Best food flasks for hot meals at work or camping trips (2022)

INSULATED food flasks are perfect for hiking trips where you don’t have anywhere to heat up your meals but they can also be great for the office or school.

We've tested the best food flasks that will keep your food warm - or cold - for hours, without you having to worry about spillages.


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What to look for in an insulated food flask

One of the first things to consider when choosing the best food flask for you is the size.

For kids, there are smaller capacity ones of around 300ml. These don’t weigh as much, will fit into lunch boxes and, as kids generally eat less, there’s nothing going to waste.

You can also get larger ones of over 800ml, which might suit one very hungry person or a lighter lunch for two.

Next, think about how long you would need to keep your food warm for. Look for ones that will retain heat for at least six hours.

The ones that will keep your food warm for longer will generally cost more, but they can also be more versatile.

You can also get flasks that come with foldable cutlery, which will be handy if you're travelling.

Finally, think about how easy it is to clean. Some flasks are dishwasher safe but it’s almost always better to wash it by hand. For this reason, a flask with a wider opening is generally better.

We tested some of the most popular brands around - here’s our verdict.


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SHO insulated food flask


  • SHO insulated food flask, £28.99 from Amazon - buy here

At 530ml, the SHO insulated food flask was one of the bigger ones we tried but you can get an even bigger 800ml version.

The jar has an outer twist-to-tighten lid and an inner screw top lid.

You get a foldable spoon with this food flask, which is stored on top of the inner lid. The inner lid also features a secret compartment just below the spoon, which can be used for storing salt and pepper if needed.

On the outside, you have a handy carry strap, so it’s easy to pick it up and take it with you.

The SHO promises to keep your food hot for 10 hours or cool for 20 and it lived up to its promise for us. For hot food, it was noticeably cooler after 10 hours but still hot enough to eat without reheating.

What we particularly liked about this one was the range of colours it’s available in, meaning it’s easy to get a shade you like.

Zwilling vacuum food flask


  • Zwilling vacuum food flask, £29.95 from Zwilling - buy here

Zwilling’s understated food flask is available in just one colour - a white base with a grey lid - and it looks and feels like a food jar for grown ups.

Inside the grey lid you’ll find a second screw-top lid that houses a foldable spoon. Hiding underneath this is a nifty button that you can press to release the vacuum seal in the container, making it easier to unscrew.

The double insulated interior is designed to keep food warm for up to 8 hours, or cool for 11.

In testing, we found that this worked a treat for keeping the contents of the jar warm. We especially appreciated the quick release button, which made unscrewing the jar much easier.

Another feature we loved was that this jar had a wider opening, which made it much easier to clean afterwards.

Hydro Flask insulated food jar

  • Hydro Flask insulated food jar, £43.95 from Parasol Store - buy here

The Hydro Flask insulated food jar was one of the simplest designs we tried and the 28oz (828ml) version offered some serious capacity. You can also get a smaller 20oz (591ml) version, though.

The cylindrical jar has a wide base with a lid that’s coated in a grippy material that makes it much easier to unscrew.

There’s no inner lid or cutlery with this one, nor does it promise to keep your food warm or cold for a specific amount of time. Because of this, we decided to go with a minimum keep-warm period of 6 hours.

In testing, we found that the contents of the jar had cooled significantly by the end of the 6 hours. It was still warm to the touch, but you would probably want to reheat it depending on what you’re storing.

We don’t think it’s a huge problem but obviously it depends on how long you’d need to keep your food warm for. For a camping trip where you might not eat for hours, it’s not ideal but for the office, the keep-warm time should be sufficient.

The one thing that this jar does have going for it is its extra wide opening, which makes adding food in and washing up afterwards that much easier.

Contigo food jar


  • Contigo food jar, £18.47 from Amazon - buy here

This Contigo food jar is designed for kids and comes with a fun ocean-themed pattern.

The design is fairly simple, with a sealed screw-top lid and a cylindrical base. The lid features grip grooves on it, which helps smaller hands to open the jar.

