PreSchooler Snacks & Thermos Question

Updated on September 17, 2010
M.G. asks from Keansburg, NJ
16 answers

Good Morning,

I have two questions that I hope I can get some clarity on. First, my son started the Head Start program in my town. I am still figuring out what snacks/lunch I should send him. I wanted to send him apples but he likes them cut up and skinless. They will be brown by lunchtime. Any suggestions? I am trying to use lunchables very minimally.

My Thermos is.. I have one that I bought for him. I tried it out the other day. I made fresh soup. It cooled down a little bit, placed it in the thermos. In the morning, I checked the warmth of it. It was slightly warm was there for about 8 hours so it seemed fine. Here's my problem. I took out the soup and re-heated it. I tasted it to make sure it wasn't scalding. Well, imagine my surprise when I noticed my soup was spoiled (sour). What happened? I spoke to the teacher to check his soup when it was lunch time. She actually reheated it. (She said that she did it as an was nice of her. She can't do it all the time. Otherwise, she will spend lunch around the microwave.) I would like to send warm items..suggestions?

I know I am such a rookie at this school thing.. He's my eldest and the first in daycare/school.

Thank you for your help,

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from New York on

Dear M., a few drops of lemom juice in a zip loc with the apple slices should keep them from getting brown. I know why the soup spoiled, my grand kids take a thermos all winter, but you must fill it in the morning. Grandma Mary



answers from Albany on

Dip apples in pineapple juice (you can open a can of pineapple and then get several snacks out of it!) to prevent browning. It tastes better than lemon juice. Granny smith apples also tend to last longer.

More Answers


answers from Dover on

Kids this age do not expect things to be HOT and room temperature usually will work for them. Fill the thermos with HOT soup in the morning. It will still be warm at lunch. You could put hot finger foods in the thermos when you aren't sending sticks, chicken nuggets. You can get the prepackaged apples...they are sliced but not peeled, he could eat around the skin. Cheese sticks are another protein snack you could send easily.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Richmond on

I think the thermos should keep it warm enough - remember, your child is small and doesn't expect "hot". Are you filling the thermos with boiling water and letting it sit for 5 minutes before dumping and filling? They probably eat lunch by 12. My daughter is picky about things not being "cold" and eats lunch at 11:45, and never has comlaints about the contents, and is old enough at 6 to let me know if something tasted bad, cold etc.

We use her thermos a lot to pack macaroni and cheese, left over pizza (she won't eat it cold) we cut it up, bake it in the oven until warm, and then toss the squares into the thermos. Makes them at LEAST room temperature and cheese still soft.

Also send any left overs from dinner - homemade chicken tenders heated up, and cut up inside, even steak!

It may not be "hot" like an adult would expect, but it stays pretty warm.

Also, remember we have preconceived notions of lunch they don't have. My daughter loves it when I take a sandwich container and fill it with slices of cheese, meats (pepperoni, ham, roast beef) in little slices, and crackers, and she can "make her own sandwiches". Sometimes a fruit salad, popcorn and stick of string cheese or yogurt.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I wouldn't send in a Thermos, call the teacher and ask what they allow.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Heat the thermos with boiling water as another poster said, then fill it with very hot soup. If you soup cooled down before you put it in there, it's just going to continue cooling. I'd avoid the milk and cream-based soups, too. Food needs should not be kept at temperatures of 43-130 degrees for very long (an hour at most). It's also possible you just don't have a very good thermos.

Other lunch suggestions: sandwiches on bread or in a tortilla, cheese & crackers, applesauce, fruit cups, grapes, little tomatoes, raisins. If you get the thermos to stay warm, you could roll cheese up in a tortilla get it good and hot and slide it in there. You'll find out that he may be happy with the same lunch every day, even though moms generally prefer they have a variety.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Fort Wayne on

Why can't you just send a sandwich? Or lunch meat, crackers and cheese? It doesn't have to be a lunchable. Get him one of the lunch bags that you can put the ice packs in. His stuff should stay cool enough. You can put a little lemon or lime juice on the apples to keep them looking fresh, but it's not necessary. They're brown because of the way the natural sugars react to air, not because they are bad.
I've never personally had a soup go sour. Was it a cream or milk based soup? That's the only kind of soup I can think of that would spoil. But, it's not like his soup would be in a Thermos for 8 hours either. Warm it up in the morning and put it in his Thermos right before he leaves for school. It should still be warm enough for him to eat at lunch time.
Other than that, I would talk to the teacher and ask what she suggests for his lunch. She would know best since she's around the kids all the time.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

If you put lemmon juice on the apples, they don't brown, or so I was told years ago.
It doesn't bug my kids or me, so I have never tried it. the browning is due to exposure to air, not becuase it is rotten, FYI.
Little lunches are difficult, have you tried any pasta or noddle based dishes that are good even if not "hot?" My kids love cold pasta and it makes a good mix in with chicken, tuna and some veggie pieces.
I understand the desire for a hot lunch, too. It is comforting and usually the programs are set up with a nap after lunch, so it is filling and cozy.
however, you could alternate with some roll ups or hummus dips. Kids in the company of other kids eat much better than in the company of mom & dad, so probably anything you send will be eaten.
Best of luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

The apples should be dipped in lemon or vinegar or other acid to keep them white. Does your son like bananas or orange wedges? Those might be easier.

