Having the option to pack warm lunches for your child when they’re at day care, preschool, school, or out on the town can go a long way toward making the whole process a little easier. Here are the best kids thermos options—chosen for durability, affordability, and ease of use.
I love having a thermos to send packed lunches to school and day care because it gives so many more options when I have hot foods in the mix. And it makes it easy to pack leftovers, too!
To help your family, I’m sharing the best thermos options for kids based on my real-life testing and market research. I’ve used these through three kids at varying ages over the course of six years and hope it helps you choose one that will work for family for years to come.
These are great for sending leftovers, easy hot lunches, breakfast for lunch, and more.
Best Kids Lunch Thermos
Here are our top 4 thermos options for kids. Each is easy to clean, dishwasher-safe, durable, equipped with a lid that securely holds in liquids, and good at keeping food warm and cold. They’re each also easy to clean and super durable.
Sanity-Saving Kids’ Lunch Guide
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This stainless-steel thermos keeps cold food cold for up to 12 hours and hot food hot for 6. We have the 8- and 12-ounce versions and use both regularly for the toddler and elementary-age kiddos. (Little kids may need help to open the lid.)
The 8-ounce size is good for toddlers, though you may want to size up to the 12 if an elementary-age child will be using it. (And the larger size is a nice one for grown-ups.)
BUY IT: Lunchbot Thermos, starting at about $25
We adore this lunch box for the ability to pack warm foods in the round insulated compartments and cold or room temperature foods in the others. It makes it so much easier to pack kids lunches since it gives you so many options. It’s also easy to clean since and is durable and available in a few solid colors.
(Little kids may need help opening the insulated compartment, though the handle makes it easier for smaller hands.)
The insulated compartment is removable so you can pack a sandwich or other cold food in there when you’d like to. It’s the perfect size for a toddler lunch or an elementary lunch. This can be a bit heavy in a backpack if there is other stuff in there, but otherwise, we have loved this option.
BUY IT: Omiebox, starting around $40
This stainless-steel, BPA- and phlatate-free 7.8-ounce container keeps food warm for 7 hours and cold for 5. It comes with a spork (and a place to hold it), and the lid may be easier for little kids to open. It’s one of our favorite food containers for lunches (or meals) on the go.
This comes in all of the classic Skip Hop designs, so you or the kids can pick a favorite animal! It’s also priced affordably. It can be used for cold foods on hot days.
BUY IT: Skip Hop Food Jar (with spork), starting at about $15
This reusable thermos food jar is durable, wide-mouth (for easy access and cleaning), and made with kids in mind. It stays cool to the touch and is sweat-proof, and the base of the jar is nonslip. It keeps cold food cold for up to 7 hours and warm food warm for up to 5.
They also have a “Funtainer” line with character designs like Paw Patrol and Minnie Mouse.
BUY IT: Foogo Thermos, starting around $16.
Frequently Asked Questions
On average, an insulated kids thermos will keep cold foods cold for at least 5 hours and warm food warm for at least 7. You may get a little longer depending on the product. I recommend warming the food until hot, add it to the thermos, and seal tightly.
If your thermos will be in a fridge, which I know happens at some daycares, you may want to test it out at home to see what the temperature of the food is after it’s been stored for a few hours that way so you know what to expect.
All of the ones here are BPA-free.
Try not to overfill the thermos, seal it tightly, and have the kids practice opening it at home a few times before they take it to school if they’ll be the ones opening it themselves. The key is to have them open it with the base on the counter or table so it’s upright once the lid comes off.
25 Lunch Ideas to Pack in a Kids Thermos
Here are some of our hot lunch (and cold lunch!) ideas to send in a thermos.
- Pasta with marinara sauce
- Pasta with Broccoli Pesto
- Rice and beans
- Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- BBQ chicken
- Chicken nuggets
- Leftover pizza
- Pizza Rolls
- Cheesy Meat Buns
- Pizza Pockets with Broccoli
- Spinach Quesadillas
- Refried beans and tortillas
- Cheesy Rice
- Egg Muffins
- Scrambled eggs
- Oatmeal Muffins
- Pancakes with nut or seed butter
- Waffles with nut or seed butter
- Yogurt with granola
- Overnight Oats
- Yogurt with Sauteed Apples
- French Toast Sticks
TIP: You can find my top 50 recipes for kids lunches here.
Thermos Water Bottle for Packed Lunches
If you’re looking for an insulated water bottle to send with a packed lunch, I like this one from Kleen Kanteen. It’s 12 ounces, about $25, and super durable. It has a sport top or a screw top. We also love the Hydroflask straw bottle, which is easy for even a 1-year-old to drink from.
More Lunch Gear Reviews
Please comment below if you have a favorite thermos that didn’t make my list—I’d love to know!
This post was first posted July 2020.