Having lunch at work can be a daily challenge. Going out to lunch or ordering takeout every day can get very expensive, not to mention bad for your health, so many people opt to bring their own lunches from home. There may be an office kitchen, or simply a break room, or in some cases, the employer may not provide a place to store lunches and employees may end up keeping their lunches at their desks.
Often, cold lunches are easier to prepare and store depending on the particular workplace setup. Many people resign themselves to eating cold lunches five days a week, often with the same things for lunch every day. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Electric heated lunch boxes make it possible to have hot lunches at work. What’s more, they also have several unexpected benefits beyond the office.
What is an electric heated lunch box?
Electric heated lunch boxes are usually made of plastic, and come with a carrying handle for easy transportation, similar to a picnic cooler. They feature insulation and a heating element to warm up food and keep it at a good temperature. Heated lunchboxes are typically powered by standard outlet plugs, but some also come are also for 12 volts and can be plugged into car outlets.
Electric lunch boxes range in size from small, shallow single-serving containers to larger rounded lunchboxes that resemble crock pots. Many of these handy lunch containers also include silverware and removable serving trays with dividers that can be used as plates.
Electric lunchbox versus insulated lunch box
Electric heated lunchboxes, which are sometimes referred to as “smart” lunch boxes, offer a great and inexpensive alternative to the typical lunch at work. These types of lunch boxes have several advantages over regular insulated models, which can keep food hot or cold for certain periods of time but often fall short of maintaining the right temperatures.
With an insulated lunch box, hot foods are usually lukewarm, or even clammy, by the time you’re ready to eat lunch. Hot sandwiches become soggy, hot soups are simply room temperature, and leftovers are often clumpy or stiff.
Using an electric lunch box means you’re able to actually apply heat to the food, rather than just sealing in the existing heat that becomes gradually lost no matter how good the insulation. With a heated lunchbox, you can enjoy piping hot lunches that are evenly heated and maintain a good consistency – the food is takeout quality without costing as much as restaurant orders. The low heat application also prevents food from “sweating” as the heat condenses, which can often happen with insulated lunch boxes.
Benefits: Saves time and money
Of course, having an electric heated lunchbox saves a significant amount of money for hot lunches over takeout food or restaurant lunches. A typical takeout lunch costs around ten dollars, which adds up quickly throughout the week. Hot lunches from home usually cost no more than five dollars and are often significantly less. What’s more, home packed lunches are more nutritious than takeout.
Using a heated lunchbox at work also saves time. There is no waiting to use the office microwave when everyone else is trying to heat up lunch at the same time. Electric heated lunch boxes can be plugged in at your desk and will have your lunch heated and ready for your lunch break.
Gives you more food choices
When it comes to cold lunches, unfortunately there are not many choices that will keep well at work. Eating cold sandwiches for lunch every day can be tedious and certainly gets old quickly.
With an electric lunchbox, you can enjoy a much wider lunch menu variety. Hot lunch boxes make it possible to bring more types of food to work without having to rely on the usual standbys, which makes lunch time a more enjoyable experience and something to look forward to every day.
Easy and convenient to use
Electric heated lunchboxes simply plug into a wall outlet or car adapter, and can heat lunch to a comfortable eating temperature typically within 30 minutes or less. Since most heated lunch boxes use a very low voltage, overheating or burning food is not usually a problem. The food remains at the correct temperature until you’re ready to eat.
What can you make with an heated lunch box?
An electric heated lunchbox can be used to prepare a wide range of meals. Of course, they are great for heating up leftovers, which provides an additional benefit by helping to ensure that leftover food actually gets used rather than sitting in the home refrigerator until it’s spoiled.
Frozen prepared foods such as burritos, hot sandwiches and vegetables are also great choices to use with a heated lunch box. When heating lunch food from a frozen state, the electric lunchbox may require more heating time to reach optimal temperatures. Be sure to check the instructions for best cooking times.
Some models include a built-in steamer which allows you to add water and warm up things like rice dishes or stir fry, pasta dishes, potato dishes, and more. Both crock pot and divided tray style electric lunch boxes are perfect for heating soups and stews, casseroles, and other combined dishes.
Even more options that can be cooked thoroughly include hot dogs, pre-cooked sausage links, plain rice, pizza slices, grilled sandwiches, baked beans, canned meals such as chili or spaghetti rings, and much more.
Keep in mind that because electric heated lunchboxes use very low temperatures, they should not be used for food that requires substantial cooking times for food safety reasons, such as raw meat or seafood.
Other uses for electric heated lunchboxes
While electric heated lunch boxes are great for the office to enjoy a variety of hot lunches throughout the week, they also have several alternate uses. With a car plug adapter, these appliances can be used in a vehicle to heat baby bottles, baby food jars, or to gently warm wet wipes for on-the-go parents.
They are also useful on long drives or business trips, when you may have to plan on stopping for a meal. Instead of going to a restaurant or getting fast food, you can purchase cheaper, healthier food at a grocery store and allow it to cook while you drive.
Heated lunch boxes are also a great tool to have along on family trips or camping trips. Some models can be used to heat enough food for three to five people, which is a great alternative when you need to prepare a quick and convenient meal without using a lot of dishes or fussing with a camp stove.
Finally, they can be great party accessories to keep side dishes such as vegetables, cheese dips, and hot appetizers at the perfect temperature throughout the length of the party. They can also be refilled easily and will reheat food items quickly, so guests don’t have to wait for hot food.
Where can you get electric lunch boxes?
As people continue to look for more affordable, health-conscious and convenient ways to bring lunch to work, electric heated lunchboxes have become more widely available. You can find several types and models in many large retail stores, in the kitchen and housewares section.
Many online retailers such as Amazon and eBay also offer a selection for sale. You can compare features, sizes, prices, and customer reviews for various models online to help you choose the best heated lunchbox for your personal use, depending on what type of hot lunches you’d like to enjoy.
Electric heated lunch boxes provide many benefits and advantages over the traditional brown-bag lunch, and also help to save money on lunch costs while providing better nutritional value and a wider lunch menu variety. The food quality is also better than hot lunches from insulated lunch bags. You can now enjoy the convenience of cooking lunch right at your desk or on your way to work, without having to worry about finding space in the office fridge or fighting for microwave time. It’s the best of all lunch worlds!