25 Thermos Funtainer Hot Lunch Ideas

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Easy Thermos Funtainer Hot Lunch Ideas

Now that I have two kiddos in school, I certainly find myself packing my fair share of lunches. Sandwiches are, of course, a staple. Peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese, etc are typical sandwich combos that my kids will eat. I loved the idea of sending them to school with a hot lunch, but I figured it was harder than it sounded.

I was wrong!  It’s ridiculously easy to send kids off with a lunch that is still warm or even hot by noon!  I picked up a Thermos Funtainer for each kid and try to use them in rotation with our usual sandwich fare.

Hot Lunch Ideas for Thermos Funtainers

How to Prepare Lunch in Thermos Funtainers

If I am cooking their lunch up in the morning, I place the hot food in the Funtainer immediately after cooking. If I am sending them off with leftovers (more common) like pasta, I heat the food up super hot in the microwave and then dump it in the Funtainer.  Food placed in the Funtainer when it’s piping hot should stay hot/warm until lunchtime!

A great tip for foods that tend to get a little soggy like chicken nuggets – put a paper towel or napkin in the bottom of the Thermos to absorb some of the moisture.

Food Safety for Hot Foods

Hot foods need to stay hot in order to prevent possible bacteria from forming which can, in turn, cause a foodborne illness. Make sure you pack hot foods at at least 165F internal temperature. If your food does not contain liquid (for example soup or stew), it should be eaten within about 2 hours cut down on the risk of bacteria forming.

Your best bet is to pre-heat the container with very hot water, pack food when it’s piping hot, and not letting the food spend more than 2-3 hours in the “bacteria danger zone” of 40 – 140F.  Source: USDA

Top Funtainer Hot Lunch Ideas

1. Buttered Pasta
2. Pasta with Marinara
3. Mac and Cheese
4. Soup
5. Grilled Cheese
6. Pizza Rolls
7. Hot Dogs (optional: send hot dog roll)
8. Chicken Nuggets
9. Bagel Bites
10. Mashed Potatoes with Toppings
11. Ravioli
12. Meatballs
13. Chili
14. French Toast Sticks
15. Oatmeal
16. Casserole (dinner leftovers work great!)
17. Chicken Pot Pie
18. Tuna Casserole
19. Shredded BBQ Chicken or Pork (optional: send hamburger bun)
20. Fish Sticks
21. Scrambled Eggs
22. Taco Meat (and send tortilla wraps or taco shells)
23. Pork Fried Rice or White Rice
24. Baked Beans and Cut Up Hot Dogs
25. Pot Roast

What hot lunches do YOU send with your kiddos?

You can usually find some great deals on popular Thermos Funtainers during the end of summer, when the back to school deals are bumping. Honestly though, even when they are not on sale, you can usually pick up a new Funtainer for less than 20 bucks. They hold up well to regular use – we have had the same Funtainers for several years now and they still work great.


25 Hot Lunch Ideas for Thermos Funtainers

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Funtainer Hot Lunch Ideas PIN 1

Funtainer Hot Lunch Ideas PIN 2

56 thoughts on “25 Thermos Funtainer Hot Lunch Ideas”

  1. I just bought a thermo & my kid started school this week. Thanks for the ideas!!!
    Other ideas on my list:
    Chicken Alfredo Pasta, Pig in a Blanket, Quesadillas, Breakfast Sandwich

  2. I always run a cup of hot water through the kureg and let it sit for about 10 minutes to pre-heat the thermos before we add our warm food.
    My kids top request is spaghetti o’s with meatballs, but we do a lot of leftover pasta dishes.

  3. We do the same with the hot water warm up before adding the food. In addition to most of the items listed, we also warm leftover pizza cut into strips to fit in the thermos.

  4. I love using the thermos in winter . Some of my kids favourites are steamed dim sims with a little soy sauce or 2 minute noodles. In summer I use it for frozen berries with yoghurt.

  5. I find that chicken nuggets when placed directly in the thermos when hot, become soggy and unappetizing by lunch time, as they’re essentially steamed for a few hours. Same thing happens with sweet potato fries, and any of the Dr Praegar Veggie littles. Anyone have suggestions on keeping finger food crunchy??

