Hot School Lunch Ideas for Kids

Tasty hot school lunch ideas for kids, as well as kid-friendly insulated food jars and Thermos’ that are perfect for packing in the school bag – PLUS get a FREE ebook with every purchase from our insulated food jar range!

It’s currently quite cold on the Gold Coast, which is why my family is enjoying warmer dishes for dinner – and this means leftovers for lunch!

Most of these ideas are good dinner ideas that can easily be used for lunch leftovers. My kids always loved taking lunch in their Thermos! It keeps it warm until lunchtime, plus it is something fun and different from sandwiches.


Did you know that the insulated food jar needs to be prepped ready for your hot food?


Warm-up your Thermos by filling it with boiling water and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Empty water.


Fill Thermos with hot contents (eg, hot noodles, hot dinner leftovers, etc). It’s okay to make this very hot, as it will cool slightly by lunchtime


Secure lid tight, place in lunch bag and remember to include a spoon/fork.


Food will be perfectly warm for lunch!

Insulated food jars are not just for winter...they’re also brilliant in summer for keeping food such as salads, yoghurt and chopped fruit cool and refreshing. To prep your food jar for cold food, simply use cold water instead of hot.


Investing in a good quality, reusable insulated food flask or Thermos for your kids, is a great way to send them to school each day with a deliciously hot winter meal. It’s also an environmentally conscious alternative to plastic containers.


When you purchase any product from our insulated food jar range, you get a FREE ebook jam-packed with hot lunch ideas and recipes that are perfect for popping in the Thermos ready for school or work.

Insulated food jars and Thermos’ that are made just for kids, are also particularly fabulous for children with special needs or particular diets. They’re easy to open, and they allow parents to provide a much larger range of lunch options that cater to their child’s individual needs.

Oasis Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Food Flask 450mL

These fantastic Oasis Stainless Steel Insulated Food Flasks 450mL have a really wide mouth which is ideal for easy access when you’re putting hot food inside. They’re stainless steel with a silicone seal so they won’t leak and the outside is cool to the touch. The metallic finish is really attractive and is currently available in Blush, Spearmint and Light Blue. This one comes in a 450mL size which is perfect for most kids at lunchtime. It stays warm for up to 7 hours and cold for up to 9 hours.

Montiico Insulated Food Jar

The Montiico Insulated Food Jar offers five hours of warming. Your child’s lunch will stay warm until lunch time, but the surface isn’t hot to touch. This one also has a flip-up handle which is handy and a super easy opening for little hands. This one has 400mL capacity and comes in Kiwi (pictured) or Blueberry.

Oasis Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Food Flask 800mL

For teenagers, adults or big appetites, upgrade your food flask to a larger capacity with the Oasis Insulated Food Flask 800mL. With a double wall, the food stays warm for longer. The foldable spoon is super handy on the run and the lid can also be used as a bowl. Stays hot up to 12 hours.


MEATBALLS – A hearty lunch idea. Serve with pasta or vegetables. Find my range of meatball recipe here.

PASTA – Pasta bakes or one-pan pasta dishes make great re-heatable lunches. My favourite is beef macaroni, find my recipe here.

CHICKEN NUGGETS – In the morning when you’re packing the kids’ lunches, put some nuggets in the oven, pop into a Thermos and send to school with a little tub of tomato sauce.

FRIED RICE – This would have to be one of my kids favourites! My recipe is really easy and is great for using up any vegetables you have in the fridge. Find my recipe here.

MACARONI AND CHEESE – Make your own or purchase from the supermarket. To make it a little more nutritious add some carrot, capsicum, celery and stir through some meat such as ham, chicken or mince. Find my Mac and Cheese recipe here.

There are so many recipes that are perfect for popping in an insulated food container and taking to work or school – the options are near endless! This is why I’ve bundled a whole bunch of hot lunch recipe ideas into an ebook that’s FREE to anyone who purchases a product from our insulated food jar range!

