Do Food Flasks Work? Some Food Flask Meal Ideas

Stanley Food Flask Litre

I have three food flasks at the moment, people often wonder if food flasks work – if they keep food hot and what sort of food to use in them.  I have two Stanley flasks and one “other brand” picked up from a supermarket, which was an Alladin MicroMagic Food Bottle.  Top brand names will last you a lifetime and will perform very well. Thermos is one of the most recognised brand names for flasks. You can see the range of flask shapes, sizes and colours on Amazon UK.

I’ve owned my food flasks all for about 15 years or more!  The Stanley food flask has a built in folding spoon, which I don’t often use as I take my own cutlery.

I originally bought these food flasks to make hot lunches for work as there were few options where I was working.  There was a canteen, but that was expensive and could easily lead to weight gain 🙂  So I bought, at first, a single food flask – and it spread from there, into my current collection of three! I could save £1/day by using my food flask, so saving £200+ per year!  They’ve paid for themselves many times over, with payback coming in just 2-4 weeks.

Most food flasks will keep hot food hot for 4-5 hours.  After that time, there will be variations depending on the specific flask you have and how it’s being used.  Flasks are insulated, which slows down the heat of the food escaping – so it makes sense that there’s a world of difference between heat loss potential if it’s in your office drawer compared to you hiking up a mountain in freezing weather!

I mostly use food flasks to take hot food out in autumn and winter months, most often leaving it in the car, then returning to the car to serve up my hot meal!  I’ll pack one if I’m going to town shopping in winter, or to car boot sales, as well as on long journeys, so I’v always got a hot meal to eat whatever happens, without queuing and paying through the nose!  I’ve also seen many stall holders at craft markets and outdoor markets using food flasks, as they’re quite often far from the burger van!

You don’t have to leave the house to eat thermos flask meals!  

In the winter the kitchen can be cold and dark in the evenings, so I’ll often make myself a hot meal for later while it’s still light and simply keep the thermos flask meal beside me in the living room until later when I want to eat!  This idea would also suit people who are, maybe, “caring” for somebody – as you can make up their meal in a thermos, for them to eat it later when it’s meal-time if you’re not going to be around.

Food Flask Meals: 

In the main, food flask meals are hot/cooked meals, transferred to the food flask where the food will keep hot for several hours until it’s lunchtime.  This fits in quite well with my “microwave meals” way of living as I can produce hot meals in small quantities very easily in minutes, so the two ideas of a microwave cooked meal and thermos flask meals fit well together!

Wet foods work better in food flasks, so soups, chillies and curries.  But one of my favourite flask meals is often to take hot dogs with me if I’m going out in chilly weather!

Eat out of the flask, or pour into a bowl?  You can eat directly from a food flask – they have a wide mouth, so you can dip into them, but, if you wish, you can also use either the lid of the flask as a bowl, or take your own bowl.  How you eat will depend on what you’re eating and where – as well as how you best see it working for you.  At work in the office you might eat from the flask so there’s no washing up, but you might equally pour your meal onto a plate or into a bowl because you can do the washing up!  Every situation is different.

Below are some simple/outline ideas of food flask meals you can quickly make for yourself.

  • Food Flask Hot Dogs: Using jars or tins of hot dogs, heat up the hot dogs as usual (in a microwave or on the stove top/hob).  Drain the hot dogs and put them into the food flask, filling the food flask with boiling water from the kettle.  Take the bread rolls separately, as well as ketchup or mustard.  Note: be aware of your food flask size and the hot dog size – if you’ve bought a tiny food flask and then bought the longest/huge hot dogs you’ll realise you have to cut them in half to fit!
  • Super Noodles and Dried Noodles: If you simply open the packet and the sachet and add those to the flask, then add the boiling water, 4-5 hours later the noodles will still be hot and cooked.  You do have to think, here, about the size of the thermos flask as they do work best when fully filled and, depending on the size of your food flask, one packet of noodles and water might not fill it.  My food flasks are small, so a perfect fit.  ADD: I’d also add in some defrosted frozen peas, or half a can of red kidney beans and half a teaspoon of chilli!
  • Dried Noodles From Scratch: If you don’t wish to buy the packets of dried noodles, you can make your own Thermos Noodle Meals using sheets of dried noodles, some spices and herbs and hot water.  If you buy bags of dried soup base, you can add those too, but cook those until a little soft first to ensure they are soft when you eat your meal later.  Or, you can just “wing it” the first time, to see how they turn out!
  • Spaghetti Bolognese: This works well as a thermos meal – you can either mix the spaghetti and sauce together before putting it into the flask, or keep the layers separate.
  • Macaroni Cheese:  This is a great thermos flask meal, but it works best if the cheese sauce is of the runnier sort, so it doesn’t stick.  Take a bread roll, or portion of chunky bread, with you to serve – and possibly a sachet of brown sauce!
  • Tinned Foods/Ready Meals: If you look along the shelves of supermarkets, you can find ideal food to easily turn into thermos flask meals.  Chunky soups work well, or tins of All Day Breakfast! There are some great curries too.  It’s the same for simple ready meals – buy a simple ready meal, microwave it as per instructions, so it’s super hot, transfer to your food flask and you’re done!  This works well for people who don’t have a microwave oven at work.

More Thermos Flask Meals:

I’ll be tagging up some meals in my blog that would be ideal to make as thermos flask meals, which you can find here Thermos Flask Meals, for ideas!

Note: If you’re using strong flavours, it’s possible that the smell might linger.  I find bicarbonate of soda and a little vinegar poured in and left for awhile, followed by refilling with boiling water and washing with hot soapy water gets rid of any lingering smells.

Saving Money?

If you’re trying to save money, you can even use food flasks in unusual ways – if you’re planning a trip and expect to pick up a bag of chips as a treat on a day out (perhaps at the seaside!), then why pay the chip shop’s £1 for a small pot of mushy peas or baked beans, when you can pack your own in a flask and add them yourself?  Every little helps, as they say!