Save this list of kids lunch recipes to make packing and serving healthy kids lunches a little easier each week. With make-ahead and freezer-friendly options to serve to the kids at home or packed, these ideas will take some of the challenge out of the midday meal (or I hope they will at least!).

recipes for kids lunches in grid of 6

Kids Lunch Recipes

Making healthy foods ahead of time for lunch is one of the best ways to ensure our kids are eating well throughout the week—and that we’re not scrambling for lunch when everyone is hungry. These recipes are great to meal prep and they can be served to toddlers and big kids alike.

And even if you don’t find time ahead to make these recipes, you can prepare them in the morning or right before lunch to serve up an easy meal.

TIP: You can of course eat these foods yourself, too!

Lunch Ideas for Kids at Home

With kids who are home for lunch, having this stash of healthy recipes to make ahead of time can be a big win. I always find that lunchtime comes so quickly when I’m home with my kids, so the more I can have at least one healthy option ready and waiting, the better able I am to serve them healthy lunches.

I have these broken up my type of food to help you easily scroll through to find options that will work for you.

TIP: These lunches work at home, as well as packed for daycare or preschool.

packed lunch with muffin, cucumber, kiwi

Muffin and Quick Bread Recipes for Lunch

One of my very favorite ways to get ahead for lunches is to rely on healthy muffins or quick bread as the main, then add simple sides like fruits and veggies, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, or even a smoothie to round things out.

Favorite Apple Baked Oatmeal
This Apple Baked Oatmeal is delicious and hearty. It's delicate when warm, so let it cool fully before you slice it with a serrated knife. Serve it in slices like you would apple bread, or in a bowl to eat with a spoon or a fork.
Get the recipe
Favorite Applesauce Muffins
Perfectly spiced and just sweet enough, these Applesauce Muffins are a yummy breakfast or snack. We like these on their own, topped with nut or seed butter, or even with a smear of cream cheese. See what your littles like!
Get the recipe
mini applesauce muffins on pink plate
Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
These muffins are best with very ripe bananas (they should have a lot of brown spots, which indicate sweetness). Then, simply stir everything together in one bowl and bake up a batch of delicious Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins to share with the kids.
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banana chocolate chip muffins
Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins
These are delicious served warm soon after baking, at room temperature or even chilled, so see what your family prefers. They are naturally dairy-free and can be made gluten-free and egg-free as well. See the Notes section for details.
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Chocolate Protein Muffins (With Veggies!)
These simple blender muffins pack a serious nutrition punch and are dairy-free, with a nut-free option. I prefer the flavor of these once they are fully cooled and chilled in the fridge.
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healthy chocolate muffins cooling on wire rack
Sweet Spinach Muffins with Banana
These healthy muffins taste like a delicious banana muffin, but with the added nutrition of a big handful of spinach. These store well, so you can make them ahead of time and pull them out of the fridge or freezer to serve.
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spinach banana muffins on pink plate
Favorite Yogurt Muffins
This is an epic of a basic muffin recipe that you can then add flavor to in all sorts of ways—from fruit to veggies to chocolate chips. The batter is packed with protein too, so the muffins are great for breakfast or snack. (The allergy-friendly substitutions are listed in the Notes section at the bottom.)
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Healthy Chocolate Chip Muffins
Loaded with whole grains and protein, these healthy Chocolate Chip Muffins are a really great standard recipe to turn to whenever you're in the mood!
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Easy Veggie Muffins
Serve up veggies in a kid-friendly form with these SO-good Veggie Muffins. They have broccoli, carrots, protein, and kid-approved flavor!
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veggie muffins on gray towel
Pizza Muffins (with Veggies!)
These work well to make ahead and warm up for an easy lunch or dinner. These taste best served warm.
Get the recipe

TIP: You can find all of my best Healthy Muffins here.

zucchini egg cups with berries and crackers

Breakfast for Lunch Ideas

Mix up when you serve favorite breakfast foods by serving them for lunch. It’s an easy way to keep the kids interested and also make it easy on yourself to prepare their lunch!

