thermos lunch ideas
Kids, Nutrition, Tips / How-Tos

10 Easy Thermos Lunch Ideas for Kids

For busy parents and caregivers, a kids hot lunch container offers a convenient way to prepare leftovers, soups, pastas and more for your child to bring to school. With the right recipes, thermos lunches can help reduce the stress and time involved with packing hot lunches for kids while still giving your growing youngsters the ideal blend of nutrition and yum.

Want some inspiration for delicious and nutritious thermos lunches for kids? Below you’ll find 10 low-prep, easy-to-pack thermos lunch ideas to give your children the midday brain boost they need!

1. Taco Soup

Because so much flavor comes from the spice, taco soup can incorporate nearly any meat, vegetable or legume without losing that signature taco taste. Ramp up the nutrients (and fullness factor!) by loading up on beans and lentils, two of our favorite superfoods for kids.

2. Mac and Cheese

nurture life mac & cheese thermos

There’s hardly another dish as quintessentially kid-friendly as mac and cheese—but Nurture Life’s Mac & Cheese isn’t your processed boxed variety. Smoothly blended “hidden” cauliflower and whole wheat pasta provide extra fiber with no added sugar. Just 1–2 minutes in the microwave makes this meal one of the quickest hot lunch ideas for kids!

3. Warm Tuna Wraps 

If you’re using a thermos for kids lunch-packing, why not try a warm take on a classic sandwich? Tuna melt wraps are protein-packed and low-prep, requiring lite tuna, Greek yogurt, a whole wheat tortilla and your favorite veggies or cheese. To make it more thermos-friendly, we suggest using crunchy veggies like carrots instead of lettuce. Just wrap it all up, pack it in your kids hot lunch container and go!

4. Alphabet Soup

Another classic children’s dish, alphabet soup adds an element of learning to lunch. Use whole wheat pasta and plenty of fresh-cut veggies or legumes to keep your kids feeling full and ready to learn.

5. Scrambled Eggs

Eggs are a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals and protein and a favorite food of one of our registered dietitians, Lara Field. They also offer an incredibly versatile way to incorporate protein into thermos lunches for kids! Serve with spinach and mushrooms for an egg scramble, or make your own house specialty with your kids’ favorite vegetables.

6. Thai Coconut Chicken

Why not send your little one on a lunchtime adventure? One of our favorite hot lunch ideas for kids, our Thai Coconut Chicken incorporates plenty of colorful veggies alongside deliciously roasted chicken and fiber-rich brown rice. Stewed with garlic, ginger and coconut milk, the taste is just adventurous enough to still be totally kid-approved!

7. Oatmeal

Who says oatmeal just has to be for breakfast? These kid-friendly oatmeal options offer a variety of ways to spice up your basic bowl, all while staying delightfully warm and tasty in a kids hot lunch container.

8. Broccoli Soup

Even kids who struggle to get down their greens will love this broccoli soup. Frozen or fresh-cut broccoli, carrots and celery contribute plenty of vitamins and minerals, and you can easily incorporate extra fiber by blending in beans, chickpeas or lentils.

9. Cheesy Zucchini Pomodoro

thermos for kids

This hearty meal serves up your kid’s favorite Italian flavors in a housemade pomodoro tossed with a tasty three-cheese blend and fun shell-shaped whole wheat pasta. Roasted zucchini adds a pleasing pop of color to the mix, plus essential vitamins and minerals to power your little one’s active afternoon.

10. Sweet Potato Curry

Curries are perfect thermos lunches for kids because their flavor only gets better over time. Try this sweet potato chickpea curry to deliver healthful vitamins, minerals and fiber with a sweet and slightly spicy kick.

Bonus Tips for Well-Balanced Thermos Lunches for Kids

For a healthy balance of nutrients at every meal, our pediatric registered dietitian recommends rounding out your kids hot lunch container with a few cold sides:

  • Dairy: Incorporate milk, yogurt, cottage cheese or an alternative plant-based milk.
  • Fresh fruit: A few kid-friendly, easy-to-pack favorites include apples, bananas, melons and strawberries.
  • Wholesome snacks: If your child loves some crunch, forget the potato chips and stick to these kid-friendly junk food alternatives instead.

Whether you’re gearing up for a new school year or are looking to mix up a monotonous lunch-packing routine, these hot lunch ideas for kids will help you create satisfying, well-balanced meals, even when time is tight! Want more kids meals in minutes delivered directly to your door? Get started with Nurture Life.

RJ Bio

Rachael Janas

Rachael joined the Nurture Life team as the Marketing Production & QA Manager. From menu design to nutrient analysis, she covers all things food. Rachael is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian with a strong foundation in clinical nutrition and a keen interest in nutritious food with phenomenal flavor. Her passion for incorporating whole foods and creative cuisine while focusing on age-specific nutrient needs of children is essential to Nurture Life’s menu design. Rachael has been practicing dietetics since 2011, with the bulk of her experience in clinical nutrition at Loyola Medical Center, specializing in patients with cystic fibrosis as well as critical care nutrition related to lung disease and lung transplant. She also has experience in cardiac health and nutrition during pregnancy. Rachael received her B.S. from Saint Louis University in Missouri and completed a dietetic internship with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Rachael’s interests include creative cooking at home, using a variety of ingredients, spices and herbs for a unique meal each night. She truly believes nutrition and food should be enjoyable and that all food can be enjoyed in moderation.