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Packing hot lunches for school kids

A few weeks ago I wasn’t feeling the greatest so my wonderful husband very sweetly let me sleep in and he got up and made the kids their lunches.  It was cold and miserable outside, he thought out of the square (or lunchbox in this case) and remembered I had some Thermos in the back of the cupboard, he pulled them out and made each of the kids some 2 minute noodles for lunch and put them in a thermos to keep warm.

I purchased our Thermos a few years ago from Kmart, I am certain they still stock them, they weren’t expensive at all, under $10 I am sure.

I was asked a few questions in regards to using the Thermos on facebook and instagram:

  • asked if I sell ‘the organised husband’ as a prototype in my shop… LOL
  • mentioned they had never thought of sending a hot lunch
  • offered their suggestions of contents for a Thermos lunch (find them below)
  • only one or two people picked on the ‘not so healthy’ aspect of this lunch.  I strive to make my kids lunches as healthy as possible, but this one day that I was unwell, hubby took it upon himself to make the lunches, I think the gesture far outweighed one unhealthy lunchbox for the week.
  • Does the Thermos keep the noodles hot?  Yes it certainly did.  Hubby kept the water in the noodles (I would have removed the water), non of the kids complained it was soggy nor cold and both asked if they could have it again.
  • Is the Thermos leak proof?  Yes the one that I purchased certainly is, the lid screws on making it liquid tight.

How to use a Thermos for school lunches

  1. Warm up thermos by filling it with boiling water and allow to sit for 10 minutes, empty water.
  2. Fill Thermos with hot contents (eg, hot noodles)
  3. Secure lid tight, place in lunch bag and remember to include a spoon/fork.

Ideas to include for hot school lunches

chicken soup

left overs

Fried Rice

Thank you to all the readers that shared their ideas for hot school lunches, I love how this community can share awesome ideas.

Do you pack hot lunches for your kids?  What are their favourite hot lunches?

Where you can buy a Thermos

In store at Kmart


Lime Tree Kids



Howards Storage World

Living Eco

Not Another Baby Shop

Back to School Tips 600
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  • Ness

    my kids have taken heaps of outside the box hot things in their thermos’
    chicken drumsticks
    homemade pizza sliced into strips
    spring rolls
    hot dogs (put the sausage in the thermos and send the fixings in a lunch box)
    dim sims
    hot roast sandwiches cut into strips
    fish fingers
    they have taken a lot of the stuff on your list too :o) I love sending a hot lunch on a yucky cold day :o)ReplyCancel

    • Anne W

      We take hotdogs in a thermos when we go to the footy or otherwise out and about on a cold day! I preheat the thermos and the hotdogs, then refill the thermos with fresh boiling water and put the dogs in. A bag of rolls, bottle of sauce (and if we’re feeling fancy, a ziplock bag with grated cheese!) and we’re good to go with a hot meal/snack for a lot less than the food outlets would charge.:-)ReplyCancel

      • Anne W

        Just remember to take some tongs or at least a fork so you can get the dogs out of the water – burnt fingers aren’t fun and nor is trying to pour the water out on the ground and pouring out the hotdogs accidentally as well…ReplyCancel

  • Holly Kyte

    i love this idea, my only fear is that my kids will complain and not eat it, they are use to sandwiches fruit and a snack. They are a bit fussy. My boy is 7, he may like the idea, and my girl is 5.
    The other problem is the teacher once complained when i didnt pack a sandwich.ReplyCancel

    • On what grounds did the teacher complain???
      This sort of thing boggles my mind. I will not let a teacher dictate to me what to give MY children for lunch. Especially when I don’t agree with their version of healthy.ReplyCancel

  • Nat

    When I was in school mum often packed me a thermos. After about the third time it spilled all through my bag, she started to pack a plastic mug and a packet of cup-of-soup instead. At lunch I’d take it to the tuckshop and they’d fill the cup with boiling water. A great alternative to a thermos – lighter weight and no spills. Cup-of-soup is really cheap too!ReplyCancel

  • AngPj

    I got some similar Smash thermoses at Big W this week for $8.88. Butterfly or skull pictures on them.ReplyCancel

  • Deb

    Where do you buy the nudie drink poppers..??ReplyCancel

  • Michelle @ Jarrah Jungle

    Is it bad to admit that while Iv been renovating my kitchen Iv had a few sneaky bowls of 2 minute noodles because its the only thing I can be bothered cooking in the garage aka makeshift kitchen! I agree its not the healthiest meal but kids (and me!) like them and their quick, cheap and easy so why not. I love the idea of the thermos what a smart hubby you have, should put him onto lunch duty more often :)ReplyCancel

    • Natalie

      I tried in the same Kmart thermos 2 min noodles as a trial on a weekend. They were gross. Hard and stuck and gluggy. Will try our pea and ham next time.ReplyCancel

  • Jaime Humphrey

    Hi Kat I love this idea but was wondering does the food go off sitting it that wrarm temp for a few hours don’t want to make my girls sick. Also have you ever tried a hot dog??ReplyCancel