So Good Spinach Egg Muffins
These mini Spinach Egg Muffins mix up in minutes and are one of our go-to easy meals. They're packed with iron and protein, and you can make them ahead and stash them in the fridge until you need them for the kids.
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Mini Egg Muffins with Cheese and Veggies
These tender Egg Muffins are packed with protein and vitamins—and can be made ahead of time! Add any veggie you like, whether carrots, butternut squash, broccoli, or spinach.
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Favorite Healthy Toddler Smoothie (with Veggies!)
Learn to customize yummy smoothies for your toddler by starting with one simple recipe, then adjusting based on which fruit and veggies you'd like to use.
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Easy Fruit-on-the-Bottom Yogurt
Learn how to make the best fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt with all kinds of fruit flavors—and with less sugar and for less money than buying it at the store. Scale this up or down according to how many servings you're planning to make. The directions here are for one small toddler-size serving.
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Overnight Oats with Yogurt and Berries
This overnight oats recipe makes two toddler-size breakfast portions (or 1 mama-size serving). Double it to make additional servings. 
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TIP: The egg muffins are super easy to bake and then reheat quickly to serve for lunch. Try them with a side of ketchup or salsa for dipping.

easy spinach quesadillas

Quesadillas and Burritos for Lunches

My oldest kiddo is a super fan of burritos and quesadillas so we tend to have them for lunch often—and I love to make big batches on the weekend to warm throughout the week.

Vegetarian Quesadillas with Beans and Cheese
You can make as few or as many of these easy quesadillas as you like.
Get the recipe
cut up vegetarian quesadillas for kids on plate
Easy Breakfast Burritos
With just 4 simple ingredients, these easy Breakfast Burritos can be made ahead and reheated, or made in minutes and served right away. They're a protein-packed breakfast to share with the kids.
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Easy Spinach Quesadillas
You can also do this with full size spinach if that’s what you’re able to find. Just discard any stems before starting the recipe.
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spinach quesadillas
Sweet Potato and Cheese Quesadillas
Serve these quesadillas with salsa, sour cream, and/or guacamole as desired. You can leave them as simple vegetarian quesadillas or add in a protein like chicken or beans.
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Easy Taco Roll Ups
This super simple riff on tacos takes just minutes to make, is really satisfying, and is great for lunch, dinner, or even snack. (This makes 6 rolled-up tacos, so you can adjust this as needed for your family.) 
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Taco roll ups on kids plate with sides.

TIP: You can pack any of these in a lunchbox or thermos as needed.

crispy baked chicken tenders on white and blue plate

Make-Ahead Proteins

Whether meat or vegetarian based, these easy protein options are perfect to prep ahead—either by a few days or a few minutes!

Crispy Baked Chicken Nuggets
These baked chicken nuggets have simple ingredients and a pleasantly crispy exterior. Aim to cut the chicken into similarly sized pieces so they bake evenly.
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baked chicken nuggets on plate with ketchup.
Easy Baked Chicken Tenders
These crispy Chicken Tenders are fast and versatile. To make these with panko breadcrumbs, use 1 cup and stir ¼ teaspoon salt into the flour before you dredge the chicken.
Get the recipe
crispy baked chicken tenders on white and blue plate
Cheesy Stuffed Meat Buns
These meat buns have all of the components of a cheeseburger, but are much easier for little kids to eat! Plus: They store well in the fridge and freezer so can be made ahead of time.
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meat buns
4-Ingredient Baked Chicken Meatballs
With just four simple and affordable ingredients, you can make tender Baked Chicken Meatballs to share with the kids. Bonus: You can tuck a veggie into the mix, and they are perfect to batch-cook and stash in the freezer!
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baked chicken meatballs on cookie sheet.
Homemade Chicken Nuggets (with Sweet Potato)
Crispy on the outside and tender in the middle, these Homemade Chicken Nuggets are both easy and delicious. You can prep the sweet potato up to 5 days ahead if that's easier for you, too. Try serving these with ketchup, ranch, or marinara sauce.
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Chicken nuggets on baking sheet after cooking.
Best Healthy Mini Meatballs
Classic Italian meatballs with kale tucked inside to help toddlers eat their greens! (You can of course use the more traditional parsley instead of kale if you prefer.)
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Best Healthy Mini Meatballs
Classic Italian meatballs with kale tucked inside to help toddlers eat their greens! (You can of course use the more traditional parsley instead of kale if you prefer.)
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Favorite Salmon Salad Sandwich
This salmon salad is packed with protein, healthy fats, and calcium and can be used as a dip or a spread for sandwiches. We use homemade relish in this recipe, but you can use any that you like the flavor of.
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TIP: Meatballs are one of my favorite recipes to batch cook and freeze for future meals.

