One of my favourite activities that makes me feel like mom is to make lunch for my son. He has decided not to have the meals prepared by his school. Instead he prefers to take meals prepared at home (YAY!). I usually prepare enough lunches for the week on Sunday and he reheats it at school.
However, I want to remove the reheat at school step. Apparently, there is a fee to do this and on principle I am against it. I can’t image what would give rise to the need to charge students a fee for reheating lunches they’ve brought to school. So, my search for an insulated lunch container has started.
So what am I looking for in an insulated lunch container?
Well, first of all, I need a container that actually holds the heat. I don’t necessarily want the meal to be piping hot, but it shouldn’t be room temperature or cold. I have seen several YouTube videos doing comparison heat tests. A thermometer is used to test the temperature of the food at the time its placed in the container and then a few hours later. The results varied with the contents of some containers being cold despite claims that the food would be hot.
Additionally, as I am intending for a child to use the lunch container, I didnt want one with any overly complicated requirements for use. I just want to put hot/warm food in it, and have it still be that way in about 4 hours. there are some containers on the market that can be plugged in, while others require you add hot water to maintain the heat. These are more self-heating than insulated and thats not what im going for.
This little gem is a food warming tote and comes highly recommended on Amazon. Reviewers claim it will not only warm stuff, but will actually cook it from a raw state. That’s impressive when you consider that you can use any type of container in it and all you have to do is plug it in.
Here is an electric lunch box. The item needs to be plugged in and a bit of water needs to added to the container. It seems to work and even cooks rice.
I like that it has multiple containers but I wouldn’t get it for a child.
Finally, I am thinking about the volume of the lunch container. I need something that will hold a good portion of food. And I definitely do not want a container that is primarily for soups and pastas. I want something that can accommodate a meal with rice or mashed potatoes, etc.
This container from Thermos came up as one of the top search results. Thermos is a well recognised branch for this purpose. There are also lots of design options as the “Funtainer” is the kid friendly product.
I like it for the fun aspect, but it doesn’t seem like it would hold a lot of food. And it seems more geared towards soups and pasta and oatmeal etc.
I came across this bowl, which looked perfect for my purposes. It seemed like it would hold a decent portion of food and also seemed compact enough to go in a lunch bag.
Sadly though reviewers said it doesn’t hold heat well and that there is an inner silicone lid that’s kind of hard to open
A trick I have noticed many use when using insulated containers (hot or cold use), is that the container may need to be prepped a bit. That is, if you add hot or cold water to your container for a few minutes before use, it will maintain the desired temperature for a longer period.
Based on all my reading and research, I think I’m going to try a container from a Japanese manufacturer called Mr Bento. It’s not the cutest of products but it seems to hit my other requirements.
Inside the canister there are 4 containers. That many containers seem like they should be sufficient for lunch and snacks. The containers keep the heat on their own and don’t require any external elements for heating. And if I can trust the reviewers about how well it holds heat, then this checks all the boxes for me.
There are other options which have 2 and 3 containers, just in case 4 doesn’t suit you. I am looking forward to purchasing this and hope it goes as I expect. If it does, I can definitely see myself purchasing more units.
So tell me, have any of you ever used insulated lunch containers? What has been your experience? Do you have any tips and tricks to share?
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