Hot school lunch ideas for winter
Since the days are getting cooler, there is no better time than now to start mixing up school lunches by adding a comforting warm lunch rather than the usual sandwich.
My kids think I’m the best mum ever when I pack them a warm lunch. It’s a great idea to keep a stash of portioned meals in the freezer ready to be heated each morning. Alternatively, leftovers make a great lunch.
My kids are always hungry and love a bit of everything, so I like to pack a thermos lunch along with another lunch box item.
I like to keep a few options in the pantry ready for lunch boxes, especially for those busy days I don’t have any homemade options in the house (we all have those days).
How to use a thermos
A thermos is perfect for serving hot packed lunches. There are plenty of different sizes and brands around but they all work much the same.
To use a thermos, first fill the thermos with boiling water, place the lid back on and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
Empty the water, then immediately refill the thermos with your heated lunch. Ensure the food is piping hot.
Place the lid back on tightly, and don’t forget to pack a spoon or fork.
Kids thermos lunch ideas
Not sure what to pack in a thermos. Here are 4 great ideas that have been road tested with my own kids, along with a heap of other ideas to get you started.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Most kids absolutely love chicken noodle soup, and luckily it’s quick and easy to whip up a batch. Chicken noodle soup is also one of those perfect freezer friendly meals.
You could always make a bulk batch of soup and freeze it in individual lunch sized portions. Pull it out of the freezer the night before you need it, then heat until piping hot in the microwave, before transferring to a prepared thermal container.
It doesn’t really take any more time than making a sandwich, but is so much more satisfying on a cold wintery day.
This soup is perfect served with a bread roll on the side. Don’t forget to pack a spoon!
If you are short on time, you could grab a package of pre-prepared soup from the fridge section of your local Woolies supermarket. If you have a little more time on your hands, make a batch of this delicious chicken noodle soup.
To start, heat olive oil in a large saucepan and add chopped onion, celery and carrot. Stir over a high heat until the onion begins to soften.
Next, add the chicken stock followed by the chicken breast (keep it whole). Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cover. Cook for 15 minutes, before adding the broken pieces of spaghetti and cooking for a further 10 minutes. Remove the chicken breast, shred using two forks then return shredded chicken to the soup. Stir in some chopped parsley.
Serve while hot, or allow to cool before freezing for a later date.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
6 cups chicken stock
1 chicken breast
50g Woolworths Spaghetti Pasta, broken into thirds
1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the diced onion, celery and carrot, and cook, stirring continuously until the onion begins to soften.
Add the chicken stock and whole chicken breast, and bring to the boil before covering and reducing the heat. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the spaghetti to the saucepan and simmer for a further 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked. Remove the chicken breast, shred the chicken using two forks, then return the chicken to the soup. Stir through the chopped parsley and serve.
Butter chicken is one of those meals that kids just seem to love. It’s packed full of flavour, but is mild and kid friendly at the same time.
It’s also the perfect lunch when served alongside some basmati rice. Both the butter chicken and rice can be frozen in individual portions, the defrosted and heated in the morning ready to add to the thermal container for lunch.
You can easily make your own butter chicken, but there are also some great ready made options around. I love the mild butter chicken from the fridge section in Woolworths. Only 9 minutes in the microwave and it’s hot and ready to go. It also tastes amazing and the kids love it!
Rainbow Vegetable Stir Fry
I find stir fry to be one of the quickest and easiest meals around. It’s also super healthy, and this rainbow vegetable stir fry is no exception. Tell your kids it’s a ‘rainbow’ stir fry, and hopefully it will be that bit more appealing.
This stir fry only takes a few minutes to make, but alternatively it can easily be made ahead of time and frozen, the noodles included.
Stir fry is one of those meals that can easily be customised to suit your taste. If your kids have a favourite vegetable, you can easily add it. You can also keep it budget friendly by only using in season vegetables.
I kept is simple by using a bag of pre-chopped Woolworths Simply Stir Fry Rainbow Vegetables. I haven’t added meat to my stir fry, but it’s easy enough to add to diced meat. Just stir fry the meat before adding the vegetables.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
375g bag of Woolworths Simply Stir Fry Rainbow Vegetables
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
450g packet hokkien noodles
Before making a start on the stir fry, heat the hokkien noodles according to the packet directions.
Heat olive oil in a large frying pan or wok, and add the garlic and ginger. Stir for around 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
Add the packet of Woolworths Simply Stir Fry Rainbow Vegetables and stir fry until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the soy sauce and oyster sauce and stir until the vegetables are evenly coated in the sauce.
Serve the hokkien noodles and stir fry vegetables together.
Macaroni & Cheese
Who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese. It’s one of those classic, comforting meals that both adults and kids alike enjoy.
Once again it’s one of those meals that can easily be whipped up from scratch (and is perfect for freezing). I discovered the Woolworths Family Classics Macaroni and Cheese last year, and have been buying it since for those times I’m feeling lazy and want something quick and easy.
I actually packed it in thermos containers for our family trip to the snow last year, and the hot pasta makes for an amazing picnic lunch while sitting at a table surrounded by snow!
Woolworths’ version simply needs to be placed in the oven for 30 minutes and it’s ready to go. So, it’s an option that can easily be used during a busy school morning.
Other hot lunch ideas
The options are endless when it comes to thermos lunches. Here some other great hot lunch ideas to get you started.
- Pumpkin soup
- Spaghetti bolognaise
- Mini sausages, served with mini rolls to make hot dogs
- Fried rice
- Chicken Nuggets
- Taco mince, served with corn chips
- 2 Minute noodles
What to serve with hot lunches
I like to serve a little something to go with my kids hot lunches. Something like a piece of fruit, some Woolworths popcorn or Woolworths fava beans.
Some great snack lunch box ideas include:
- Woolworths Original Popcorn
- Cherry tomatoes
- Carrot sticks
- Woolworths Apricot Yoghurt Muesli Bars
- Macro Air Puffed Fava Beans