If you want to send in something that'll stay warm, pasties are great. Make a bunch and freeze them uncooked. Toss them in the oven in the morning to cook then wrap them up in foil or a clean kitchen towel. It'll stay warm for about 4-5 hours (more if well wrapped and insulated).

Did you put the (warm) soup in a room temperature thermos the night before? Next time put hot soup in a pre-warmed thermos in the morning. (Others have explained how to do this.)

Room temperature foods are also an option. I often make up vegetable sticks with non-dairy dips and fresh fruit.



answers from Tulsa on

I am grateful our Head Start feeds the kids. You can't fill the thermos until the morning, right before you leave home, then it will still be warm at school.

I would not do anything that complicated myself. I know how easy it is to just grab something and put it in a bag. You'll need to dip apples in Sprite or a powder made to keep fruit fresh longer, maybe called fruit fresh? You can always buy the single containers of Ravioli, Spaghetti, etc...from Chef Boy-ardee. Pop in a cheese stick and you are done. Pasta is a grain, tomato sauce and veggies in the sauce cover veggies, apples are the fruit and add a 100% juice box, and cheese stick covers dairy. Or a yogurt, kids love the Dora or Diego yogurts. J did this lunch a lot at Motehrs-Day-Out and he didn't like his heated so the teacher just popped it open and he ate it up. They only heat 30-45 seconds so it's not a lot of time anyway.

Everything goes in the trash when the meal is finished. Not spoon coming home, no tippy cup or thermos, etc...just spray the bag with a light bleach cleaner or disinfectant and let it dry for the next day.



answers from Madison on

Heat the soup up in the morning. Before you put the soup in the thermos, fill the thermos with very hot water for 5-10 minutes. Empty it out and then add the hot soup. This will keep the soup fresh for lunch time.

MAKE SURE TO HEAT UP FOOD THE MORNING OF SCHOOL so it stays fresh. It will spoil if you try to heat them up the night before. Heat up the thermos with hot water first, empty, and then you can put anything hot you like in it and it will stay fresh. Soups, stews, mac & cheese, leftovers.



answers from New York on

Hi M.,
I just got the One Step Ahead catalog and they have a StayFit Soup Container for only $6.95. They also have one for cereal that keeps the milk cold in the lid, then just add to the bowl of cereal when ready. For snacks, I used to do pretzels or Snap Pea Crisps (ShopRite or Trader Joes) and fruit like blueberries or cut up melon.
Good luck!



answers from New York on

A thermos is meant to keep food hot a few hours. If you left the soup in it overnight, it isn't going to stay fresh, the food will spoil out of refrigeration. The thermos is meant to be filled with hot food that morning for that day's lunch



answers from New York on

It's great that you are trying to send fresh, healthy foods, but as a teacher, I can relate to the fact that we can't heat up everyone's lunch! You have to store the soup in the fridge overnight and warm it up in the morning. Then put it in the thermos for school. I think having in the thermos warm for 8 hrs will allow too much bacteria to grow. Keep in mind though, soup is hard for kids to eat. Drippy and all that. As for the apples, how about sprinkling a bit of cinnamon and sugar on the slices before putting them in the baggie or bowl? Lemon juice does prevent some browning, if you're worried about just appearances, but the sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar is an alternative. What about sandwiches with veggies and cheese or slices of meat from dinner? He can make them himself and you can cut them into little squares or triangles. Easy to make, easy to eat.



answers from Albany on

My son loves pita sandwiches. Half a pita, stuffed with sliced chicken (leftover from BBQ dinner), or sliced hamburger, cheese, and lettuce.
I agree soup would be messy, though my son loves soup, he prefers it in a larger bowl, and not the cup/bowl lid of the thermos jar.
For a hot meal, a thicker stew, or noodle/pasta dish works well. BUT yes it does need to be packed the morning of.

For snacks, I am lucky he eats his apples at morning snack, and they don't turn so quickly. Also cut up sweet peepers, baby carrots (NOT the babycut ones.. they are just big carrots shaped), or a baggie of raisins, dried banana chips.

I find most of his peers have sandwiches. Unless they are on luch programme with the school.
-- I think if he has hot cereal, and a hot dinner, he'll be aok with a sandwich for luch, and balanced snacks.



answers from New York on

- coat the cut apple pieces in a little bit of lemon juice, it will prevent them from turning brown.
- cheese sticks are usually a big hit.
- how about granola bars or healthy fruit/nut bars?
- sounds like the thermos might need replacing, but I would also caution that you cannot put hot soup in the thermos the night before and expect it to be hot and fresh for lunch the next day. You would ned to heat it in the morning and put it in a good insulated thermos for it to last until lunch, and a god thermos should be able to do that just fine, Also, a thermos can only keep things really hot if it is full.
- my son likes hard boiled eggs, which keep very well and can be made in advance.
- obviously fruit, cut up, is a good healthy choice.
- veggies and dip or hummus? Carrot sticks, celery, bell peppers, all good for dipping in hummus or dip.

Good luck!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions