Whether you’re hosting a dinner or are out on a road trip, keeping the food warm is a task you’ll have to deal with. Since most dishes taste better and are void of bacteria when served warm, it is smart to know a few ways of keeping them warm without electricity.
If you don’t know how to keep food warm when there’s no microwave to the rescue, you’re at the right place. We have listed some easy and effective ways to help you keep food warm and serve fresh meals without relying on an electronic appliance.
So, let’s get straight to the point and learn a few ways to keep your yummy food warm and fresh!
1. Insulation Boxes For Keeping Lunches and Tiffins Warm
Whether you take lunch to work or send your kid to school with homemade food, keeping an insulation box handy is your best bid. These insulation boxes or bags have extra padding to trap the heat and keep your food warm for longer.
Since most tiffins and lunch boxes already have some insulation, transfer your freshly cooked or heated food to one of these airtight boxes first. Steel lunch boxes with airtight lids are best for taking lunch to school or work.
Once your food is packed, move the box to an insulation bag, and off you go. If the food is properly packed and your insulation bag is of high quality, it can keep your food warm for a minimum of 4-5 hours.
These insulation bags are best for foods that don’t require reheating but you like to eat them warm. For example, if you take rice balls or sandwiches for lunch, they’ll stay warm enough till you need them. But with foods like pasta and noodles, you’ll need a quick reheating session even when using an insulation box.
2. Aluminum Foil & Towels For Shorter Durations
If you make family members’ breakfast or lunch before heading out for work, using aluminum foil and a towel will suffice here. These two insulation surfaces will ensure additional heat doesn’t escape your food, and it tastes fresh even after 2-3 hours of cooking.
Here’s how you can use aluminum foil and towels to keep food warm:
- First, put the food in an airtight container or hotpot right after preparing it so the steam cannot escape. Cap these boxes and prepare an aluminum wrap.
- If you have thick aluminum foil, wrap its single layer around your food container; make sure it covers all sides of the container. But if the foil is thin, you can fold it to provide the food with better insulation.
- After wrapping the container with aluminum foil, top it with a towel or two to keep the food warm for longer.
- Aluminum and cotton collectively make a good insulation layer for your food. Rest assured, the food will be deliciously warm for 2-3 years if you follow this method.
Fried eggs, toasts, and pancakes will stay warm with this quick insulation hack. So, no more serving the little ones or elderlies a cold breakfast even when you’re short on time.
3. Coolers For Travelling
Using a cooler to keep the food warm might sound strange, but it’s one of the easiest hacks you can try to enjoy a fresh bite on the way. Since water coolers have thick insulation layers to trap temperature, they are equally good at keeping food warm.
Your on-the-way food is sorted if you have an easy-to-carry and thickly insulated cooler. Any good-quality cooler can keep food warm for 4-5 hours without much cushioning. And if you play a little smarter, you can prolong this duration up to 8 hours.
Here’s how you can use a cooler to retain your food’s heat:
- Firstly, start with preheating your color to increase its capacity. Fill the cooler with warm water for 30-60 minutes so that its insulation layers can absorb as much heat as possible before you put food in it.
- After 60 minutes, drain warm water and stuff in your food containers to keep them warm. Since the cooler was warm even before you put the food in it, it will maintain this setting longer than usual.
- Also, if you’re on a long road trip and don’t want the snacks and food to get cold, line your cooler with thick aluminum foil before putting it in the food boxes.
- This additional heat-trapping layer will improve your cooler’s performance and keep your travel snacks fresh. If you use insulated food containers, that’s even better because now the heat doesn’t have any escape.
One tip to remember while preheating a cooler is never to use boiling water for this purpose. Extra hot water can damage the cooler’s interiors and prove counterproductive. Use warm water for 60 minutes and wipe the cooler’s interiors before stuffing it in the food boxes.
So, the next time you’re on a road trip, take your cooler along and enjoy a warm meal without pulling over!
4. Thermoses For Smaller Food Servings
Thermoses and tea flasks have thick insulation layers to retain a drink’s temperature without impacting its consistency. But can you use a thermos to keep food warm? Sure, you can.
Thermoses and tea flasks are ideal for keeping small food servings warm to accompany you during the day. If you wish to keep soup, curry, or stew warm to enjoy during the lunch break, your thermos will have your back.
Put your reheated or freshly cooked food in a thermos and tightly close its lid to ensure the heat doesn’t escape. If you follow this tip, your food will be freshly warm for 5-6 hours without losing its taste.
Also, if your thermos is designed to adjust small insulated food containers, it makes the perfect option for you to carry around. Put your desired food servings in these small bowls, stack them inside the thermos, and you’re good to go.
