20 answers

Sending Hot Lunch to School

It's only been a week since my son started preschool but I'm already sick of sending him sandwiches for lunch! So far I have alternated each day between PB&J and bologna sandwiches. I would like to be able to send him something like chicken nuggets or macaroni & cheese but I'm not sure when to cook them and how to store them. Can you all give me some ideas on sending "hot" foods. My son is actually not very picky about the temperature of his food and would probably eat them cold, but I'm just not sure about the safety. Thank you in advance for any ideas!

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Featured Answers

If you heat the food up in the morning & put it in a thermos container meant for hot drinks or hot food it will stay warm until lunch time. MY oldest son takes a thermos with soup for lunch everyday and this works very well.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm having the same dilemma....I've done mac'n cheese in a thermos w/chicken nuggets once this week. The other day lunchables and ham & cheese rolled up. I also send PB&J on crackers.

I would love to hear what other moms' have done too.

More Answers

I just want to add that while I am heating the nuggets in the morning in the microwave, I fill the thermos w/ hot water and let it sit with the lid on until nuggets are ready. Then pour out the water, wipe the inside w/ a paper towel and put the nuggets in. It will stay warm for hours. Then I put ketchup in a little round ziploc plastic container with a lid. My kid is picky and this about all he will eat.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi there, I am having the same issue with trying to come up with lunch ideas. For a hot lunch, I did get a small thermos container that is meant to keep lunches hot for 5 -6 hours (you put hot water in first to temper it). I have put mac and cheese, pasta, and even tried soup. A couple times I've also stuck some veggies on top. You can get the containers at Walmart or Target; just look where they have storage containers (or maybe camping gear, etc) I hope that helps!

1 mom found this helpful

If you heat the food up in the morning & put it in a thermos container meant for hot drinks or hot food it will stay warm until lunch time. MY oldest son takes a thermos with soup for lunch everyday and this works very well.

1 mom found this helpful

HI C.,

Sandwiches are not the only way to go with lunch boxes. Use leftovers ie cut last night's chicken into to bite-sized chunks, add some cheese chunks and baby carrots. That's a great nourishing lunch - and so easy. We send out a newsletter twice a month that includes a Cool Lunch Box Menu. Also have a bunch of lunch recipes on our website, which is about to be rebooted in a new format - so please check it out next week for more ideas (www.familyfoodexperts.com). Hot lunches are great. Again, leftovers - try to get away from chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. A warm or cold pasta salad - edamame beans - there are so many other ways to feed your preschooler. Feel free to email me with your thoughts... for the health of families,

I get tired of sending sandwiches too. For a treat I would buy the cooked publix chicken tenders, heat them up right before we leave the house, put them in tin foil and they would be a little warm or sort of room temp but not cold. Also make pasta salad with tricolor noodles, cheese, pepperoni and italian dressing. The kids love it. Good Luck
T. with AuPairCare/Live-In Childcare

Hi C.,
I like to prepare wraps (chicken, tuna, ect) with the tortilla, chicken strips inside or tuna salad, lettuce and a bit of cheese). My kids love them. Another idea are croissants, you just put some cheese with a lunch meet or whatever you want in them. Yes, left overs are a great idea, by the container Thermos. Make sure you put lots of fruits, nutricional bars (quaker, kellogs, ect) water. Good luck and happy lunch boxing packaging!

You have to heat in the morning and place in a container, like plastic glad containers with lids. Soup, mac and cheese, (chicken fingers go ahead and send cold...) any veggies will remain warm til lunch time.
Otherwise, most schools do have a microwave. If that's ok with you.

Hello Fellow Mom,

Yes! I just went out to Target and bought my 7 year old and 3 year old THERMOS containers from Target. They were a bit pricey at $19.99 each but well worth it. They are metal material(stainless steel, food safe)and have worked amazingly. I have sent my kids with macaroni and cheese, rice & chicken with vegetables, chicken nuggests, lasagna,etc. Im very very happy with how the food stays warm, the kids get nutrious meals, and the THERMOS are easy to clean. I usually heat their portion in the microwave about 10 minutes before we head out the door. Make sure they eat with a plastic spoon of course. I personally dont like metal to metal fork contact(like scratching the blackboard feeling). Both my kids have said that their lunches have been warm not hot, and that they love it! For clean up, I always use soap and warm water. I hope this helps. :)

Check with the school, mine will heat up items I send, like mac n cheese etc..

