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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

Tupperware – Thermos Flask

Lime Tree Kids



Howards Storage World

Living Eco

Not Another Baby Shop

yellow divider

lunchbox planner printable

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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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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