to cook and take with you anywhere.

Gone are the days that flasks were just for coffee or tomato soup. Nowadays you can get them in a variety of shapes and sizes and food flasks are becoming more and more popular.

They aren’t just for taking leftovers to work, but are great for enjoying fresh cooked hot meals out on a walk or at a beauty spot. If you fancy giving it a go we’ve got two delicious recipes for you to try from Cumbrian outdoor cook Harrison Ward, the Fell Foodie.

A close up of someone putting a spoon into a thermos pot containing a freshly made shepherd's pie, on a wooden worktopCredit: Fell Foodie
Get stuck in! Food can be enjoyed from a flask indoors or out.

Why food flasks are the new big thing

Eating out was never so tasty!

Many of us have a drinks flask in our cupboard to take out on a chilly walk or day trip, but food flasks are becoming more popular – and for good reason.

With a wider mouth and slightly shorter design, these insulated containers are ideal for a whole host of hot and cold food. Think hot stews and pasta or cool salads and puddings.

Ward, author of al fresco recipe book Cook Out, says they are catching on in the UK, but we are still lagging behind our European cousins.

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“These are the most popular types of flask in Scandinavia,” he says. “They can’t understand why we aren’t using them more. They are great to take on a walk, in the car or to work.”

He suggests cooking specially for your flask or reheating leftovers until they are piping hot and then putting into a warmed flask.

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Cook Out

RRP: £25 (Amazon – £14)

Cook Out

Shepherd’s pie

Classic hot comfort food for your flask

Allergens: contains milk, sulphites, meat
Serves: 4

Ward says: “There is little that says comfort food more than a Shepherds Pie but I don’t think many would imagine eating one in the pastures where the main ingredient developed.

“Layering this in stages into a Primus Preppen Vacuum Jug makes this warming dish portable whether on a long journey, exploring the outdoors or on a lunch break.”

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Primus Preppen Vacuum Jug

RRP: £29.99

Primus Preppen Vacuum Jug

Ingredients

  • 350g lamb mince
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 tbsp mint sauce
  • fresh rosemary
  • 1 tblsp tomato puree
  • 5 medium potatoes (around 1kg)
  • 80-100ml milk
  • 20g butter
  • splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 lamb stock pot
  • 50g grated cheddar cheese
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 180˚C. Dissolve your stock cube according to the packet instructions and set aside in a jug.
  • Add the lamb mince to a pan on a medium/high heat, season with salt and pepper and allow to brown. Stir and break apart on occasion but leave alone to get that desired colour. Remove from the pan once cooked and set aside.
  • Finely dice your onion, carrots and celery and add to the now empty pan with a bit of oil if necessary. Cook until softened.
  • Add the tomato puree to the mix and cook through for a couple of minutes.
  • Return the lamb mince to the pan and combine with the cooked base. Add your mint sauce and pour in some of your lamb stock, enough to loosen the mix (I used vegetable stock in the video as I’d picked up the wrong stock cube but lamb would be much more flavourful).
  • Bring to a simmer and add a splash of Worcestershire sauce to the mix. At this point you could add a dash of corn flour slurry or gravy powder if the mixtures is a bit liquid.
  • Transfer the mix to a casserole dish and nessle some rosemary into the mix. Cover with tin foil and bake for 25-30 minutes. Traditionally you’d top with mash at this stage but it will be messy when transferring to the food flask so we will do it in stages. You could make the pie first and enjoy the leftovers in your food flask though.
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  • Whilst in the oven, begin to make the mash potatoes. Peel and chop the potatoes into medium chunks and add to boiling, salted water for around 12 minutes or until softened. Drain and add butter and milk to the empty pan. Bring up to just under a simmer and then add your drained potatoes into the liquid and mash together.
  • Remove the lamb mince from the oven and transfer spoonfuls to a Primus Preppen Vacuum Jug, making sure to leave adequate room to top with mash potato. Spoon on the potato and smooth with a fork. For an added, non traditional extra, sprinkle over some grated cheese and use a blowtorch and melt.
  • Screw on the lid of the flask and enjoy a Shepherds Pie on the go in a place of your choosing.

Sweet potato tagine

North African spiced and sweet vegan stew

Allergens: contains sulphites
Serves: 4

Ward says: “I’m afraid the weather is unlikely to accompany this recipe in the UK but if you close your eyes when tucking into this tagine perhaps you can imagine some Morrocan or Middle Eastern heat (those Ras El Hanout spices will help).

With wonderful sweetness from the dried fruit, sharpness from the lemons and aromatics from the rose harissa, this is a recipe that will get the tastebuds going no matter if you haven’t travelled far beforehand.”

Ingredients

  • 300g drained chickpeas
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1/4 swede
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 white onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 preserved lemons
  • dried apricots, dates
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp ras el hanout
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp rose harissa paste
  • 1 red chilli
  • fresh parsley
  • veg stock cube
  • salt
  • pepper

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 180˚C.
  • Thinly slice the onion and finely dice the garlic. Add the onion to a pan on a medium heat with some oil. Cook and allow to soften for 3-5 minutes.
  • Add your spices (ras el hanout, coriander, turmeric) to the onions and combine and cook out. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for a few minutes.
  • Peel and chop the sweet potato, swede & carrot into small to medium sized chunks and add the now spiced onion & garlic mix. Combine and cook for a few minutes before adding around 100ml of veg stock and cooking with a lid on so the root vegetables soften easier.
  • Whilst this is cooking, roughly chop the preserved lemons, apricots and dates (may need to pit the dates first dependant on which ones you buy). Add to the pan, adding some more vegetable stock if required.
  • Add your chopped tomatoes, chickpeas and a generous spoonful of rose harissa paste (less if you don’t like too much heat). Combine everything, bring to a simmer and then transfer to a casserole dish and cover with tin foil.
  • Bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes to reduce slightly and intensify those flavours. Remove from the oven, finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon and more seasoning if required.
  • Spoon into the Primus Preppen Vacuum Jug and garnish with torn fresh parsley and finely sliced red chilli. Screw the lid on and enjoy a piping hot tagine within the next 6-8 hours.

Cook Out

Ward’s book contains 80 al fresco recipes. Dishes include American-style pancakes, Tuscan bean stew, chickpea curry and apple fritters.

Cook Out, published by Vertebrate £14

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Phillipa Cherryson

Written by Phillipa Cherryson she/her

Published:

Phillipa Cherryson is a senior digital editor for Saga Exceptional. Phillipa has been a journalist for 30 years, writing for local and national newspapers, UK magazines and reporting onscreen for ITV. In her spare time she loves the outdoors and is a trainee mountain leader and Ordnance Survey Champion.

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