Author Topic: Heating lunch night before (slow cooker on "warm"?)  (Read 3122 times)

newideas2013

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Heating lunch night before (slow cooker on "warm"?)
« on: September 22, 2013, 09:41:49 PM »
I am planning out lunches I can take to work. Just bought a nice coffee thermos that can hold half a pot of coffee and keep it warm for 24 hours (so it claims). Should be good enough for me until lunchtime at least. Figured out my "delay brew" timer function so now I can skip buying morning and breaktime coffees.

While looking for the coffee thermos I saw other nice food containers that would be perfect for chilis, pastas that can keep food warm for 8 hours.

Was thinking can I take a meal out of the fridge (or better yet, the freezer), pop it in a slow cooker set to "warm" overnight and have hot lunch ready to throw in a thermos in the morning? A few meals I am thinking are pastas, chili and a meat/sweet potato/veggie mix. Generally I'd do 2 seperate meals as we start at 6am, break for 30 minutes at 9:30 then break again at 12:30 and I'd like to eat 2 seperate hot meals at each.

We do have a communal microwave at work but with so many people working and heating their lunches it would be nice for things to be hot and ready already.

Jack

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Re: Heating lunch night before (slow cooker on "warm"?)
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2013, 09:49:37 PM »
I would be very wary of using a slow cooker to heat things up from frozen because they'll spend way too long in the temperature danger zone (40 F to 140 F), and you're not heating them up high enough to kill the bacteria off (165 F... your food would be inedible if reheated that high).

Left

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Re: Heating lunch night before (slow cooker on "warm"?)
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2013, 10:19:20 PM »
I don't use it to thaw things out, instead I slow cook food overnight (technically over day for me) and pack that. It should be fine if it's already cooked, just gets cooked some more. Add lots of water or it'll dry out already cooked food pretty fast if you don't. Frozen/precooked food should be safer than raw food if temperature on it didn't kill the bacteria. But I toss in a piece of meat, potatoes, tomatoes, etc before I sleep and it's ready in the morning for breakfast/lunch.

A rice cooker on a timer works great too :) So does a USB powered coffee warmer/hot plate, I use one at home for keeping my tea hot instead of coffee.

but if it's just a matter of heating up the food, why can't you use a microwave in the morning then packing it away hot? Microwave is going to be able to heat food to the same temperature as a slow cooker for the intent of warming up a frozen meal.

dragoncar

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Re: Heating lunch night before (slow cooker on "warm"?)
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2013, 01:25:01 AM »
I would be very wary of using a slow cooker to heat things up from frozen because they'll spend way too long in the temperature danger zone (40 F to 140 F), and you're not heating them up high enough to kill the bacteria off (165 F... your food would be inedible if reheated that high).

I'd just check the temp before packing it.  Make sure it's over 165.  Google food safety guidelines that stores have to follow (eg restaurant chili sitting in a pot all day).  I think if you keep the lid tight then little water will escape right?

Half-Borg

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Re: Heating lunch night before (slow cooker on "warm"?)
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2013, 03:08:54 AM »
If the slow cooker is just for heating it up, you are wasting a lot of energy overnight. Most of it is going to dissipate. It would be much more efficent to use the microwave in the morning.

MsGuided

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Re: Heating lunch night before (slow cooker on "warm"?)
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2013, 04:38:32 PM »
I love the slow cooker.  I do put frozen meat in it and have never had any problem.  I understand the microwave efficiency point of view, but it is nice to wake up to something done and ready.  Also, some recipes turn out much better when slow cooked, especially those involving tough cuts of meat. 

What kind of container did you find (besides the Thermos) for packing your lunch?  Where did you get it?  I'd also be interested to hear how well it works for your purpose.

onehappypanda

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Re: Heating lunch night before (slow cooker on "warm"?)
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2013, 04:54:41 PM »
Another vote for not sticking frozen stuff in the crockpot - it may not kill you, but it does increase your chances of getting sick from the food due to the temperate it'll be at as it cooks.

Plus, it's not hard to just thaw something out pre-crockpot. For me, I freeze crockpot meals, thaw them in the fridge overnight, and plop in the crockpot in the morning on low. They're done by the time I get home. For you, that could mean thawing in the fridge during the day, then throwing in the crockpot at night. Not much effort for additional safety :)

Otherwise this sounds like an awesome plan. I love any good use of the crockpot really.