10 of the best hot lunch ideas for kids to take to school

Family Food 27 Feb 24 By

These dishes are perfect for insulated food containers.

Ideal for insulated containers!

As the weather cools down it’s the perfect time to reconsider the lunches that we’re sending to school each day. Sandwiches and salads can take a break as we look for heartier ways to keep their bellies warm on wintry days.

Thanks to clever insulated lunch containers, you can safely send warm food to school that will stay warm and inviting by the time lunch rolls around. Yum!

How to use an insulated lunch container

Insulated thermos style containers are perfect for sending a warm lunch to school. Here’s how to make sure that your child’s lunch stays warm until lunch time.

  • Pre-heat your container by filling it with boiling water, sealing it with the lid and allowing to sit for 5-10 minutes while you do the rest of your lunch prep.
  • When ready, empty out the water and fill your now warm container with the hot lunch food of your choice. We share some great options in the gallery below.
  • Secure the lid of the container nice and tight while the food is still hot (food will cool down a little before lunch time, but for very young children you might want to ask their teacher to open up the container for them).
  • Pop the container in their lunch bag and don’t forget to include cutlery. Use disposable cutlery if you’re worried about it not making it home!

10 belly warmers to send for school lunch

Kid friendly fried rice

Fried Rice

Whether you make a batch of fresh fried rice, or heat up a rice pouch from the pantry and mix through some tinned tuna and corn, a warm ricey lunch is a perfect thermos filler!

Plus fried rice is the perfect way to use up leftover rice. A few minutes in the frypan, together with some fresh and healthy ingredients, and you’ll soon have a filling and healthy dish for the kids.

Cauli mac and cheese for a hot school lunch

Mac and cheese

Make it from scratch or take advantage of the supermarket options, either way their bellies will be full and warm and ready to learn after lunch.

This cauliflower version is a fun way to turn the classic on its head and sneak in some extra nutrition.

Bowls of chicken and sweetcorn soup for a hot school lunch


Opening up a thermos to warm steamy soup is such a fun break from sandwiches that your kids will be asking for it over and over again!

We’ve rounded up some of the best chicken soup recipes here, but a good old boiled jug and packet mix from the pantry does the trick just as well.

Pizza fingers for hot school lunch

Pizza fingers

Forget triangles, slice their favourite pizza into strips and store in a thermos for a warm pizza lunch that their classmates will envy.

Small container of chicken nuggets next to a glass of milk

Chicken nuggets

A firm favourite in this house, warm chicken nuggets are such a treat and easy for little fingers to manage at lunch time. Plus, they’re the perfect size to stack up in a thermos to keep them warm. not to mention easy, easy, easy!

Bowl of bolognese next to spaghetti

Spaghetti bolognese

This fan-fave never fails at dinner time and the same goes when it comes to lunch.

Spaghetti bolognese and insulated lunch containers are a match made in heaven, but fair warning, you’re going to make your child’s teacher’s tummy rumble when that container is opened!

Small pile of mini sausage rolls

Mini sausage rolls

Batch make these mini sausage rolls to warm up when needed, particularly frosty school mornings.

Red bean and mushroom nachos


Fill a warm thermos with their favourite corn chips and add cheese, which will melt by the time lunch comes around, and you’ve got a simple nachos for fussy eaters.

Obviously you can level that up by adding their favourite bean or meat mix too, yum!

Top down view of a bowl of scrambled eggs

Scrambled eggs

Warm, nutritious and the perfect fuel to keep them learning after lunch, scrambled eggs make for the perfect thermos food.

Add bacon and croutons for a really fun lunch.

Top down view of a bowl of tuna pasta


Pasta with butter, pasta with pesto, pasta with tuna or veggies… the options are endless when it comes to making quick, simple pasta for lunch!

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