What hot food do you pack your kids for school?


We offer a huge variety of hand-selected organisation, storage, cleaning, kitchenwares, homewares and more all to help make life easier at home, all delivered to your door.

Lunch Box Recipe Cookbook available at OrganisedHQ
Lunch Box Recipes Cookbook
Montiico Insulated Food Jar for hot school lunches. Available at OrganisedHQ.
Montiico Insulated Food Jar 450mL Kiwi
Oasis insulated food jars for hot school lunches. Available at OrganisedHQ.
Oasis Stainless Steel Insulated Food Jars 800mL

31 quick and easy school lunchbox ideas to mix things up and to keep you and your kids happy! Lunch boxes snacks can become a bit repetitive and you can feel like you’re running out of ideas to keep your kids interested. Continue Reading

You may also like


Anne June 3, 2015 - 6:37 AM

This is brilliant!! I love this idea. My partner is always complaining he can’t take leftovers to work as the microwaves are never available and by the time he gets to it, lunch time is over. I will be using this idea for him going forward.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Your ideas are amazing.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 3, 2015 - 8:33 AM

Oohh thank you, Anne.:) It is such a great idea for hubby’s and they too get a nice warm lunch.:) Hope your hubby enjoys it x

Hannah June 3, 2015 - 6:51 AM

Thank you! I use a lot of the kids lunch ideas for myself as an adult to take to work 🙂 Our toastie machine is extremely neglected so it’s hard to find something yummy to bring to work to enjoy on a cold day (like today)!

Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 3, 2015 - 8:34 AM

I agree Hannah, nothng better than taking a nice warm lunch on these oh so chilly days.:)

Wendy June 3, 2015 - 10:18 AM

Love the idea for winter school lunches but wondered if the lids are easy enough for young ones to open if they say you must secure the kids tightly??

Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 3, 2015 - 11:53 AM

Wendy my kids haven’t had any issues with getting the lids off, i think they should be fine for younger ones too. I don’t tighten them overly tight either.

tanya November 28, 2015 - 5:39 AM

My son is 4.5 and will only eat hot foods. We’ve been using a thermos all preK. Chx nuggets, mac n chz, soup, etc have been our go to bc his school is peanut free.

Olicia January 7, 2016 - 11:37 AM

The niggets don’t get soggy?!?

Shelby August 5, 2016 - 1:29 PM

stick some paper towel in the bottom to soak up any extra moisture. 😀

Amy August 20, 2015 - 6:47 AM

My youngest has trouble with the lids but the teacher always helps 🙂

Norlin June 3, 2015 - 11:39 AM

OMG! Do you know that I just realised THAT’S how you use a thermos??? I didn’t realise you have to fill it in with hot water to set the temperature first! No wonder the food in my kids thermos didn’t stay hot for long. We’ve abandoned the thermos (sitting in my cupboard) but it looks like it’ll be out again!! Thank you for sharing that tip.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 3, 2015 - 11:56 AM

Ooh Norlin don’t worry i didn’t know either! The ones from Kmart don’t come with instructions. You are not alone x

Nicole @ The Builder's Wife June 3, 2015 - 2:16 PM

My kids have a hot lunch at least 3 times a week. We started this when we stopped eating sandwiches for lunch. Most days it’s leftovers from the night before, although we do also do lots of fried rice, it’s a family fav. xx

Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 5, 2015 - 9:15 AM

I think it is nice for them to have something warm in their bellies on those really cold days too Nicole.:)

Caley June 3, 2015 - 4:15 PM

These are all such great ideas and I’ve never seen a lunch thermos before… My little toddler is still a little young for these treats but so perfect to remember for the future x

Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 5, 2015 - 9:16 AM

Absolutley Caley.:)

Rebecca June 3, 2015 - 4:18 PM

My son doesn’t like sandwiches so hes been enjoying taking a thermos of hot food. Today meat and vegetables soup just like his Nana makes, with a bread roll.
Thanks for some new ideas, I’m sure he will enjoy them over the next few weeks.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 5, 2015 - 9:18 AM

