Whether you're driving to dinner in the next county over or taking a full-day train trip and want to take your own snacks, keeping food hot outside your kitchen is a challenge. You can't keep a whole turkey piping hot for days -- nor would you want to -- but it's possible to keep most foods warm for at least half a day, or sometimes a full day. Best of all, the items you already have in your kitchen cupboards may be all you need.
Transfer food into glass containers, which holds heat better than plastic. Wrap foods like breads, meatloaf or sliced chicken in foil as an alternative to using glass containers.
Wrap towels around each glass container or foil-wrapped package. These layers of fabric will further insulate the containers and keep the food hot. Place the towel-wrapped food inside insulated coolers or cardboard boxes to prevent spilling.
Store large amounts of food, like a full-sized lasagna or a double batch of mashed potatoes, in disposable foil food containers with cardboard lids. Slide these containers into insulated storage bags -- the type used by pizza delivery drivers -- or hard-sided insulated food cases.
Pour hot soup or stew into a vacuum food flask. Transfer the liquid straight from the stove into the container to keep it as hot as possible. Seal the lid tightly; turn it upside-down over the sink to make sure it won't leak.
Buy a portable food cooler/warmer that plugs into your car's lighter. Depending on the size of your unit, you may keep several small containers of food inside so you'll have warm food during a road trip. Flip the unit's "warm" switch to keep food hot; later, flip it to "cool" if you want to keep other foods chilled.
Things You Will Need
Cooler or cardboard box
Foil food containers
Insulated storage bags or boxes
Vacuum food flask
Place any small bags or food flasks inside a washable bag or cardboard box when you're traveling by car. Stuff towels into any open spots in the bag or box. Secure it to a seat using a seat belt, or place it in the trunk and tuck other items around it so it won't move during transit.
Carry a food thermometer with you when you're traveling with hot food. Check that food is at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit and has stayed continually at or above this temperature before eating it. This safety rule doesn't apply to baked goods but is important for meats or anything made with raw eggs.
Don't take anything more than a hot sandwich onto a plane. You can't fly with liquids, so soups are out, and the Transportation Security Administration frowns upon travelers bringing insulated beverage containers on board, meaning yours could be confiscated. Wrap your food in foil and place it in an insulated lunch bag.