It’s on the smaller side though, with a capacity of just 300ml, so depending on how hungry your kids are, it might just be part of a meal rather than the whole thing.

There’s no cutlery included either, so you’ll have to remember to pack some.

In testing, we found that the jar lived up to its promise of keeping our food hot for six hours and cold for up to 7.

Its compact size meant it’s really easy to fit into lunch bags, and we didn’t have to worry about spillages.

It was also easy to wash up, although the base isn’t dishwasher safe.

Thermos Stainless King food flask


  • Thermos Stainless King food flask, £20 from Dunelm - buy here

Thermos is the most well known brand for making insulated flasks so they’ve got it down to a fine art.

We tried the 470ml version, which is just the right size for one person.

It’s lightweight and compact, with insulated walls that are designed to keep your food hot for 9 hours or cold for 14.

You get an outer lid that can double as a cup while the inner lid is sealed for waterproofing and insulation. The inner lid also holds a foldable spoon so you have everything you need to take it on the go.

This food flask is one of the most affordable around for its size and we especially loved how lightweight it was. It also did a great job of keeping our food warm for the full 9 hours.

The only downside we could find was that the opening was a bit more tapered compared to some of the other options, which meant cleaning up wasn’t as straightforward.

Black + Blum food flask


  • Black + Blum food flask, £24.75 from &Keep - buy here

The Black + Blum food flask comes in a sleek, stainless steel design with a nylon band used to secure the natural wood spoon while adding a pop of colour at the same time.

It has a 400ml capacity, which is perfect for one person - although if you’re particularly hungry you’ll need some extra sides.

The leak-proof design also promises to keep your food hot for up to six hours or cold for up to eight.

When we tested this flask, it kept the contents piping hot until we were ready to enjoy it and the slimline frame meant it was easy to store in our lunch bags or take on the go.

However, the silky smooth stainless steel finish made tightening and loosening the lid much harder. On the plus side, this made cleaning it super easy - handy as it can’t go in the dishwasher.

We also had to wrap the spoon to make sure it stayed clean before use as it’s on the outside of the flask rather than the inside.

What is the best soup flask?

Of the food flasks we tested, we think the Thermos Stainless King food flask would be best for soups.

Not only is it affordable but it also keeps the contents piping hot for hours.

Plus, the tapered top of the flask means it’s much easier to drink out of - but of course you can use the foldable spoon as well.

How does a vacuum flask work?

There are a couple of different ways a vacuum flask can keep the contents warm and it starts with the double-layered base.

Sandwiched between the inner and outer layers is a void - this vacuum stops the heat from the inner layer reaching the outer layer as heat can only be conducted through particles, whether it’s in the air, through liquids or solids.

The vacuum flask also has a screw top lid with a seal that helps to stop heat from escaping from the opening.

Obviously heat loss is still possible from the point where the two layers join up, and the seals, which is why even the best vacuum flasks will lose heat eventually.

How much are food flasks?

Food flasks vary in price depending on how big they are and how long they will keep your food warm.

The range spans from around £20 up to £40, but most are around £30.

Where to buy an insulated food flask

Food flasks are widely available online, especially from outdoor specialists.

As well as the ones we featured above, you can also find a large selection on Amazon or from Argos.

How to clean a flask

Some flasks are dishwasher safe, which makes cleaning really easy but it’s always best to wash it by hand if possible.

For drinks flasks, you’ll need an elongated brush that can reach the bottom, whereas for food flasks, which are shorter and have wider openings, it’s generally possible to wash it as you would a mug.

For any stains or bad odours, simply add a couple of teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda to the flask and then top up with hot water.

Make sure you do this slowly as it could easily overflow.

Then you just leave the liquid inside to get to work for half an hour and then rinse clean.

If you use your flask to store hot water, you might see limescale build up.

To remove this, simply add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar to the flask and top it up with water. Leave this for a couple of hours or overnight to give it time to work.

Before you rinse it out, just give it a quick clean with a bottle brush to remove any stubborn deposits.


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