      I have the same reservations….but then I think back to my school days when I used to take in ham and cheese sandwiches. I never got sick, even though these days I fear they would need to be refrigerated to be safe. I think it should be fine to take hot food in a thermos. And did you read the posts further down regarding hotdogs? xxxReplyCancel

  • Trish

    Some schools have an issue with the hot water, our school doesn’t allow noodles or cup-a-soups. May pay to check with your schoolReplyCancel

  • paperwhite

    We have started experimenting with this too. just be warned that the hot stuff is still REALLY hot at lunchtime, DS burned his mouth on chicken soup and he’s now a bit shy of the whole idea.ReplyCancel

  • Sherilee

    My kids have had hot soup but I hadn’t thought of fried rice, etc. Am curious how you have hot Cheerios though….
    You could easily do 2 min noodles with a few frozen peas and corn thrown in to add a healthier content. Just a thought.ReplyCancel

  • Susan

    Try cooking BBQ sausages and popping them in the flask. Our kids (youngest now 15) still ask for them on car trips that start early in the morning!!ReplyCancel

    • thats a fantastic one to add to the list Susan, great idea, my kids love left over BBQ sausagesReplyCancel

      • Kathy

        my daughter loves beef and broccoli from our local Chinese takeout in her thermos or a bowl of their wonton soup.ReplyCancel

  • Leanne Renehan

    My kids love cocktail franks in their thermos. I pop them in boiling water for about 10 minutes then drain them and seal the thermos. Kids say they are perfect temp at lunch. We drain the water from noodles when they take them too.
    I have also sent party pies once as well and my daughter loved them.
    My kids get lunch orders very rarely so it is a great way to give them a bit of a ‘junk’ treat once in a while.ReplyCancel

    • I gave my kids a few in their thermo last week and they loved it. It is a great treat to occasionally have.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda

    We toss chicken nuggets, taquitos & pizza bites in ours as well. Sometimes I toss a little napkin or something to absorb any moisture but kids love it! ReplyCancel

  • mumbo

    I have used these little Thermos’ for years (3girls – 16,15,10yrs) they are great for hot lunches – noodles, leftover spag’bol’, pasta or stews.
    I have also successfully used them for fruit salad in summer. Cut up a big bowl of fruit salad which will last 2/3 days if not eaten beforehand, then in the morning when I get up to pack lunches 1st thing is to place the Thermos’ in the freezer, for say 1/2hr while getting all other jobs/things organised. Come back and scoop some fruit salad into the pot, seal & pack. My girls love this cool alternative to sanga’s on a hot day.ReplyCancel

  • Vannessa Bradbury

    my dear daughter loves cup a soups and quite often takes them in her thermos to schoolReplyCancel

  • Melissa

    Just wondering how long it is safe to leave something like chicken nuggets in a thermos before it is unsafe to eat?ReplyCancel

    • Tony

      I think it depends on the temperature; if things are kept nice and hot then they should easily survive until lunchtime. The ‘danger zone’ is keeping food lukewarm for long periods (35-40 deg C, around human body temperature) because that’s when dangerous bacteria thrive.

      If food comes home uneaten, I’d throw it out.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa West

    Taco meat in the thermos and send the “fixings” for ‘make your own tacos’.ReplyCancel

    • yum, great idea!ReplyCancel

      • Michelle

        My Mr 15 now makes his own Risotto in the thermomix and takes it hot to school for lunch in a thermos. Makes the morning routine much easier.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca Macdonald

    I’m wondering about things like chicken nuggets and grilled cheese. These are some of my picky eater’s favorites, but I’m worried they will be soggy by lunchtime. He will NOT eat a sandwich (unless it’s grilled cheese), so packing lunch is tricky.

    Among my go-to meals are left over pasta, ramen (no liquid, just a sprinkle of Parmesan) and peanut butter and crackers (I use medicine cups for the PB).ReplyCancel

    • Things like nuggets and grilled cheese are at risk of going soggy if condensation starts to build up. Would he eat them cold? It would just be like cold chicken cuts. And if you added a little sauce to the grilled cheese, just call it cold pizza 😉ReplyCancel

    • Ellena

      I heard that if you make grilled cheese sandwiches just let them cool completely before storing in their lunch boxes. That way condensation won’t build and it will still taste good by lunch.ReplyCancel

  • paperwhite

    a hot sausage in the thermos, and a buttered hotdog bun in the lunch boxReplyCancel

  • Karen

    My son loves leftovers in his thermos bowl. To those complaining about the instant noodles, please stop the negativity. Whilst I personally don’t buy them (high salt content) do you have to police other people’s choices all the time? I agree with Kat, gesture outweighed concerns for ONE day people. Great ideas as always Kat.ReplyCancel

    • Katrina

      Thanks Karen, yes I haven’t given the kids noodles for school, like you said happy with the gesture. But the kids are really love the packed hot lunches so far this winter, it great to have something different than sandwiches 😉ReplyCancel

