Feeding Your Kids: Do Insulated Lunch Bags Keep Food Warm?
There's no question that children are amongst some of the pickiest eaters, especially when they're in their younger years.
It might feel like a headache at the time because they have no qualms about telling you, but as a parent, you likely want to give your kid what they want.
So, what do you do if they say that they don't want cold lunches at school and there's no microwave available? Do insulated lunch bags keep food warm enough to satisfy your little one? Do you need to invest in a thermos and feed them nothing but soup?
We've gathered a few tips and tricks to help you keep your kid's happy with warm meals.
Food Keeper Options
When cooking a hot meal for your kid's lunch, the first thing you want to do is ensure that it's something that can be eaten while cold, too. The last thing you want is for your kid to get sick because of eating something that should be hot when it's too cold. Once you've made that decision, it's time to prepare.
There are plenty of thermos options available on the market so that you can keep your kid’s food warm until it’s time to eat. Food such as soups, pasta, and stews can be added to the thermos to give them a warm lunch.
If you go with this option, remember to preheat the thermos with boiling water for ten minutes, as it helps keep it warm until lunchtime. Once you’ve heated up the food, you can add it to the thermos and seal it tight, so no heat escapes.
Insulated Lunch Bags
Over the years, insulated lunch bags have become increasingly popular, and some even include gel packs that can be heated at the base. Many also include dividers for hot and cold food. If you choose to go with an insulated lunch bag, you still need to prepare the food to the recommended temperature adequately, and then reheat it before packing.
Whatever food you choose, wrap it in aluminum foil after it’s been cooked to seal in the warmth. You can add an additional layer of insulation by wrapping it in a tea towel, napkins, or paper towel.
All About Insulated Lunch Bags
Whether you’ve been packing lunches for years or you’re new to the concept, you’ve undoubtedly asked the infamous “Do insulated lunch bags keep food warm?” question, and the answer is "Yes." Plastic or metal lunch boxes don’t provide the proper amount of insulation to keep food hot or cold, and plastic and brown bags are even worse. Unless you or your kid will eat the food right away, you need an insulated lunch bag to retain the heat long enough, so it’s still warm three to five hours later.
Layers are incorporated in insulated lunch bags, and they’re the key to everything. Typically, each bag has an outer layer, an inner layer, and then a layer of insulation between the two.
You can purchase the lunch bags in a variety of materials such as vinyl and plastic, but it’s the middle insulation layer that’s the essential part and is usually made out of a type of foam. On the other hand, inner layers are traditionally waterproof and made from foil, plastic, or vinyl.
While the primary purpose of an insulated lunch bag is to keep your prepared food hot or cold, it’s still recommended that you use a gel pack to help the process. Some lunch bags come with them, but if it doesn’t, they are affordable and easy to use.
Heated gel packs have a flexible gel inside of their plastic pouch and can be heated in the microwave. They are built to hold temperatures, so it helps keep the food inside warm.
- Make the food too hot to eat since the extra heat helps with keeping the food warm during the hours between preparation and consumption.
- Do not open the thermos once it’s been sealed because that will allow the heat to escape.
- Wrap a tea towel around the thermos to add additional insulation. This also helps with separating hot containers and cold food such as juice boxes and fruit cups.
- Add a heated gel pack or bottle to the insulated lunch bag to add extra warmth.
- Always ensure hot and cold food are kept separated to the best of your ability.
- Make sure that perishable food gets prepared at their recommended temperature.
- Test out your insulated lunch bag by preparing your own lunch and seeing how long it remains warm.
Using insulated lunch bags to keep food warm is the most recommended way of doing so, but you should always take additional steps to ensure that the food stays as hot as it can and for as long as it can. You can use all the information provided here to help you keep your and your kid’s lunches warm and edible. Happy eating!