Since thermoses have dual insulation walls to trap heat and steam, they’re ideal for keeping lunchtime snacks fresh and warm. If you cannot carry a bigger insulated tiffin or lunchbox in the bag, investing in a thoroughly insulated and thick-walled thermos is good.
5. Chafing Dishes For Dinners And Parties
Here comes a more sophisticated way of keeping food warm for bigger gatherings where the host doesn’t have time to reheat endless food servings. Sure, getting chafing dishes is a big investment; it’s worth it. You save time and effort while attending to guests and refilling food pots.
Follow these steps to keep food warm with chafing dishes:
- Start with the obvious, and get chafing dishes depending upon your catering requirements. These dishes are equally suitable for indoor and outdoor settings.
- Once the chafing dishes are set up, fill their lower parts with water and light the chafing fuel to warm it up.
- Once the water is warm, put the stainless steel food container in it and let it be. Extinguish the chafing fuel once the water starts to boil, and you’re good.
- Since there are two stainless steel pots, one filled with warm water and one with warm food, they’ll retain the heat for 3-4 hours.
However, remember that using chafing dishes to keep food warm on a regular basis is not a good idea because of the extra hassle you have to put in.
6. Thermal Cookers When Everyone Has A Different Eating Time
Apart from outings and packed lunches, you must keep the food warm for a long time when everyone in the home has different eating times. When dinner is ready around 8 and family members come home late or prefer grabbing a late-night bite, thermal cookers come to the rescue.
Thermal cookers’ impressive heat-retention capacity makes them ideal for daily cooking and multiple other kitchen tasks. So if you have one, you’re already sorted at this front.
Leave the food in your thermal cooker and close its lid to retain the heat when you’re done cooking. Thermal cookers have thick metal bottoms and insulated walls that don’t let excess steam and heat escape from your food.
You can also keep a thermal cooker on the stove for a few minutes with its lid closed to ensure the food stays warm for longer. But be careful of the steam. If your food ingredients get soggy because of too much steam and moisture, you might not like their taste and consistency.
7. Hot Bricks And Water Bottles For Camping
Using hot bricks or hot water bottles is the easiest way of keeping food warm without electricity. When you’re taking meals and snacks to a remote site where there will be no source of reheating, hot bricks will come in handy.
If your food goes in a thoroughly insulated cooler that is also heat-resistant, line its bottom and interiors with hot bricks or water bottles first. Next, place your (preferably) stainless steel food containers above these bricks and close the cooler’s lid.
This little hack can keep your food warm for 6 hours, which is suitable for adventures and road trips. But since hot bricks or water bottles will lose their heat with time, you won’t have a way to reheat them on the way.
So, this is not always a practical solution. If you struggle with this problem, wrap the food containers with aluminum foil and towels as we suggested in the second method to contain the heat for longer.
8. Trapping The Steam For Serving Fresh Food
Don’t let your food stay on the stove without a lid if you wish to keep it warm for hours. When heat and moisture escape the cooking pot, the food cannot stay warm and requires extra reheating effort. Once you’re done cooking and mixing all ingredients, close your cooking pot’s lid and let it stay on the stove for 2-3 minutes for a final temperature top-up.
Turn off the stove knob and relax because now your food is likely to stay warm for 1-2 hours, especially if it’s cooked in bulk. Whether you use a thermal cooker or a regular stainless steel cooking pot, trapping the food heat is always a good idea.
9. Hotpots While Eating Out In The Balcony Or Patio
If you like to eat and serve hot food, invest in a restaurant-style hotpot for your home. These hotpots get heat from a small stove built under them (similar to the chafing dishes) that can keep food warm for several hours.
Since hotpots’ stoves are quite good, you can mix ingredients and present hot food servings right out of the pot. If you’re a fan of Asian cuisine, a hotpot will be your best friend for family dinners and gatherings.
A hotpot reduces serving effort since everyone takes food out of the bowl and keeps food freshly warm throughout the dinner. You’ll need a reliable heating source for it, though. Hotpots are already pretty hit in outdoor settings like bonfires and BBQ dinners.
Keeping a delicious meal warm until everyone eats is a task the cook must manage. Whether you have to reheat food multiple times every day or it feels difficult when you’re out on a trip, learning multiple ways to do this task is wise.
If you have insulated food containers, storage boxes, and a water cooler, there is no need to worry about keeping food warm for several hours. Thermoses, thermal cookers, chafing dishes, and hotpots are some other tools to help you on this front.
The method you select to keep food warm without electricity depends upon your budget and requirements. If you can spend on a new chafing dish or hotpot, go for it. But if you need a way to keep food warm for lunch at work or during traveling, good-quality coolers and thermoses are the answer. Keep aluminum foil and some thick towels handy to use as make-shift insulation layers. Follow any of these methods and enjoy a warm meal no matter where you are; we wish you luck!