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Some Like It Hot!

10.08.13 Some Like It Hot!

insulated food containers

More often than not, I get the sweet request for a packed thermos filled with leftovers from last night's dinner (when I'm packing school lunches). I understand this. It's comforting to have some warm food for lunch, especially during the cold months. Come fall, I crave soup for lunch and all of the autumn flavors that are naturally simmered in.

And kids? According to a seasoned 10 yr old who routinely brings a packed lunch, "Some dishes need to be warm in order to taste good. Pasta, rice, chili, udon noodle soup, black bean burritos - they have to be warm. It makes me look forward to lunch even more."

How long is it safe to eat? It depends on the container and how you heat up the food. 

  • Bacteria grows quicker between 40-140 degrees F. Perishable foods should not stay at that temperature range longer than 3 hours.
  • Food packed inside any lunch container should be cooked throughly at a safe temperature (foods to be handled with care: raw or cooked meat, fish and poultry, sandwiches containing meat, fish and poutry, cooked vegetables, cooked cereals and legumes (like rice and beans), milk and milk products (except hard cheese and yogurt), shellfish and processed meats).
  • Soups, pastas, and any other hot foods should be heated on a stove to a boiling point (212F) and microwaved piping hot prior to packing.
  • It is advised to preheat the thermos before filling: For maximum thermal efficiency, fill with boiling water, attach lid and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Empty the water and fill with piping hot food.

One issue to keep in mind: most parents prepare foods as hot as they would normally serve when sitting down for a meal. The thing is, these foods should be heated so that it can be safely eaten 3-5 hours later when kids are scheduled to have lunch at school. When you heat food like this the lunch will be cold, regardless of the container you use.

At MightyNest, we have a selection of safe and durable insulated food containers that are easy for kids to use and easy for parents to clean. All of these containers are made of 18/8 stainless steel which means that they will not rust like other models that are made with lower grade stainless steel. And most importantly, they are also BPA, PVC, Phthalate and Lead Free.

Thermos Funtainer Food Container: This thermos is terrific for younger kids - with a 10 oz capacity, compact size for convenient fitting in smaller lunchboxes and lightweight for smaller hands. The opening is also easy to maneuver with utensils with a straight-walled design and the lid opens and closes smoothly with a leakproof design. Available in 4 colors.

Foogo Insulated Food Jar: Also 10 ounces, the Foogo insulated food jar is a multi-purpose food jar. Made with slip and scratch-resistant base, this thermos won't slide around on the cafeteria table. The Foogo container comes in pink and blue but also with designs called Tripoli and Poppy Patch.

Kids Konserve Stainless Steel Thermos: This next-size-up food jar is 12 oz. and fits perfectly into most lunchboxes. The design is taller and slimmer, like a cup - infact you could drink out of these. Hand washing is recommended for this stainless steel thermos.

Hydro Flask Food Jar: Another 12 ounce sized container, this food jar is a new addition to Mightynest. Able to maintain temperature of hot foods for up to 3 hours and available in a larger 17 oz. size and the color bluel. This thermos has a matte finish on the outside and hand washing is recommended. 

Klean Kanteen Insulated Food Canisters: Another new product, the Klean Kanteen canister is available in both single wall (non-insulated) and double wall (insulated) 18/8 stainless steel. They're also light, sustainably made and 100% stainless steel and almost plastic free with the exception of a small seal inside the lid. Available in both 8 oz and 16 oz sizes.

Lunchbots Thermal Food Container: A very popular thermal container, this one is different in shape - wide and squat, this 16 oz. container is better suited for older kids (in addition to the larger size, the lid requires a larger hand to open too). The bowl-like shape does make for easy eating, and finding your favorite bites of lunch! Available in 4 colors and dishwasher safe.

Thermos King Food Jar w/Spoon: Another 16 oz sized food jar, this one comes with a handy stainless steel spoon that folds and can be stored while snapped in to the lid. This timeless classic is perfect for an older kid who will need a larger hot lunch packed and will be able to maneuver the folding stainless steel spoon inside. Eat right out of the container or pour small amounts into the lid.

Some extra tips:

  • Avoid over-filling thermos! Hot liquids can scald..
  • Maybe too obvious, but just in case...Not for use in the microwave, ever.
  • Avoid abrasive cleaners or anything with chlorine when cleaning. 
  • Insulated containers are generally top-rack dishwasher safe but hand washing is always best.

What warm foods do your kids like packed for school lunch?

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