Enjoy 20 Easy Hot School Lunches for kids! Plus, learn how to keep food hot in a thermos. These simple hot school lunch ideas for kids are an easy alternative to the usual sandwich!

20 Easy Hot School Lunch Ideas for Kids

Easy Hot School Lunch Ideas for Kids

When it comes to back to school time, you’ll want to think about school lunches for your kids. Hot school lunches are always my family’s favorite.

If you have kids that don’t like sandwiches, a hot school lunch is the way to go!

I like to wrap hot dogs and chicken nuggets in foil, but did you know you could also use a Thermos to make them stay warmer for much longer?

I didn’t realize how to use a Thermos properly until a few years ago. It’s really super simple and I can’t believe I wasn’t doing this when they were little!

How Do You Keep Food Hot For School Lunches?

First of all, to keep food warm for hot school lunches, you’ll want to set your alarm a little early on the days you want to send a hot school lunch with your kids.

All it takes is a microwave, hot water and a little extra time for a delicious hot school lunch!

20 Hot School Lunches for Kids
20 Hot School Lunches for Kids

4 Simple Back to School Tips Every Parent Should Know About

Thermos Tips & Tricks

Here are some easy tips and tricks for using a thermos to keep your kids school lunches hot for hours!

Will Pasta Stay Warm in a Thermos?

A favorite hot lunch for kids is usually pasta, such as mac and cheese or spaghetti. Pasta will definitely stay warm in a thermos. Learn a few tips and tricks for keeping food hot in a thermos below.

How Do You Keep Food Hot in a Thermos?

Ever wanted to know how to keep food hot inside of a Thermos? It’s so easy and only takes a few steps:

  1. Boil water by adding a large glass full of hot water into the microwave for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Fill the Thermos with boiling water, close the lid and let it sit inside for about 5 minutes.
  3. When you’re ready to fill the Thermos, pour out the water and add the food immediately. The Thermos should be piping hot!
  4. Cover your food with the lid as soon as you can to keep the heat inside of the container. The food will stay hot for hours! Don’t forget to add a spoon or fork into your kids lunch box.

When you need some new ideas beside the usual soup in a kid’s Thermos, here are some easy hot school lunch ideas.

What Are the Best Hot School Lunches for Kids?

This is a list of the best 20 hot lunch ideas that I’ve made for my kids in the past. Your kids are sure to like one of these hot school lunches.

Hot school lunches

What Can You Put In A Lunch Thermos?

You’ll love these 20 easy hot lunch ideas to put in your kid’s lunch thermos:

  1. Chicken nuggets. Probably the most popular at our house!
  2. Corn on the cob.
  3. Pizza Cut it into strips so it will fit inside a thermos and still be nice and warm when it’s time to hit the cafeteria.
  4. Bacon and scrambled eggs.
  5. Ravioli with butter.
  6. Rice and beans.
  7. Grilled cheese sandwich. Cut into strips.
  8. Spaghetti or Chicken Tetrazzini. A childhood favorite!
  9. Left over Chinese food.
  10. Layered tacos. Layer tortilla chips, taco meat and cheese. Chop lettuce and tomatoes and put in a small container for toppings.
  11. Mashed potatoes layered with grilled chicken and veggies.
  12. Mac and cheese – Add vegetables or hamburger crumbles.
  13. Mini pancakes – Put syrup and fruit in a small container for kids to add on top of the warm pancakes.
  14. Ramen noodles.
  15. Nachos. After heating the thermos, fill with tortilla chips and sprinkle with shredded cheese. The cheese should melt by the time your child is ready for lunch!
  16. Oatmeal with cinnamon and granola sprinkled on top.
  17. Hamburger sliders. Stack a few small hamburgers inside of the thermos.
  18. Chili with chips and cheese sprinkled on top.
  19. Pulled pork with barbecue sauce. Add a bun in the lunch box for a make your own sandwich lunch.
  20. Mixed vegetables with rice.

Easy Back to School Recipes:


–> Click here to download my Free Printable School Lunch Box Planner!

85 School Lunches

Originally published August 9, 2017 – Updated July 2021

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  2. Thank you for the positive feedback! I’m delighted to hear that you found the hot school lunch ideas and tips helpful. Coming up with creative and practical alternatives to sandwiches can indeed make the lunch experience more enjoyable for kids. I also want to recommend one convenient [Link deleted]tool that can help with homework. The simplicity of wrapping hot items like hot dogs and chicken nuggets in foil is a small yet effective trick that can make a big difference in keeping the food warm until lunchtime.

  3. Fantastic ideas for hot school lunches! It’s always a challenge to come up with alternatives to sandwiches, and your suggestions are not only creative but also practical. Wrapping hot dogs and chicken nuggets in foil is such a simple yet effective way to keep them warm.

    I appreciate the Thermos tips and tricks. It’s amazing how a little planning and the right use of a Thermos can transform the lunch experience for kids. The Paw Patrol Thermos is such a fun touch that I’m sure many kids would love.

    Your emphasis on setting the alarm a bit early on the days you plan to send a hot school lunch is a great reminder. It’s these little extra efforts that make a significant difference in providing a delicious and satisfying meal for kids.

    Thanks for sharing these easy and hot school lunch ideas, especially as we gear up for the back-to-school season. Parents looking to add variety to their kids’ lunches will find this list incredibly helpful!

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  6. I love all these ideas. I’m a hot lunch fan myself so I’m always looking for stuff I can keep warm till lunch time. I wish I had thought of the pancakes when my youngest was still in school. He loved breakfast food for lunch.

    I’m going camping overnight with the grand-dog next week and going to try the nachos in the thermos for a rest stop snack!

  7. so much great info! I wish I had this kind of information when our kids where in school!!

  8. I’ve tried the paper towel trick and it didn’t work unfortunately. Anything that is supposed to be dry or crispy doesn’t work well in a thermos.

  9. My daughter’s favorite hot lunch is pasta with either pot roast gravy or spaghetti sauce. I portion cooked pasta in snack size bags and freeze them. I also freeze little 2 oz. mini cups (available near the plastic bags at large retailers) with leftover gravy or pasta sauce. In the morning, I grab a pasta and heat it in a bowl in the microwave (without the bag!) before placing it in the Thermos.
    The gravy gets also heated in a small bowl in the microwave and then placed back into the mini cup with lid. That cup gets placed on top of the pasta. It gets poured on the pasta at lunch. This prevents the pasta from soaking up all the sauce during the morning and turning into a big lump.
    Sometimes I use leftover pasta and sauce to freeze and sometimes I cook it specifically for multiple freezer portions. Martina

  10. For the nuggets put a paper towel in the thermos first then the nuggets… soak up the heat condensation.

  11. I’ve been experimenting with a few different foods for my daughters hot lunch. She says the chicken nuggets are soggy by lunch time, and the hot dog was all wet and slimy with lots of hot dog juice in the bottom. Do you have any tips to combat these problems?

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