healthy pasta salad in two bowls

Pasta Recipes for Lunch

I love to make an easy pasta recipe to have ready for the kids for lunch and all of these are great for adult lunches too.

Easy Broccoli Pesto (for Pasta and Pizza)
This will likely make enough for two meals. You can freeze the leftovers for a future meal. (This recipe was updated to improve the taste and method in April 2019.)
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broccoli pesto on spaghetti in blue bowl with pink fork
Easy Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese
Friends, meet my new favorite lightning fast dish. This Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese requires just 5 simple ingredients, zero prep work, and is just the yummiest pasta recipe! 
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sweet potato mac and cheese in bowls.
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (5-Ingredient)
With a simple cheese sauce—no standing and stirring over the stove here!—a solid dose of veggies, and a super creamy final result, this Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is a fast lunch or dinner option for toddlers. (And the rest of the family, too!)
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cauliflower mac and cheese on teal spoon
Easy Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe
This is an easy family dinner or lunch. I like to use Spinach Pesto for this, but any will work if you prefer to buy it pre-made from the store.
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Pasta Salad with Chicken
This simple Pasta Salad with Chicken works well anytime of the year, but the flavors are particularly great in summer. Try it for dinner, a potluck, or to meal-prep lunch.
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pasta salad with chicken in bowls.
Favorite Alphabet Soup
You can use ABC pasta, orzo, pastina, or ditalini—or any other very small pasta shape in this Alphabet Soup recipe. And you can start with fresh or frozen veggies. See below for options.
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TIP: Add frozen peas or broccoli to your pasta cooking water for the last two minutes when making boxed mac and cheese to easily add a veggie to the mix.

healthy zucchini fritters

Kids Lunch Recipes with Veggies

Serve up a veggie-packed main dish or add a simple side. We also like no-cook options like sliced cucumbers, sliced bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, avocado, snap peas, and shredded carrots.

Homemade Cauliflower Tots
With quinoa, cauliflower, and cheese, these healthy little tots are a great finger food for kids. This recipe makes about 20 tots, which is 4-6 servings for toddlers—or 1-2 servings for adults.
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cauliflower tots on white and red plate
Homemade Broccoli Tots (Better Than the Freezer Aisle!)
Crispy on the outside and tender in the middle, these tots are a seriously fun way to serve broccoli. You can cook the rice up to 5 days ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you're ready to bake the tots.
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homemade broccoli tots
Homemade Veggie Nuggets (with 3 Veggies!)
I like to prep the veggies and rice ahead of time so that the process of making the nuggets is a little quicker. You can of course do it all at once though!
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Easy Zucchini Fritters Recipe
We bake these Zucchini Fritters since they are easier to cook and easier to clean up. If you have a lot of zucchini, you can double the recipe to make a full muffin tin's worth!
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healthy zucchini fritters
Easy Zucchini Slice (to Share with the Kids)
Transform basic ingredients—including a pile of zucchini—into this protein-packed Zucchini Slice to share with the kids. It's an easy breakfast or lunch that stores well and is easy to make ahead. (See the Notes for options to up the flavor as desired.)
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Zucchini slice with veggies on pink kids plate
5-Ingredient Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Use your family’s favorite shape and type of pasta in this recipe. (We like elbows or mini shells!)
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TIP: I like to have roasted veggies on hand most weeks since they have natural sweetness and are good at room temp or warmed. Find all of my best recipes for veggies for lunch, including how to serve raw veggies to toddlers, here.

white divided kids plate with grilled cheese

Easy Sandwich Ideas

If your kids aren’t quite able to chew a sandwich with two pieces of bread quite yet, serve them open face or with the components deconstructed.