Ooh that sounds like a delicious lunch, Rebecca! I must say my kiddies get over sandwiches too

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella June 3, 2015 - 7:55 PM

I’ve never thought of doing this for hubby but I might have to start given how cold it is here in Sydney! 😀

Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 5, 2015 - 9:19 AM

Ooh yes i imagine it is freezing down there, Lorraine! It has been so cold on the Gold Coast the last few days. I am sure hubby will enjoy his nice warm lunches.:)

Liisa June 3, 2015 - 8:42 PM

I’ve never had any success with keeping nuggets warm/hot & not going soggy or rubbery. Any tips? The only things my kids would probably take in a thermos are nuggets, sausages or meatballs, but even the sausages went cold.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 5, 2015 - 9:22 AM

Hmm i’m not sure on how to stop the nuggets from going soggy, great question Liisa!
Quick question did you heat the thermos up first? Pouring boiling water in and leave for 10 minutes, it should them stay hot most of the day.

Liisa June 7, 2015 - 7:10 AM

Yes, I always heat with boiling water first. It may just be that Nuggets are unsuitable, as when the steam leaves them but is contained in the thermos, it makes them soggy. If anyone finds a solution is love to know!

Alex June 7, 2015 - 2:12 PM

Piece of bread in the bottom to absorb the moisture!

Alex June 7, 2015 - 2:13 PM

slice of bread in the top &/or bottom to absorb the moisture 🙂

Hayley m June 11, 2015 - 9:27 AM

Wrap them in paper towel & foil?

Lexx February 4, 2016 - 8:22 AM

I think I actually read somewhere if you put a paper towel on the bottom it helps soak the moisture instead of going to the nuggets, or maybe less. I havent tried it since I dont pack my baby lunch yet, I will soon try it though lol.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 4, 2016 - 9:05 PM

Great tip thank you Lexx 🙂

Shae October 5, 2015 - 9:27 AM

I HAVE discovered how to make the nuggets from going soggy, and it’s very easy.
Just put your piping hot water in the thermos for about 5 mins or more, like usual, then do a quick wipe inside with a paper towel and then take a new, dry paper towel (I use 1 sheet from the select a size types) and wad it up and put it in the bottom of the thermos, then add your cooked chicken nuggets on top of the paper towel. The paper towel absorbs all the moisture and leaves the chicken nuggets moist, but not soggy, just like you made them at home.
My daughter LOVES them and says they are not soggy at all 🙂

Liisa October 5, 2015 - 10:06 AM

Awesome! That makes sense. I’ll definitely give the paper towel a go. Thank you!

Olivia January 7, 2016 - 11:09 PM

Thanks, I will give this a try!!!!

[email protected] Urban Mum June 5, 2015 - 10:54 AM

Great ideas, we have been doing hot lunches for a few weeks as already brrrr, cold in Sydney. I love the fried rice idea – just tend to stick to mince and soup, the kids will be thrilled to have me expand my repertoire…I have the thermos range and they are super…I do recall from my Boarding School days on The Coast that it can get mighty chilly up there too, stay warm..x

Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 5, 2015 - 12:26 PM

Thanks Monique.:) Yes the mornings are super chilly.:) My kids love fried rice in their thermos, soups are a big hit too. Just a nice variation and to give them a break from sandwiches, i can’t blame them i tend to get a tired of sandwiches too.:) x

Leah June 6, 2015 - 9:46 AM

One thing my girls love are marinated chicken wingettes and drumettes. Taste great hot or cold.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 9, 2015 - 8:54 AM

Ooh sounds delicious, what a yummy lunch to take to school.:)

Brend August 22, 2016 - 10:34 AM

Hi. Great Idea. Can you share the recipe? Thanks!

