Since beginning my school career six years ago, one of the things that has stressed me out the most is, as strange as it is to say, lunch time.

If you’re an educator, you may understand. Our given time for lunch is short. Access to a refrigerator and/or microwave is limited. Lines are long. You want and need something healthy and nourishing, but are often resigned to sandwiches and pre-packaged salads. Does this sound familiar?

I fall squarely into the camp of people who really, truly need warm food. I don’t digest cold meals, like the aforementioned sandwiches and salads, very well unless I am in a nice, relaxing environment (which, it is safe to say, is never the school setting). I blame it on my Vata.

So, year after year, I’ve struggled to figure out how to eat what I need and do it in a timely manner without a ton of added stress. And year after year, I’ve failed. Until now. Enter, the Crock Pot Food Warmer.

Now, this is not a new invention. I’ve looked at these little gadgets, on and off, for several years now, but never quite took the bait. This year, I did it and I have been so happy.

The process is simple. Grab some leftovers (or, if you prefer a canned soup or something similar). Dump it in the stainless steel crock and top with the plastic lid. Keep it in your fridge overnight, if prepping before bed, or pop it straight into the warming base with lid. Take it to work, plug it in somewhere inconspicuous and, whenever you have a free moment to eat, unplug, take off the lids, and eat.

Lunch, simplified.

It doesn’t smell while warming. It’s ready in as little as an hour, but if left on for several hours, doesn’t get above a comfortable eating temperature. It seems to be held at a safe temperature for as long as needed. The inner lid, which can seem a little difficult to get off when the unit is cold, pops off easily once it is warm. You don’t remove the inner stainless steel pot from the unit to eat (because, hot), so if you need to transport it to the cafeteria, simple wrap the cord around the bottom of the base and carry the entire unit via the handle on the outer lid or inside your lunch bag. It’s big enough to hold plenty of food, but small enough to fit inside your average lunch box.

The biggest adjustment, really, has been remembering to plug it in as soon as I get to work. If I had a refrigerator to keep it cold until I settle in, that would be ideal, but I just remember to put an ice pack in my lunch box in case I forget. As long as I remember to plug it in within an hour of lunch, I’m good to go!

It seems overly dramatic, but this has really been life changing. I’ve even wondered if it could be used in a car, with an AC-DC adapter for road trips…. I’m not sure about that, but maybe I’ll give it a go one day alongside my collapsible, portable tea kettle!

(I’m really not much of a gadget person… only for the important things!)