Are your kids ready for a variety in their lunchboxes? Here are some easy options for hot food to pack in school lunches!
My school kids aren’t big sandwich eaters, so I’ve already gotten creative as I pack their school lunches.
Here are some of the non-sandwich cold lunch options I often send with them. I’d already done the cost breakdown for these when I originally put together this list here, so I left the cost estimates just for fun. Notice how it saves a lot of money to pack a lunch for school!
1. Bean and cheese quesadillas, carrots, strawberries $1.78
2. Cheese and crackers, summer sausage, grapes, spinach cupcake (no frosting), cottage cheese and pineapple = $2.49
3. Pumpkin muffin, cottage cheese and pineapple, clementine, almonds = $1.43
4. Tuna salad with crackers, fruit cup, cheese stick, spinach cupcake (no frosting) = $1.83
5. Chips with cheesy bean dip, grapes, spinach cupcake (no frosting) = $1.43
6. Leftover pizza slices (with spinach “hidden” on top), clementine, banana = $1.34
7. Bagel with cream cheese “sandwich”, ham, apple = $1.72
These lunches have worked great for my kids! But a few weeks ago, I picked up some nice thermoses at Costco, so now I have the option of sending a hot lunch too. I love the variety this adds to my kids’ lunchboxes. I also love that they can eat leftovers for their lunches, which cuts down my prep time!
Easy Hot Food to Pack in School Lunches
I put these items in a saucepan the night before, then warm the food while my kids are eating breakfast. I transfer the hot food to their thermoses and send them on their way. Hours later at lunchtime, the food is still hot. Amazing!
Here are some of their favorites that I’ve sent so far:
1. Beanie Weanies with grapes and a muffin
2. Mac and Cheese with a fruit cup and a banana
3. Chili with a little bag of cheese and a little bag of fritos for them to add to their chili, plus a clementine or fruit cup
4. Taco Soup with a little bag of cheese and a little bag of fritos for them to add to their soup, plus grapes
5. Chicken Noodle Soup with a spinach cupcake (no frosting) and an apple
6. Spaghetti with a cheese stick and mandarin oranges
7. Tomato Soup with a straw to slurp it up :) plus a cup of cottage cheese with pineapple
8. White Chicken Chili with a little bag of fritos for them to add to their chili plus fruit cup or grapes
9. Ham and Cheesy Potato Casserole with grapes and a muffin
Extras for lunch boxes
- Notice how my kids’ lunches are short on veggies?? Yikes, I know. They don’t eat raw veggies and I have to give them dips and ketchup to get their hot veggies down at home. So we work on veggies at dinnertime and eat as many of these smoothies as we can! :)
- These spinach cupcakes sort of get some veggies in them during school lunch, so I make them and baggie them individually for the freezer.
- Also, when I make any soup, I add a lot of veggies to the broth. So they are getting veggies that way if they take soup in a thermos.
- Need muffin recipes for your kids’ lunchboxes? My kids love it when I send a muffin. Here’s a huge muffin recipe list.
- Fruit cups (peaches, pears, or mandarin oranges in 100% juice) cost more than canned fruit, but I do appreciate the convenience they provide for school lunches. Also, when I add up the cost of any meal I pack for the kids, it still costs less than a school lunch typically costs. So the splurge is worth it.
What hot lunches do your kids enjoy at school?
I’ve found “preheating” my kids’ thermoses with boiling water for a few minutes prior to adding the hot food keeps the food warmer longer.