DIY Pizza Lunchables
Have more fun with lunch with this super quick and easy Pizza Lunchable idea. It's one of our favorite copycat recipes that makes it less expensive to recreate Lunchables at home…that you can even customize!
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homemade pizza lunchable on counter.
Easiest Homemade Uncrustables
You can make one sandwich at a time, or make a batch of a few to stash in the freezer. Adjust this as needed for your preference.
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Easy Turkey Wrap Recipe (to Share with the Kids)
Roll up a few simple ingredients to make this delicious Turkey Wrap recipe in minutes. It's a great lunch wrap for home or school, and you can easily adjust the ingredients to suit the preferences of your child. This makes one wrap, so scale up as desired.
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Easy Hummus Wrap (to Share with the Kids)
Quickly combine a few simple ingredients to make a really yummy lunch wrap. This recipe makes one wrap, so increase the serving size as necessary.
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hummus wraps on white plates with apple slices

TIP: You can find my full list of Kids Sandwich Ideas and more easy lunch recipes in my Yummy Toddler Lunches ebook.


Pizza for Lunch Ideas

Using the flavors of pizza to make easy lunches is fun and kid-friendly. And most of these ideas are super simple too!

Homemade Pesto Pizza Rolls
With just 5 simple ingredients, you can bake Pizza Rolls with delicious flavor from pesto. These are versatile, perfect for any age, and a great make-ahead lunch or dinner option.
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pizza rolls on wooden plate
Favorite Pizza Bites
Fluffy pizza bites are a delicious lunch or dinner option—and you can customize the filling to please your kids! We like these with a little side of warmed marinara sauce for dipping.
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Favorite Pizza Rolls (with Spinach and Cheese)
Be sure to grease your pan well and roll the dough up fairly tightly around the fillings for best results. (But it's okay if they don't look perfect when they go into the pan!) 
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10-Minute Flatbread Pizza (Just 3 Ingredients!)
For delicious homemade pizza without the work and in a lot less time, Flatbread Pizza to the rescue. Adjust this for allergies as you need.
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Pizza Pockets with Broccoli and Cheese
If you’re using Homemade Pizza Dough, make it at least an hour before you plan to assemble the pockets. If using store-bought, let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes so it’s not super cold when you try to form the pockets.
Get the recipe
pizza pockets with broccoli and cheese

TIP: Find my full list of Pizza Ideas for Lunch.


Best Snack Recipes for Lunches

I’m a HUGE fan of snack lunches for the kids, where you assemble a mix of snacks to make a lunch (sort of like a kid version of a cheese plate). You can do it with any store bought snacks, but these homemade ones make nice options too.

Easy Homemade Granola Bars
We like to have these granola bars as a snack or toddler breakfast with milk or a smoothie—and they're an excellent lunch box component too. You can make them plain or choose a flavor to add!
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Quick and Easy No-Bake Granola Bars
You can make these ahead and store in the fridge or freezer and have grab and go snacks on hand for days/weeks!
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no bake granola bars sliced
Healthy Pumpkin Bars Recipe
These bars are tender when warm out of the oven, so do be sure to let them cool completely before slicing.
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sliced pumpkin bars on cutting board
Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins (Little Bites Copycat)
Moist tender Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins that taste as good as store bought, but have a little extra nutrition? Sign. Me. Up. These muffins are seriously delicious and are a must-make if you have fans of Little Bites in your house!
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Easiest Animal Crackers Recipe
If you use larger cookie cutters, you may need to bake on the longer end of the baking time—and mini cookie cutters on the shorter end. This makes a relatively small batch, so double it if you want extras to last all week!
Get the recipe

TIP: Learn more about making healthy snack meals here.


