Most of the dishes Shannon Rebolledo makes for her growing family are hot and homemade.
"I have three who are in elementary school and I have one who is in pre-k,” Shannon said.
But when it comes to packing the occasional lunch to take to school, her options are limited to cold foods.
"Sandwich, fruit, veggies, and normally some sort of sweet,” Shannon said.
That's why we wanted Shannon to try "Lava Lunch." It claims to be the only tote that keeps food hot up to six hours.
The website 'The Grommet' says "as the temperature inside the bag starts to fall, the lava rocks begin to release their heat, keeping the food warm."
We paid $29.99 for one tote. That does not include shipping.
Shannon takes the Lava Rocks and heats them up according to the directions; about 90 seconds on each side. When they're ready, we put them inside the "Lava Lunch's" pockets.
We check the temperature of our home-cooked meal. The chicken noodles and the empanada both reach at least 170-degrees before they're packed up.
A little more than four hours later, we check in with the Rebolledo family. The food thermometer says the chicken noodles are 134-degrees—nearly a 40-degree drop. But that doesn't seem to bother this kitchen crew.
"I think it's good. Perfect,” Raef Rebolledo said.
The empanada is now 115-degrees.
"If it was longer than four hours, I don't think it would probably work. This is probably a good temperature for the children, since you don't want it piping hot for the kids,” Shannon said.
But Shannon has some concerns about packing meat and it not being kept at a safe temperature.
"And dairy or the sauces,” Shannon said.
However, if she picks the right dishes, she likes the idea of a warm, home-cooked lunch at school.
Does it work?
"I think it does,” Shannon said.
Don't forget about the "danger zone" where bacteria can grow on food. According to the USDA you want to keep food above a certain temperature, or below a certain temperature. It ranges for different meats. You can find food safety information from the USDA here.