Emma @ My Family Meals June 8, 2015 - 11:56 AM

You have inspired me to make extra dinners and send it warmed up for the kids school lunches seeing that its cooking down so much. I’m excited to get this happening! (But I need to buy a thermos). The Bento website says that theirs are out of stock just now. What is the best one to keep the food warm/hot and what size would you recommend for an 8 year old? Looks like it comes in the 240 and 500ml size ..

Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 9, 2015 - 8:59 AM

Hi Emma, the Bento ones are great! You can pre order them but i also know that there is another shipment arriving this week, i would get the 500ml thats the size my kids take.:)

Emma @ My Family Meals June 12, 2015 - 7:07 PM

OK. Thermos (x2) all purchased. Gave some leftover spaghetti Bolognese a try today – was a HUGE hit. I think I might try your curried sausages next. I have a quite few recipes on my site that would be good too – some pasta bakes, mild lamb curry, meatballs etc. Thanks for the inspiration Katrina.

Sarah June 13, 2015 - 8:12 AM

wonderful idea! I’m just wondering would it still keep the food at a safe level to be eaten hours later? Would be for a toddler so don’t know if you have to be a little more cautious? Also any experience with particular brands that seem to hold the heat better? Thanks so much

Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 15, 2015 - 8:39 AM

Hi Sarah, i haven’t had any worries with any of mine. The Kmart one is also great too. The food stays lovely and hot most of the day so even when eaten at lunch time.

Chontell July 22, 2015 - 7:19 PM

This is great!
I’ve used the Kmart brand for the last 2 years for my girls (now 10 and 12). They LOVE having a hot lunch. Devilled Sausages are a big fav, and the both really enjoy Chicken and Chorizo Stew. I also use them in Summer, to send smoothies for them. I keep them in the freezer, fill with the smoothie, pop back in the freezer, and they grab them on the way to school.

Chantel September 1, 2015 - 1:46 PM

i love this!! Thank you so much for the ideas and the change of thought process. My three kids are starting at a new school this year that requires us to pack a lunch every day. I have wanted to have some new ideas so lunch isn’t totally boring. Thanks

Christina Aleman November 25, 2015 - 10:24 PM

I love the idea of putting the prepared food into a thermos to satay hot. This way they can still eat their pack lunch hot and fresh.

randi michelle December 10, 2015 - 5:20 AM

This is perfect!!my kids do not like the schools food but I hated the idea of them eating sandwhiches daily!! Now they can enjoy a hot meal!! Thanks ladies!!

Katrina - The Organised Housewife December 14, 2015 - 8:17 PM

glad these ideas can help 🙂

Erin December 13, 2015 - 2:12 PM

Other ideas: Chili. Risotto. Pad Thai noodles.

Ethena January 4, 2016 - 4:50 AM

This question may sound like a,”duh” but I have to ask: ” do you make the hot lunch the night before and put it in the container or wait until the morning to warm and then fill the container”? Thanks

Ethena January 4, 2016 - 4:51 AM

This question may sound like a,”duh” but I have to ask: ” do you make the hot lunch the night before and put it in the container or wait until the morning to warm and then fill the container”? Thanks

Olivia January 7, 2016 - 11:12 PM

We reheat leftovers in the morning typically. You will want to put hot food into a hot thermos to send in the morning, so either cook it in the morning or reheat.

Evangeline January 31, 2016 - 5:19 AM

I recently started doing this again for my kiddo. I cook a few meals over the weekends and freeze them in 1 or 2 cup containers. I take one out to thaw in the fridge each night, and heat it up for his thermos lunch each morning. He loves it! Thanks for the different food ideas! I’ve been sending the same 3 or 4 dishes for awhile now and we needed something new.

Karen May 30, 2016 - 1:29 PM

Home made mini quiches work well also. I heat up the flask with boiling water for 10 mins, wipe dry, put freshpaper towel scrunched up in the base of the flask and fit 3 quiches (that have been heated in the microwave from frozen) on top. Stay warm for at least 6 hours and don’t go soggy as the paper towel absorbs any moisture.

Alisa May 30, 2016 - 1:47 PM

I’m having lunch box envy! Don’t have kids to make lunch for, but I totally wish my school lunches were this delicious all those years ago 🙂

Juli May 30, 2016 - 3:10 PM

When making macaroni cheese I always stir in either peeled grated zucchini (once peeled it’s invisible) or cooked puréed cauliflower ((also invisible in cheese sauce)

Katrina - The Organised Housewife May 31, 2016 - 9:38 AM

smuggling in the veggies is a fabulous idea Juli!

Betty jo July 12, 2016 - 7:44 AM

I know this is an old post, but just wondering about fried rice is it made the night before and nuked in the morning then put in a warmed thermos?

Yuds G July 27, 2016 - 10:43 AM

These are all very great ideas. My kid will be starting kindergarten and I know for sure I don’t want him eating school lunch. I’ve been practicing for the past two weeks by placing hot meals in the thermo and making him open it to test it, it’s worked out so far. I think I read 1 mommy say she sends warm lunches a few days a week, I think that is an idea I will def steal as well. Thanks for these delicious meal option, we have def benefit from this.

Lorena August 10, 2016 - 2:55 PM

Have any of you had your child’s yam toy their meal isn’t even warm anymore arty lunch time? I have a 13 dollar Thermos brand, that is supposed to keep hot for 5 hours, but it’s not even warm. I warm up at around 7:20 and lunch is around noon. You would think it would at least be warm. What am I doing wrong?

Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 11, 2016 - 10:57 AM

do you add boiling water to the thermos before adding in the warm food? Empty the water out before putting in the food of course 🙂

MICHELLE May 25, 2021 - 10:57 PM

Food in a thermos needs to have sufficient liquid to remain hot like soups, stews and curries. Foods without liquid will cool and be unsafe to eat even when you preheat the thermos (which is essential). I’m not sure how nuggets, fried rice etc stay at a temperature that is safe to eat. Research safe food temperatures and how to use the thermos safely. If you are not sure, test at home first. Young kids will say it’s still warm when it actually isn’t hot enough to be safe.

Katy September 13, 2016 - 2:40 AM

Did anyone have luck with the Mac n cheese?

Vanessa Tran December 23, 2017 - 5:54 AM

Thanks Kat! I always struggle with prepare the kids lunch as they get bored from taking sandwiches to school almost everyday. Canteen’s hot food are not that healthy. This is a great idea for leftover dinner.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 8, 2018 - 2:40 PM

Thanks Vanessa. Glad you have gathered some ideas here.

Kelly June 18, 2018 - 2:01 PM

Hi! My 3 1/2 yr old loves plain rice. I flip the rice cooker on when we get up and load up her little skip hop lunch jar before daycare and add a packet of nori or furikake (sprinkles for rice) to her lunchbox. Also for older kids I heard of putting frankfurters in boiling water and they assemble the cooked hotdog at school- but maybe cocktail wieners for little would work like the chicken nuggets.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 20, 2018 - 8:58 AM

great ideas! Thank you for sharing 🙂

Katy February 25, 2019 - 1:49 PM

My teenage daughter much prefers hot food, especially in the winter. Definitely saving this article!

Nancy August 20, 2019 - 8:58 AM

What type of thermos is the pink pictured with the chow main?

Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 20, 2019 - 3:54 PM

Hi Nancy, unfortunately this one has been discontinued, however you might like one of these ones instead: or – hope this helps 🙂 Kat x

Laura August 23, 2019 - 5:56 PM

Lovely ideas thank you!
Anyone got any suggestions what to serve with the chicken nuggets? Thanks!

Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 26, 2019 - 9:22 AM

Laura my kids used to love the nuggets just with sauce. Of course I would always balance out their lunchboxes with some fruit and veggies too. Let me know what you decide to serve your nuggets with 🙂 Kat x


Leave a Comment