I work at an elementary school and see kids eating lunchables out of the box they have been carrying around all day with no ice ... I have seen kids eating those microwavable chef boyardee cans of pasta - right out of the can! They peel their metal lids off and eat them room temp. Those always amaze me.

Personally, I heat up my own kids' lunches in the am and put their hot foods in a kid size thermos. If stuff is cold, I pack an ice pack. I just started out with them that way right from the beginning as I have a child with food allergies and a vegetarian child (we are now in 6th grade and 1 st grade) and I have not lost a thermos or lunch box to date (knock on wood).

I always, always, always include hand santizer and napkins and silverware for them in their lunches. I worry more about thier hands being clean since my elem aged child comes in the lunchroom from playground!

Someone mentioned that most schools have a microwave and their school lets the kids heat up lunches. I teach at an elementary school where we do not let student lunches be heated- we just don't have the manpower to have someone stand over the microwave during lunch- so definately check with your school first.

I'm having the same dilemma....I've done mac'n cheese in a thermos w/chicken nuggets once this week. The other day lunchables and ham & cheese rolled up. I also send PB&J on crackers.

I would love to hear what other moms' have done too.

I am with you on this one! LOL! I just sent my son to school with a thermos of box mac and cheese that we made last night. We are trying very hard in my house to cut back on food waste. I made them the box m&c last night and there was some left over for his lunch today. I just popped it in the microwave until it was steaming hot and poured it into his thermos. Someone mentioned that they bought their thermoses for $19.99... but I've found them for $15 at Target and Walmart. The only thing I did differently was give him a capri sun juice bag instead of milk... since I didn't add in an icepack I didn't want his milk to spoil. BTW, Capri Sun doesn't have Red 40. YEAH! Oh and he eats around 1230 (pretty late for a kindergartener MPO). I don't see bacteria being an issue if the thermos is clean and the food is only hot for about 4 hours.

My neighbor also gave me the idea that she lets her sons buy lunch 2-3 times a week. She makes it mandatory that they bring lunch at the min 2 times a week. I will be using that idea if there is lunch at school that he will eat.

Good luck!

Chicken nuggets are probably safer than the bologna that yous are sending as I am sure you are probably putting some kind of salad dressing on his sandwiches. Find out what time he eats. That would be the first place to start. Also if it's cool in the room or hot. This plays into the factor as to what to pack. I purchased a little Mickey Mouse head ice pack to put in my girls lunch boxes and it worked great. I could pack them what ever I wanted and not worry about it being good.

Hi you can heat up pasta etc. and put it in a little themos. It works great!

I have a few thermos containers made for food. You can find them in the school supplies section. I used to make her lunch @ 7am and she ate @ 10:25. I've sent chicken nugget, mac & cheese, hot dogs, omelet, soup. Now she doesn;t have lunch until 12:45 so, I don't know if it will stay hot that long. If you wait a little longer they will mark them down in Target. That's where I got them last year. Good luck!

I found a neat lunch site - www.lunchinabox.net. It is very inspirational.


For safety reasons, many foods should either be kept cold or hot , just not room temperature. So if he doesn't care about eating it cold, how about packing stuff like leftover pasta and chicken and put an ice pack in? If you want stuff hot, there is a container made by Thermos that you can get at Target (and I saw some at Toys R Us during back-to-school time only) that is sort of like a short, squat container with a twist on top and large opening. Thermos is the only brand I trust to keep foods hot or cold ALL DAY LONG, and without leaks, too. If you use them, keep in mind that the temperature won't change much within a couple of hours time (an ice cube will last for hours and hours in those suckers!!) so don't heat the food up hotter than you would serve it to him. The conatiners are anywhere from $10-$15 (usually $15 but I've seen them on sale)

Target has the stainless steel food containers. They are $10 and so worth it. You heat the food in the pot or microwave first, pour some hot/boiling water in the container to heat the metal, then pour out the water, add your hot food and it will stay hot/warm for about 12 hours. It's awesome. No chemicals in their food, no waste in the landfills and you can add leftovers. My kids will eat anything that I add cheese to. You can also use it to keep foods cool like a chef salad, fruit salad with lots of nuts and granola for him to sprinkle on top with yogurt. That's a complete healthy meal right there.

My son likes it when I make Spaghetti O's.....I make them really hot in the morning, then put them in a thermos to keep them atleast warm. I would think that he would like that, I suppose u could do the same thing with chicken nuggetts??? Good luck!!

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