Sometimes the kids want a sandwich with lunchmeat that needs to remain cold until eaten, and sometimes my kids want to take hot soup or chili to school and that meal should remain hot until lunchtime. So as a Mom you do your research and look for products that will keep foods at the proper safe temperature…. but how do you REALLY know that they products work as they claim to do?
Well you TEST them, of course!
And to be honest, it wasn't until this Beyond Bologna challenge forced me to put some serious thought into making-over my kids lunches to be healthier AND tastier that I decided to conduct a few at-home experiments to see whether or not my kids lunches stayed as hot or as cold as “advertised”.
Keeping Hot Foods Hot
I had invested in a few basic thermoses in the past…. and I followed the recommended method of putting boiling water in the thermos first to “heat it up” for 5 minutes, then dumping out the water before adding the piping hot food to the thermos. And when I asked my kids whether or not their soups were still hot at lunchtime, they always told me that they were “pretty warm”. Hmmm…..
So this year I decided to invest in a double walled thermos that claimed to keep food hot for 7-10 hours! I tried several tests- making soup at 7am and then opening the thermos at 1pm to see how hot the soup was… and when I compared our old thermos to the new thermos- the results were pretty dramatic. This new thermos (Thermos Element 5 16-Ounce Leak-Proof Food Jar) kept the soups piping hot- to the point where my daughter had to allow it to cool with the lid off before enjoying her soup. Success!
In a second test, I tried re-heating leftover steak and putting it in the pre-heated thermos. But 6 hours later, it was only lukewarm. My husband and I decided that since the steak didn't fill the entire thermos the way soup does, it is harder to maintain the hot temperature. I wonder if I filled the bottom of the jar with foil (to take up the empty space) before adding the steak would help? It sounds as if another test is in order….
Keeping Cold Foods Cold
This year I purchased Packit lunch bags for three of my kids. These lunch bags are insulated and contain gel packs in the walls of the bag. You put them in the freezer overnight before packing your cold lunch in them. I packed a ham and cheese wrap at 7am, and then placed it in the pre-chilled Packit lunch bag, and left it on my kitchen counter until 1pm. When I opened the container 6 hours later, that sandwich was as cold as if I had kept it in the fridge! I am quite impressed!
This week's recipe…. Mini Honey Cornbread Muffins!
All of this testing of hot soups made me think about the cooler months that are approaching, and I got to dreaming about my favorite homemade chili recipe. But what I needed to accompany this chili was a delicious corn bread muffin- the two would make a perfect school lunch! So I was pretty excited when I came across this recipe from A Farm Girl Dabbles for honey cornbread muffins!
I made the recipe a little more lunchbox friendly by baking them in mini-muffin pans (isn't everything cuter in mini-sizes?), baking them for only 12 minutes. They are delicious- and my kids devoured them!
And don't forget to tuck in a little love!
And remember to head on over to Little Lunch Notes to print off this adorable note for your kids’ lunch boxes! My kids love these!
Please check out the rest of our “Beyond Bologna” posts….
So what’s your best tip for keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold? Please leave us a comment and share!