  6. You say best consumed within 2-3 hrs for safety..
    however I pack my kids lunch at 6:30am and they do not eat lunch by 9:30 am. They would normally go at least 4-5 hrs.

    • So I would stick to the liquid options which will stay hot enough and safe temperature-wise for your thermos containers. Soups, stews, etc – liquid based foods will maintain the higher temperatures longer. I pack my kids’ lunches around 8 am and they eat between 11-12, so I just try to use my best judgement!

    • I was just coming to ask the same. What school serves lunch before 10:00? I wish thermos options worked but there’s just no way I can keep any food hot for 5 hours between making and eating the lunch, unfortunately.

      • Is soup/stew/chili/something liquid based an option for you? If you pre-heat the thermos with boiling water (I let water from my keurig run right into the thermos and let it sit for like 5 minutes while I’m rounding up whatever food is going inside.) Then I dump on the super hot water and put the food in. If you do that with liquid based food like soup or stew, that food will stay hot for many hours. Side note – high schools here start serving lunch at 10:20 am. Which is nuts to me. The elementary school kids eat closer to 11-12 but start the day later than HS.

  7. Brats, hot dogs and kielbasa could all be sitting in hot water in the thermos which will stay warm 4 hours maybe longer. I still heat the thermos up with hot water and then dump that water and add the meat and new boiling hot water. My kids also like baked beans.

  8. So then there is no way to do thermos if I’m making lunches at 7am and they are eating around 12pm! I just ordered a thermos too!

        • I really think it all depends on how hot you can keep the food… and I am not a food safety expert, so I wanted to make sure I put the basic temperature guidelines in the post so readers were aware of it. I have sent mac and cheese added at around 8 am in a preheated thermos for a 12 pm lunchtime and it stayed hot. You might just want to play around with it and see how hot different foods are after a certain number of hours.

    • we just ordered a food jar from Stanley that will keep hot or cold for 12 hours! I tried mac and cheese in the thermos brand and it did not keep the food warm for 4 hours

  9. I think this is a bit off. A thermos will only keep things with liquid warm. If you put something like chicken nuggets in there, the steam will make them soggy. I put those in foil and poke some holes in it. We primarily send soup in a thermos. I’ve tried other things and my son has said it was gross.

    • Chicken nuggets can get a little soggy – some readers have suggested putting a paper towel in the bottom to absorb the moisture. We have had great luck with pasta – in particular spaghetti and mac and cheese, staying hot until lunchtime.

  10. We love the SLM brand lunch box thermos. It has a handle on top that helps it open easily, does not leak, and is an appropriate size for my 8, 12 & 14 year old. (With other food added to lunch box too) We tested it at home and it keeps soups & pastas warm for 4-6 hours IF it is primed correctly before the food is added. Add boiling water to the thermos, if it lid back on, let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Then dump out water, add your HOT food and seal.

  11. Call me crazy.. but with the concerns of keeping food to a “safe” temp, if wrapped up, couldn’t you add one of those feet/hand warmers into your container? Or even wrapped around the outside of the vessel to keep a hotter temp inside? Would/could it work??

    • Unfortunately probably won’t work, as hand warmers are air activated there’s no air in the thermos once it’s sealed closed! The hand warmers will get cold once they aren’t exposed to circulating air! I thought about trying them too!

  12. I tried the heating the thermos idea for my kids with Ramen Noodles. My kids told me that their noodles were soggy and cold by the time they ate.

    • This is late but what we do is put the boiling water in the preheated thermos. At lunch time she adds the noodles and the packet to the hot water, puts the lid back on for 3 minutes, and voilà – perfect ramen. You wouldn’t do that with little kids but with a tween or teenager it works!

  13. TACOS!!! I also warm the Thermo with hot water. Wrap the flour tortilla taco in a paper towel then in aluminum. They stand perfect in the thermo. My kids just pull taco out. No mess, no spills, no burning. I make their lunch at 6:30 am and they eat at 12. I do not add any veggies to the tacos. My oldest take lettuce and tomatoes in a separate baggie then adds them to the taco.


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