Back2School: Putting lunch containers to the test

HOUSTON – PB & J, ham sandwiches, cheese and crackers, are all go-to school lunches, but sometimes you just want to pack your child a hot lunch. 

How do you know if the mac and cheese or chili will still be warm by the time your child eats it? Consumer expert Amy Davis put three food containers to the test. 

She tested this RTIC insulated food container that sells for $14.99. The label says it can keep food warm for six hours. Davis also tested the 12-ounce stainless steel Thermos food jar for $19.99 and the 12-ounce U Konserve food jar she bought for $17.95.

No matter which insulated food container you use, filling it with boiling water and closing it up 30 minutes before you pack it with food will help it hold the heat. She did that with all three food containers before she added piping hot pasta noodles with spaghetti sauce. She took the temperature of the food in each container before she closed it up.  

After four and a half hours, she opened each container and took the temperature inside again. None of the containers held the food at 100 degrees, but the food in the RTIC was the warmest. The U Konseve food jar held the temperature second best. The food in the Thermos container was the least warm. 

Davis reheated the pasta and tried the same test, measuring the temperatures after two hours in the food containers. The food wasn't much warmer than it was after sitting for four hours, but the best performing jars remained the same, and in the same order. 

The results showed that the least expensive food container, the RTIC, did the best job of keeping the food warm.