Whether it's to keep your plate warm while serving it or out of a concern for food safety, keeping food warm is important. Luckily, there are several easy ways to do this at home. You can use your home appliances or heat-insulated containers to keep food warm, a cooler to make a warm, portable container, or serve food on hot plates so it doesn't get cold. It is possible to have a hot meal wherever you are and whichever method you choose.
Method 1 of 4: Using Home Appliances
Step 1. Set the crockpot to the "keep warm" setting for soups and stews
Allow the pan to preheat before pouring the food into the container so that the food does not get cold. This setting leaves food close to 77°C for as long as you leave the pan on.
- Cookware is best for more liquid foods such as soups, stews, sauces, or mashed potatoes.
- The food may continue to cook for a while or change its texture the longer you leave it in the pan.
- After turning off the appliance, it is safe to leave the food warm inside for up to two hours.
Step 2. Place meats and large dishes in the oven at 95 °C
Preheat the oven to the lowest possible temperature and transfer the hot food to a container that can be placed inside. Place the container on the center rack of the oven and leave it there for up to two hours.
Check the temperature of the food with a thermometer after 20 minutes to see if it is above 60°C. If not, raise the oven temperature a little
Step 3. Make a hot water bath on the stove for foods that are inside pots or pans
Fill a large pot halfway with water and place over medium-low heat. Check the water temperature with a thermometer to see if it is around 70°C and put another pot or pan with the food in the middle of the water bath.
- You can use this method as long as you keep the heat low and replace any water that evaporates with warm water.
- Stir the food from time to time so it doesn't burn at the bottom.
Step 4. Use chaff fuel in aluminum buffet platters
Remove the fuel cap using a blunt object, such as a spoon, and place the container under the buffet platter before lighting it with an ordinary lighter. The fuel will burn for up to two hours before it runs out. Put out the fire with the lid or a candle extinguisher when you are finished using it.
- Use caution when working with an open flame.
- Rechaud fuel can be purchased in gel or candle form. Both work the same way.
Method 2 of 4: Storing Hot Food on the Go
Step 1. Place soups and stews in thermos bottles
Transfer the soup to a tall thermos while it's still hot. Close the lid tightly as soon as you finish putting the food in the container. Drink the soup within four hours so it doesn't get cold and develop bacteria.
- Read the thermos packaging to find out how long you can safely store food in it.
- These bottles sometimes can only accommodate one serving.
Step 2. Buy cooler bags for the larger dishes
Similar to the pouches used for delivering pizzas, they allow you to store food in such a way that it retains heat. Cover the hot dish with a lid or aluminum foil before closing it in the bag and leave it there for a maximum of three hours before serving the dish.
Thermal bags can be purchased at large supermarkets or kitchen supply stores. There are reusable and disposable options
Step 3. Buy a portable food warmer to keep food warm in the car
Find a lunch box or cooler that can be plugged into the cigarette lighter, fill it with hot food, and plug it in while you drive. The appliance will use the car's energy to keep food at a safe temperature.
- Leave the device connected only while the car is in motion. Otherwise, you'll end up with the vehicle's battery.
- Check the voltage requirements of your chosen appliance to see if your cigarette lighter can produce the required energy. If not, the device may short-circuit.
Method 3 of 4: Making an Insulated Container
Step 1. Line the inside of a cooler with aluminum foil
Even though the cooler is made to keep everything cool, you can also use it to conserve food heat. Double-layer aluminum foil around the inside of the cooler. This material will keep the heat in there.
Step 2. Wrap the hot food container with more aluminum foil
Spread out a large piece of aluminum foil on the countertop and place the hot pot on it. Food needs to be very hot when wrapped in paper. Use a few pieces of aluminum foil to completely cover the pot.
Put on an oven mitt when rolling the aluminum foil so you don't burn yourself
Step 3. Place the container inside the cooler
Place the pot in the middle of the cooler. The heat from the container will pass through the aluminum foil and keep the entire cooler warm.
Step 4. Fill never-used socks with raw rice to make two or three thermal bags
Fill new cotton socks halfway with raw rice. After placing the rice inside the sock, tie a simple knot at the top so the grains don't spill.
- To secure it even better, tie the socks together with string.
- Raw beans also work the same way.
Step 5. Heat the coolers in the microwave for two to three minutes
Use normal microwave settings. When time runs out, the bags will be hot and will retain heat for some time.
Step 6. Place the cooler bags next to the food container
Fill in the large spaces on each side of the food pot to make the cooler warmer and help keep food at a reasonable temperature.
Step 7. Fill cooler gaps with towels
Use clean towels so that food does not move while it is being transported. They should be snug against the food pot to insulate the heat inside.
Step 8. Place a hot water bottle on top of the towels
Fill a rubber hot water bottle with boiling water. It is easier to pour water into the bag using a kettle or teapot. Place the hot water bottle over the cooler to add one last heating element.
Tightly close the cooler after placing the hot water bottle so the heat has nowhere to escape
Step 9. Eat food within two hours
The cooler's temperature will start to drop over time. Take a cooking thermometer with you to check the temperature of the food and see if it is above 70°C.
Method 4 of 4: Keeping the Dishes Warm
Step 1. Heat the dishes in the microwave quickly
Stack the dishes and place them in the microwave. Use the appliance on the regular setting and heat the dishes for 30 seconds each. When finished, use an oven mitt to get the dishes out of there, as they will be hot.
Step 2. Place the dishes in the oven at the lowest possible temperature, if they are oven-safe
Preheat the oven to the lowest temperature, usually about 65 to 95 °C. When it's hot, put the pile of dishes inside and leave it for a few minutes. Use an oven mitt to get them out and let them cool a little before serving.
Use an electric oven big enough for the dishes if you want to save energy
Step 3. Buy an electric plate warmer so you can still use your appliances
These heaters look like a large folding heat mat on which to stack dishes. Plug the appliance into the wall socket and switch it on. Wrap the plate with the warmer and place another plate on top. Stack the rest of the dishes to heat them fully for five minutes before serving the food.
- Plate warmers can be purchased online or at kitchen supply stores.
- In an emergency, you can use a thermal pad for your back. It can be purchased at hospital supply stores.