Handy Food Travel Containers May 11, 2009
Topics: Nutrition

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There's probably not anyone left in Central Texas who doesn't know that one of the secrets of maintaining a healthy weight is to control portions, reduce unnecessary fat and eat food that provides good nutrition instead of empty calories. An easy way to accomplish those goals is to limit how often you eat out where you can't control either the portion size or the way the food is prepared. Plus, these days, taking a lunch (or breakfast or snacks) can be a substantial money saver for the whole family.

But there are downsides. Many people run out of ideas and get tired of the same old sandwich, apple and crackers. So pump up your appetite at the same time you apply calorie and cost savings to your eating. Choose the right containers that allow you to pack just about anything you want from soup and sandwich to a four course meal without worrying about whether there will be a handy fridge or microwave around when you get ready to eat.

Thanks to improving technology, it's now possible to keep cold things really cold, hot things really hot and dry things fresh and uncrushed until it's time to use them. Most are lightweight, compact and keep your food hot, cold, wet or dry, depending on your needs. These types of containers are widely available in a broad range of prices. Browse for the container you need online or look in grocery, discount or specialty stores to find what will work best for your needs.

Cereal/milk containers

Cereal and milk are not the first thing you think about if you need to grab your breakfast and go, but new containers make that entirely possible. Two-part cups let you store the dry cereal in the top and milk in the bottom, which has an insulated base that you freeze overnight. It keeps milk icy cold (but never frozen) until you get ready to eat. Preferably not as you drive. Whole grain cereal with low-fat milk are considered one of the staples of a healthy diet.

Salad Shakers

Salad has always been a challenge to carry away from home unless you had refrigeration. Nowadays, you can find salad bowls with a built-in ice pack that goes into the freezer the night before, complete with a separate built-in container for salad dressing. When you are ready to eat, release the salad dressing, shake and you have a cool, crisp delicious salad instead of a warm or soggy one. No refrigeration needed. There are also versions that involved spraying the salad with the dressing. Either one eliminates the mess of carrying your salad dressing separately and then trying to mix in a small container.

Multi-compartment Carriers

These can be everything from a traditional lunch box to a back pack. The key issue is whether they provide separate compartments that keep food from smashing together during transit. Besides providing separation and distance, these may also provide individual insulation for individual compartments so that you can transport cold foods and hot foods at the same time. Even if you are just having a sandwich, your ability to take the fixings with you unassembled will eliminate soggy sandwiches forever.

Wide-mouthed Thermal Containers

These insulated containers can hold everything from beverages to stew and are designed to keep food hot as well as cold. They are perfect to carry stews, soups or other hot items. Many have additional compartments that can hold dry or wet food items such as crackers or condiments or cheese and veggies. Think of tortilla soup packed piping hot with avocado slices, grated cheese and crispy tortilla strips to add at the last minute. Yum! Or you can use them to transport a real meal that should be served hot such as leftover lasagna or meat and potatoes.

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