I’m always on the lookout for gadgets and tools that will make weekend brown bag meal prep easier. This week, I found some neat plastic containers at Walmart that will do the trick nicely.
These 2-compartment containers can be used both in the freezer and microwave. And for those of you who have been following my posts concerning the Hot Logic thermal bag….it works well in that device also.
A 15-pack of the containers cost just under $10.00. My opinion? They’re worth it. You can portion out your meals for the week into the containers and stack them in the freezer. In the morning, you just grab one and take it to work.
By the way, you can purchase 1-compartment containers at Walmart also. Not sure about 3-compartment, but I’ve seen these advertised on amazon.com.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve shared my experiences using the Hot Logic Mini Thermal Bag. It’s a portable nylon convection oven with a hot plate insert. When used with a sealed Pyrex dish, this wonderful gadget seals in flavor and odor while warming up and cooking a variety of foods.
This week, I cooked a raw food product for the very first time: Frozen salmon. I must admit that I had my doubts as to whether this would work. However, the manufacturer assured that the thermal bag could do the job.
I picked the fish up at my local Sprouts. Although wild salmon is rather expensive at almost $5 per serving, I’m really fond of the flavor and am willing to pay extra. Also, wild salmon tends to contain more healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids.
I put a slice of the salmon in my Hot Logic, skin side up, along with some frozen vegetables. Then I topped the fish with Lawry’s Lemon-Pepper Marinade and added chopped fresh dill. Finally, I plugged in the device. (By the way, I did not defrost any of this food prior to cooking.)
Two and a half hours later, here’s the result:
Everything was completely cooked and piping hot. The vegetables were tender but not overdone; the salmon was cooked just right. It was delicious!
Best of all, there was no fishy odorwhile the food cooked. And when I opened the Pyrex dish, the aroma was far less than it would have been with the use of a microwave oven. I should mention that glass Pyrex seems to be the only material that seals in flavor and odor. You can safely use the Mini Logic with plastic and foil containers, but you end up with a smellier cooking process.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Hot Logic Mini thermal bag, please see https://myhotlogic.com for more information. Also, look under the “Gadgets” category under the Menu section of this blog. Finally, you can purchase the Hot Logic Thermal Bag (also referred to as a “mini oven”) on amazon.com. The bag plus matching Pyrex dish runs about $55.
After wining and dining throughout eastern California this past week, I felt the need for a healthier, lighter lunch. So I pulled out my Hot Logic thermal bag and went to work.
In case you have not been following my posts on the subject, the Hot Logic thermal bag is a marvelous invention for brown baggers who want a hot lunch, but who do not wish to use the office microwave. The device is essentially a small, aluminum-lined lunch bag with an inner hot plate. I usually place my food in a glass Pyrex dish that I purchased with the bag. It takes about 2 to 2 1/2 hours to cook most foods with the Mini Logic. By the way, if you’re going on a road trip, you can plug the Mini into a car converter.
Today, I heated up some frozen breaded tilapia and frozen mixed vegetables. This is what the food looked like going into the Hot Logic:
I plugged the device in. Two and a half hours later, this is what lunch looked like:
All of the food was completely cooked and piping hot. My only criticism is that the breading on the fish was kind of soggy. Otherwise, very tasty.
I should mention that using the Pyrex dish insured there were no food smells emanating from the oven. Great if you want to heat your lunch in your own work area.
My next experiment: Cooking breadless, frozen fish in the thermal bag. The Hot Logic manufacturers guarantee that it can be done. So stay tuned…..
If you are interested in finding out more about this device, please see https://myhotlogic.com for more information. Also, look under the “Gadgets” category under the Menu section of this blog. Finally, you can purchase the Hot Logic Thermal Bag (also referred to as a “mini oven”) on amazon.com. The bag plus matching Pyrex dish runs about $55.
I am increasingly impressed at the things my new portable Hot Logic thermal bag can do. (The Hot Logic mini is a portable convection oven/lunch bag in which you can cook hot meals for lunch.)
In my last blog, I described a successful demo where I cooked a lamb dish in the bag within two hours.
This time, I decided to test the manufacturer’s claim that one can cook frozen dinners in the Hot Logic….without opening the cardboard container.
Below, you see an unopened one-serving package of frozen ravioli that I placed in my Hot Logic mini.
Two hours later, I opened up the Hot Logic device, and then the package. (Two hour cooking time per Hot Logic manual instructions.) The cardboard was not burned or otherwise damaged. The interior container and plastic film cover were not damaged, either. The food came out piping hot and ready to eat. Lovely!
As mentioned before: If you are interested in finding out more about this product, you can go to https://myhotlogic.com or type in “hot logic” at amazon.com.
I’m a bit of a sucker for gadgets of any kind. With this in mind, I decided to try out the above device after hearing raves from a close friend of mine. The Hot Logic mini is a single-serving conduction oven, apparently made of some sort of nylon on the outside, and aluminum lining on the inside. The operative element is a hot plate placed inside the container. It is small and convenient for transportation, and the Hot Logic makers advertise it as a great alternative for people who lunch at work. By the way, you can also purchase a vehicular converter from the manufacturer if you want to heat food in your car.
