No sandwiches, no problem! Here are some hot lunch ideas for your kiddo using a Thermos. You’ll just need to get up a little bit earlier on hot lunch days.
Steps for Keeping Your Thermos Lunch Hot from Living Locurto:
- Boil water by adding a large glass full of hot water into the microwave for 2-3 minutes.
- Fill the Thermos with boiling water, close the lid and let it sit inside for about 5 minutes.
- When you’re ready to fill the Thermos, pour out the water and add the food immediately. The Thermos should be piping hot!
- Cover your food with the lid as soon as you can to keep the heat inside of the container. The food will stay hot for hours! Don’t forget to add a spoon or fork into your kid’s lunch box.
1. Macaroni and Cheese
Homemade Mac – My husband, who goes by “Dah”, made a copycat Panera recipe that we called “Dah-nera”. It tasted like a dirty diaper. But I’m sure your family has a better recipe.
Prepared Mac – Serve Kraft Easy Mac, reheated Panera macaroni and cheese, Annie’s, or whatever brand your child likes best.
2. Chicken Nuggets
Cheese Ravioli – My household likes the Organic 3 Cheese Mini Ravioli by Giovanni Rana from Costco. Prepare your pasta as directed. Toss your raviolis with butter, marinara, white sauce, or meat sauce depending on what your child likes. (My little guy hasn’t graduated beyond the buttered noodles phase.)
Make lunch a little more fun/fancy by including a red and white checkered napkin and a spice shaker with grated Parmesan cheese. Your preschooler will love shaking the lil canister!
“Fun” Noodles – Some great options include: cavatappi, elbow, farfalle AKA “bowtie”, fusilli, rotelle AKA “wheel”, and rotini, but use whatever you have in your pantry. Boil the noodles according to the package’s instructions.
Homemade SpaghettiOs – Here’s a recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie. Or, what the heck, heat a can of actual SpaghettiOs and garnish with some crumbled Ritz crackers. If this dish was good enough for Dean Proffitt’s (Kurt Russell’s) kids in Overboard (1987), it’s good enough for me.
Meatballs – Add your favorite mini meatball, if desired. Honestly, I haven’t found any passable ones in the frozen section. (I’m sure Italian mothers everywhere are shrugging smugly, thinking a good frozen meatball is an oxymoron. And they’re probably right.) Still I’m hopeful I’ll find a tasty prepared meatball because God forbid I make one from scratch.
4. Cold or Hot Cereal
Some like it cold…
Dry Cereal – Pour your child’s favorite cereal into the Thermos. Include a carton or container of milk and a spoon. He’ll have fun, with a teacher’s help, pouring the milk into the Thermos. Pack sliced bananas, blueberries, [insert favorite cereal topping]. Don’t forget a cereal box toy surprise! (Hey, does anyone know, is that still a thing?)
And some like it hot…
Cream of Wheat or Oatmeal – Make ten minute or instant hot cereal. I’m a stay-in-bed mom, not a stay-in-kitchen mom, which means I’m an instant girl all the way! Pack small containers or baggies of granola, dried fruit (e.g. cherries, raisins, etc.) or fresh fruit (e.g. berries, kiwis, peaches, etc.), and/or chopped nuts to sprinkle on top of the hot cereal.
If your little sweetheart likes maple syrup, add the desired amount of sweetness to the hot cereal. Or the next time you eat a fast food breakfast, ask for the breakfast syrup condiment packets and include one in your child’s lunch. (See how I look for every opportunity to eat fast food?)
Tomato Soup; Chicken and Stars; Chicken and O’s – Homemade or store bought, it’s totally up to you! Serve with your child’s favorite crackers, breadsticks, pretzel rods, or toasted cheese dippers/dunkers.
A Final Thought – From the Pillow
Don’t beat yourself up if the lunch comes home uneaten. You pick the foods to serve. Your child picks which ones to eat (if any at that meal).
So take it easy on yourself. And take it easy on your child. As long as you’re offering a variety of healthy options (well, at least most of the time), you’re doing your job as a parent.
What did I miss? Do you have any “tried and tested” Thermos meals?