What Can You Pack in a Thermos for a Child's Lunch?

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Kids will easily get bored of the same old school lunches, so whenever you want to give your child a break from routine, ditch the tuna sandwich or PB&J and pack a hot lunch in a thermos. The choices are practically endless, ranging from warmed-up leftovers to soups, stews and hot beverages, and all add some variety to your child's school lunch.


Some types of food work better than others when packed in a thermos. Stews, soups, chilis and casseroles all travel well. Pastas, on the other hand, have a tendency to become gooey, and Asian-style noodles and rice will soak up the liquid and swell up. If you have a slow cooker, you can prepare the meal the night before. Let meat, vegetables and seasoning mix simmer overnight. In the morning, simply transfer the piping-hot food straight into the thermos and lunch is ready to go.

Stews and Chilis

Not only does a thermos allow you to bring more variety to your child’s school lunches, but also you can push her culinary boundaries by offering new things to try. A thick stew with chunks of beef or chicken simmered with vegetables can be a hearty, nutritious lunch. Your child may also enjoy turkey chili with onions and black beans or a tuna noodle casserole. You can also introduce different types of ethnic food, such as Asian and Indian curries.


Soup is a great choice during the colder months. The easiest option is to heat up leftover soup and fill your child’s thermos in the morning. Add some leftover dinner rolls, which kids can dip into their soup. Provide some extra flair to ordinary tomato soup by packing some shredded cheese, fish-shaped crackers and pepperoni slices in a plastic container so the child can add them himself and make pizza soup. In addition to soups your child already enjoys, you can also introduce new soups, such as a chili-corn soup, creamy chicken chowder or hamburger soup, containing ground beef, carrots, peas and elbow macaroni.

Hot Lunch Ideas

If you have leftovers from a previous meal, these foods can be transformed into fun hot lunches. For example, leftover eggplant parmigiana can be enhanced by adding peas and diced ham. Hot beverages can also be poured into a thermos container; on a cold winter day, your child will be thrilled to open up her thermos and find hot chocolate or apple cider.