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If your kids are going back to school on a hybrid or full, in-person model, sandwiches are an easy, go-to option but there are also a ton of hot lunch ideas for school your kids will love.

While the CDC recommends frequent hand washing throughout the day—and especially before lunch— eating with a fork or spoon may be safer than eating a sandwich which can easily introduce coronavirus from germ-filled fingers, Alison Galvani, PhD, Director, Yale Center for Infectious Disease Modeling and Analysis (CIDMA) said in this video.

Fortunately, there are a ton of hot lunch ideas for school and they don’t require additional time in the kitchen.

In this post, I’ll cover:

  1. The benefits of packing hot school lunches for kids.
  2. How to use a thermos to pack hot food and my favorite lunch products.
  3. Hot lunch ideas for school: soups, stews, pasta and rice dishes, and more!

BENEFITS OF PACKING HOT SCHOOL LUNCHES

I’ve always been a fan of packing hot lunches for my kids because it’s one of the best ways to encourage healthy eating habits.

Packing hot lunches for school is a great opportunity to introduce a variety of fruits, vegetables and new foods—which studies show encourages kids to make healthy choices.

When the weather gets cooler, you can also pack warm foods like soups and stews that are healthy, delicious and filling.

Another reason I love packing hot lunches for school is that it’s an easy way to re-purpose leftovers, save time, save money on groceries and reduce food waste.

HOW TO USE A THERMOS FOR HOT FOOD

Once you have some hot lunch ideas for school, it’s surprisingly simple to pull them together.

I recommend using a thermos to keep food warm for several hours. Then, follow these easy steps:

1. Fill up the thermos with hot water and wait 15 minutes. You can boil or heat up the water in the microwave when you wake up in the morning and in the meantime, make breakfast or go about your morning routine.

2. Pour out the water.

3. Heat up the food and add it to the thermos. Close the lid right away and pack it up.

PRODUCTS FOR HOT SCHOOL LUNCHES

The Thermos Funtainer 10 Ounce Food Jar is the one I use for my kids to bring hot lunches to school. I love it because it’s durable, leak-proof, and keeps food hot until lunchtime.

The DaCool Insulated Lunch Container Hot Food Jar is another great food thermos for bringing hot food to school. What I love about this container in particular is that it keeps liquid hot or cold for 12 hours, and it has a foldable spoon, and the food-grade lid can also be used as a bowl to eat from.

If your kid is the type that doesn’t like different foods to touch, or you want the flexibility to combine the foods later, then you need the ArderLive Stackable Lunch Box. This lunch box allows you to pack lunch foods separately or add a snack. Each container has a lid that doubles as a dish. The one drawback is that it keeps food warm for 1-2 hours, or 2-3 hours with the insulated lunch bag.

Not only does Lava Lunch Insulated Lunch Bag keep food hot for 5 hours, but there are separate hot and cold compartments to pack drinks, fruit or yogurt too.

Related: 7 Best Kids’ Yogurt Brands

If you’re packing hot lunch, your kids will need utensils. Plastic utensils are always a safe option, but if you’re looking for a more eco-friendly option, try the OXO Tot Cutlery Set. Made with stainless steel, this set actually works to capture and cut food, it looks like adult cutlery, and it’s also BPA and PVC-free and dishwasher- safe.

 

HOT LUNCH IDEAS FOR SCHOOL: PASTA

 

1. Pasta with marinara sauce sprinkled with parmesan cheese

2. Pasta with vegetables sprinkled with parmesan cheese

3. Macaroni and cheese

4. Pasta and peas

5. Meatballs and pasta

6. Red lentil pasta with veggies 

7. Pasta with pesto sprinkled with parmesan cheese

8. Ravioli with vegetables

9. Tortellini and vegetables

10. Lasagna roll ups

 

SOUPS TO PACK IN A FOOD THERMOS

11. Pasta e Fagioli

12. Chicken noodle soup

13. Split pea soup

14. Butternut squash soup

15. Black bean soup

16. Cream of broccoli soup

17. Cream of asparagus soup

18. Italian wedding soup

19. Corn chowder or chicken corn chowder

20. Potato leek soup

21. Taco soup

22. Cauliflower soup

23. Minestrone soup

24. Cream of mushroom soup

LEFTOVER CHILI IDEAS FOR SCHOOL LUNCH

25. Lentil chili

26. Turkey chili

27. Bean chili

25. Lentil chili

26. Turkey chili

27. Bean chili

HOT LUNCH IDEAS FOR SCHOOL: RICE DISHES

28. Chickpeas and rice sprinkled with parmesan cheese

29. Baked Arancini (Italian rice balls)

30. Healthy fried rice (add chicken, pork, egg or shrimp)

31. Grilled chicken with vegetables and rice

32. Roasted salmon with vegetables and rice

33. Mixed vegetables with rice

34. Pea risotto

BREAKFAST FOR LUNCH

35. Quiche

36. Breakfast casserole

37. Oatmeal with dried fruit and pumpkin seeds

38. Egg muffins

39. Scrambled eggs with sweet potato hash

40. Eggs and pancakes

41. Zucchini pie

42. Veggie blend breakfast waffles

43. Frittata

Related: [VIDEO] 6 Health Benefits of Eggs for Kids

HOMEMADE SCHOOL LUNCH IDEAS WITH BEANS AND LEGUMES

44. Falafel

45. Bunless bean burgers

46. Brown rice and black, red kidney, or white beans

47. Lentils soup or lentil stew

48. Chickpea curry

49. Burrito bowl

Related: 5 Reasons Your Kids Should Eat Beans

OTHER HEALTHY & DELICIOUS HOT LUNCH IDEAS FOR SCHOOL

Author Details
Julie Revelant teaches parents how to raise children who are healthy, adventurous eaters. Through blog posts and videos, her goal is to shift the conversation from short-term, problem picky eating to lifelong, healthy eating and healthy futures. Julie has written for FoxNews.com, FIRST for Women magazine, WhatToExpect.com, EverydayHealth.com, RD.com, TheBump.com, Care.com, and Babble.com.

Julie Revelant