The mini oven is sold on amazon.com, along with a Pyrex container, for approximately $55.00. This does not included shipping costs. Dimensions are 10″x7.5″. The Pyrex container is rectangular and holds 6 cups. Specs indicate the nylon case can hold a container up to 8.75″x6.75″x2.5″. You can purchase the entire set for a comparable price at https://myhotlogic.com.
The American-based makers of this product state that one can heat frozen food and leftover refrigerated food with the device. They also claim that you can use the Hot Logic mini to cook certain foods from scratch. Well, that remains to be seen. However, I did try it with a frozen Saffron Road lamb dish that I purchased at Sprouts.
Although the specs say that the above food item can be directly placed in the oven, cardboard box and all, I decided to play it safe and use the Pyrex container.
I placed the food in the Pyrex dish, sealed it with the plastic top, put the Pyrex in the mini oven, zipped everything closed, and plugged ‘er in. Two hours later, here are the results:
The lamb was hot, moist, tender and delicious. The side dish was just okay, but I suspect that the quality of the rice was more at fault than the Hot Logic device. At any rate, the food was more than adequately heated, and it tasted great. Also, I noted that the outside of the nylon oven was not hot, not even near the point of contact with the hot plate. This would support the manufacturers’ claim that the oven can be safely plugged into a car. Finally, there were no food odors until I opened the device at completion of cooking. This tells me that the mini oven can be used at the work site without bothering one’s neighbors.
You will be hearing more about the Hot Logic Mini as I experiment and try more dishes.
In a previous blog, I discussed gadgets that you might want to have at your disposal when packing meals. Every once in a while, I will report on how well these and other gadgets work.
This morning, I decided to heat up some of the frozen curried lentil soup I made the other day. I placed a portion of it, still frozen, in my own CrockPot lunch warmer at 11:20am and plugged in the device. At 1:20 pm, I took a photo. As you can see, the soup is completely thawed. I can also attest to the fact that it is piping hot and ready to eat.
This is the first time I’ve tried the warmer out on frozen food, and it performed well. If I were working in an office, I would probably plug it in at the morning break to get the food properly heated by noon.
If you’re interested in finding out more about this device, please see my earlier blog concerning brown bag equipment.
NEXT BLOG: Walking the Periphery: A Trip Through The Grocery Store, Part 2
For many years, I was a traveling trainer for a government agency. My job required that I drive long distances to remote offices all over Los Angeles County. I frequently taught at locations that did not offer drinks or any other refreshments. If I were lucky, there might be a Starbucks or other restaurant nearby, but that was not always the case. So I had to provide for myself if I had any hope of eating during the day.
Here’s a list of equipment that I found useful during my time as a trainer:
Lunch bag. I’m extremely absent-minded, especially in the morning. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve walked out the door without my keys, or my wallet, or… my lunch bag. To get organized before leaving for work, I started packing all my items (purses, lunch bags, coffee thermos) into a rolling backpack. To save room, I needed a small, compact food carrier that would easily fit inside the backpack.
After checking prices at various locations, I settled on an Arctic Zone lunch bag which I bought at Walmart for $7.97.
The bag is approximately 6″x9″ and well insulated. It has two interior sections for food storage. And it easily fits into a backpack.
Individual food containers. Walmart carries these items for $6.92. They fit nicely into the Arctic Zone lunch bag, and they are BPA free, freezer safe, microwave safe, and dishwasher safe.
By the way: In a previous blog, I referred to the fact that it’s important to keep food cold until it’s consumed or heated up. We certainly don’t want to get salmonella poisoning from our food. So please put a frozen cold pack in your lunch bag before leaving the house.
Thermos. What if you don’t have access to a microwave and you want a hot lunch? There are a few options out there. For example, a solid steel Thermos will keep food hot or cold for hours. Here’s what I’ve always used:
I bought this item on Amazon.com for $19.99. It’s more expensive than other types of thermos….but it works. If you want to use the Genuine Thermos for a hot lunch, fill it with very hot water from the tap and let sit for 10 minutes. Then pour the water out and add your heated food. Just as the label says, this thermos will keep your stuff hot for hours, and it holds up to 16 oz. of food. Caveat: The thermos works best with foods that contain plenty of liquid, such as oatmeal, soup, and stews. It does not keep pilaf or pasta warm for a long time. But here’s something else that does…..
Plug-in Lunch Warmer. Over the last few years, experts have developed a whole list of plug-in lunch containers that are alternatives to microwaves or toaster ovens. I’ve tried one or two of these items. My favorite is the Crock-Pot Lunch Warmer.
You can purchase the lunch warmer online from various sources, including Amazon.com, Target, Best Buy, and crock-pot.com. It holds 20 oz. and costs anywhere from $19.99 to $29.99, depending on where you buy it. (I note that Best Buy advertises it at the lower price.)
The lunch warmer is by far my favorite brown bag device. It heats your food within two hours without burning or drying it up. The best feature is the double seal, which keeps food odors from escaping while lunch is cooking. Thus, you can plug the warmer in at your desk without bothering your neighbors. I’ve warmed up everything from stews to pasta to pilaf, and the results are always great. By the way, the inner container is removable and very easy to clean. Caveat: Although the instructions indicate that you can coil the plug-in cord around the base of the warmer for storage, do not do this. Over time, this stresses the base of the cord, and the warmer will eventually short out. I found out the hard way and ended up purchasing another one. Also, do not cook raw food with this lunch warmer. It’s only to be used for warming food that’s already cooked.