Hot packed lunch tummy-filler ideas

All you need is a vacuum flask and these easy hot packed lunch recipes to send your kids off to school with a warming meal to enjoy in the winter months.

Getting started

Packed lunch dishes don’t need to be complicated and the portions won’t be big, so the secret is to make a load in one go, freeze it in one-portion batches then defrost as you need so that any dish takes little longer than a sandwich would to make.

Homemade soup

Chop up veg your child loves, add a little chopped onion then sauté in oil for 10 minutes before adding vegetable stock and simmering for 30 minutes.
TIP Freeze in reusable soup cartons so you only need to defrost one portion at a time.

Pasta with tomato sauce

This lunch recipe is really simple: just mix chopped tomatoes, finely chopped onion and garlic, and other veg to taste, then simmer for about 15 minutes and blend.
TIP Boil the pasta fresh in the morning, while the sauce is defrosting and warming.


You can prepare this hot lunch straight in the food flask! Put quick-cook couscous and chopped veg to taste (diced red pepper, baby tomatoes, cucumber etc) then pour in boiling stock. Secure the lid and give it a good shake then let it sit in the flask until needed.
TIP Remember it will bulk up so don’t overfill the flask!

Chicken casserole

Pieces of meat don’t stay warm that long, but in a sauce they do. Keep back a potful from supper the night before and put it in the fridge overnight. Warm it thoroughly in the morning.
TIP Add in halved boiled new potatoes (they work better in a food flask than mash or rice).

Warm sausage and quinoa

Like couscous, quinoa is quick to cook and works well with tuna and sweetcorn, stirred together – a great healthy recipe for kids.
TIP Make sure it’s still a little moist so it keeps warmer, but don’t use mayonnaise.

Washing up

Make sure lunchbox essentials get washed up as soon as the kids are home from school – use Fairy dishwashing liquid on dried-on goo and stinky bags. It’s worth buying a short vacuum flask with a wide neck (the kids FUNtainer range of food flasks from Thermos is ideal). The lid can be used as a bowl for soup or other hot dishes and the wide neck makes it easy to get food in and out, PLUS it’s easier to clean!