Best Tips for Packing Lunches in a Lunchbox

Packing leftover chicken, meatballs, pasta, and more can bring up some questions, so these tips should help!

  • Pack leftover cooked chicken, chicken nuggets, or tenders to be eaten chilled or warm in a thermos.
  • Pack quesadillas, burritos, or any other dish that’s better warmed in a thermos.
  • Cut up muffins, sandwiches, and any other baked goods or breads into cubes if it’s easier for your child to eat them that way.
  • Pack smoothies in a reusable pouch to send with lunch. (You can also make them right before lunch to serve at home.)

Kid-Friendly Lunch Ideas for School

Packing lunches for kids will vary according to your own unique child, so do keep in mind the preferences of your kiddo and adjust your lunch plan accordingly. I try not to send any brand new foods in a lunchbox since the kids don’t have much time to eat them AND they are likely very busy chatting with friends.

TIP: And aim to pack foods that are easy to eat—put yourself in your kid’s shoes as you pack everything and make things easier to open, access, and eat as needed.


School Lunch Ideas for Picky Eaters

One last consideration for pickier kids: Keep their lunches simple. It’s also okay if they don’t have a huge variety at their midday meal since they may also be dealing with the demands of socializing—which is a lot of work for some kids!

You don’t need to make Pinterest-worthy lunches. Just ones that your kids will eat and enjoy!

Related Recipes

I’d love to hear any lunch tips you have so please comment below to share. I love hearing what works for your families and I appreciate all feedback!

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50 Easy Kids Lunch Recipes

Having the option to assemble easy lunches from foods you have on hand is one of the best ways to shortcut prep for this meal. Below you'll find our approach to making muffin lunches. Refer to the post for additional recipe ideas.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Cuisine American
Course lunch
Calories 428kcal
Servings 1


  • 2 mini muffins
  • ½ cup diced fruit (such as strawberries, kiwi, melon, blueberries, or peaches)
  • ½ cup veggies (such as thinly sliced cucumber or bell pepper, or leftover cooked veggies)
  • 1 ounce cheese (or cooked chicken, shrimp, beans, or other protein)
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  • Add all of the foods to a lunchbox or separate containers. (If packing leftover veggies, you can warm them and pack in a thermos.)
  • Add a drink if needed and pack in an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack.



  • Cut up muffins (or sandwiches and any other baked goods or breads) into cubes if it’s easier for your child to eat them that way.
  • Pack smoothies in a reusable pouch to send with lunch as an added food to go with this lunch. (You can also make them right before lunch to serve at home.)
  • Make a batch of muffins on the weekend and store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer until ready to use.
  • Swap in savory muffins like Pizza Muffins, Veggie Muffins, or Egg Muffins to vary this idea.


Serving: 1g, Calories: 428kcal, Carbohydrates: 65g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 28mg, Sodium: 644mg, Potassium: 564mg, Fiber: 13g, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 4919IU, Vitamin C: 52mg, Calcium: 537mg, Iron: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This post was first published July 2018.

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  1. Thank you for these recipes! I have found so much helpful information and will be using them for my little girl who is in Pre-k this year. This site was up at the top of my google feed when I searched and I found everything I wanted to know, and it was easy to navigate. I appreciate all of the time and effort you have put into making these recipes available! I follow you on IG and love your posts. Thanks again!

  2. I’ve used several of your recipes and so far my picky 18 month old has loved each one. Super excited to try some more and thanks so much for offering such a wide range of foods and recipes. You rock.

  3. I love this list but I do have a question about packing non liquids in a thermos to keep warm. I’ve read it is not safe because the thermos cannot keep foods at a safe temperature unless it’s liquid.

    1. Interesting—I’ve not heard that. Do you remember where you heard it? I’ll look into it though!

    2. Per the USDA, hot foods packed in a thermos should be safe if they are put into an insulated lunch bag and kept closed until lunchtime (the temp should be 140 degrees F so it should be hot when it goes in). There’s more here

      1. I do my best to offer a wide range of options. There’s no way to make a list that will please every kiddo since they’re all so unique:)