  • Toni O'Keeffe

    I sent a hot lunch for my child (prep) and she was teased by the other children?
    I explained I love her enough to want her to have a toastie warm lunch on a cold day xReplyCancel

  • Catherine Francis

    My kids took these today and had left over chicken stir fry … they usually take noodles or soup and also and PP said a red sausage and then send along a hot dog roll ReplyCancel

  • Becc

    Sorry to revive an old post lol – I’m starting to try and prepare for my eldest son going to school next year, and was wondering how you pack all of the containers/thermos/drink? Do you just have them loose in their school bag or is there a lunch bag you can recommend to put them all in?
    Probably sounds like a common sense thing – but we’ve never done the school lunch thing and all I ever had was a sandwich in a lunch box 😉

  • […] Hot Lunch Options for School Lunch from Organised Housewife. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] A sandwich is our typical go-to lunch item, but there are days that I change it up by using a tortilla wrap or bread roll.  The kids also really enjoy  salads through summer, like this pasta salad and hot food through winter. […]ReplyCancel

  • Tracey

    my two absolutely love steamed dim sim in their flasks. I cook them as the kids eat their breakfasts and I warm the flask at the same time. My son is a fussy eater, but loves these!ReplyCancel

  • Alison

    My son took little meat pies in his thermos for lunch but he has just come home from school and said they were soggy.
    What can I do to stop soggy meatpies?ReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      Hi Alison, Sounds like they are sweeting in the thermos, i would try wrapping them in Alfoil first and then putting them in the thermos.ReplyCancel

  • Tammy Mackinnon

    My son loves taking his thermos to school. His favourite is left over spag bol or casserole, but he also loves a brown rice (the Uncle Bens single serve in a pouch) with flavoured or plain tuna (with the plain I add a splash of soy sauce). The thermos came from Anaconda and has been fantastic as he not too fond of sandwiches!ReplyCancel

  • Miranda

    I love your Facebook page. The thermos is a great idea. However as 2 min noodle burns are one of the top causes of child related burn injuries in NSW. Perhaps sticking to other hot meals in the thermos would be safer. Not trying to be negative, just a thought from a dedicated burns nurse and mother. Perhaps drain the water prior to sending to school. thanks for sharing all your great ideas. Look forward to the next posts.ReplyCancel

  • Jess

    What a wonderful idea! My eldest is starting school next year so I will have to bookmark all this stuff. Question: if you send last night’s leftovers in a thermos would you heat it in the microwave then put it into the pre warmed thermos? I can’t quite figure it out unless the food is freshly cooked when you put it in.

    In saying this the few times my mum packed me a thermos when it was at school 20 years ago I loved it!ReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      Hi Jess, yes I would take the left overs out of the fridge and reheat them like you are just about to eat them, then place into a pre-warmed thermos. Will be delciously warm for the kids to eat at lunch.ReplyCancel

  • Danielle

    When my kids go to things like afternoon rehearsals followed by a night-time performance, I send them with a wide-mouthed thermos for their dinner break. They like the Continental side dish pasta range (carbonara, 3 cheeses, etc), and when I cook it I add frozen peas and corn, and a small tin of plain tuna. Has the benefits of being a pale colour too, in case it spills on their clothes! We have done the 2 minute noodle thing, and as I worry about the boiling water I just put a bit in the bottom to help keep it warm but not boiling, and not enough to spill and burn.ReplyCancel

  • Suzy

    Love the idea of using a thermos for lunch. Better late than never. I’ll try it out on my 15yr old son but need to purchase one first. Thank you all for sharing your wonderful tips and ideas.ReplyCancel

  • Stefanie Hernandez

    So if I pack hot leftovers in a thermos that’s had boiling water in it, let’s say her lunch is at 1. That’s usually the latest. And I’ve packed it at 7:15. It would be safe to eat at that time? She is begging me to pack a thermos this year but I’m so scared of making her sick.ReplyCancel

    • Kate - Kat's Assistant

      Should be fine, Stephanie. The thermos keeps it to temperature, my kids have been taking their’s for a few years now and no problems.ReplyCancel

  • These is a good idea, at least kids can still eat their lunch hot and fresh.ReplyCancel

  • Eating your lunch while it’s ti;; hot is a very good idea.ReplyCancel

  • Hi, you all had such lovely post and I now have some great ideas! I am loathe to send the same thing over and over. I would like to add that my kids love “hot cereal” or quick oats as some call them. I just boil my kettle put 1/3c quick oats, a dash of vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp cinnamon 1 tbsp of brown sugar or maple syrup into the thermos and pour 2/3c boiling water on top and seal. Of course you can use hot milk instead. It is perfectly warm and soft by lunch. And when I need to cheat I put milk in the thermos and cereal in a Tupperware. They love it as a treat! It has saved us some days.ReplyCancel

    • Katrina - The Organised Housewife

      Great idea, I love breakfast for lunch or dinner, usually it’s eggs on toast for us, but I love oats and so do my kids, this is a great idea thanks Mur.ReplyCancel

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