15 Things to Pack in Your Thermos for a Hot Lunch (Besides Soup)

updated Jul 25, 2022
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While a crisp salad or cold sandwich for lunch can satisfy on most occasions, sometimes what you really crave is something warm. No microwave or stovetop for reheating? No problem – just pack lunch in a Thermos. Easy peasy. It’ll keep food warm for hours.

Soup has a way of being the default, often at the top of the list of Thermos lunch ideas, but last night’s minestrone is just one of so many warm lunchtime options. While most leftovers can be packed up, warm bean salads, meatballs, pasta, and even grilled cheese are all fair game. Here are 15 Thermos lunch ideas to get your started.

1 / 15
Warm French Lentil Salad with Bacon & Herbs
Lentil salads are always a hearty option for lunch, but when served warm, they become even more satisfying.
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2 / 15
Penne Pomodoro
Only five ingredients go into the fresh-tasting basil tomato sauce that's tossed with penne pasta.
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3 / 15
Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew
This hearty plant-based stew yields a big batch, which also means you'll have a warm lunch for the days ahead. Just give it a quick reheat in the morning before adding to your thermos.
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4 / 15
Slow Cooker Ginger Chicken Congee
Not only is this an ultra-comforting lunch, but it takes next to no effort to make.
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5 / 15
Italian Meatballs
Pack some crusty bread for dipping and dunking. Or bring along a split roll and turn it into a hot sub.
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6 / 15
Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Cut your grilled cheese sandwich into sticks and pack in a thermos, so when lunchtime rolls around the cheese is still warm and gooey.
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7 / 15
Tomato-Braised Lentils with Broccoli Rabe

To guaranteed easy eating at lunchtime, you can always skip the broccoli rabe, or cut it into bite-size pieces ahead of time.
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8 / 15
Vegetarian Mushroom Stew
A hearty mix of mushrooms, nutty chickpeas, and greens in a thick and creamy coconut and tomato broth.
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9 / 15
Chicken Taco Chili
I highly recommend packing some crispy tortilla chips for dipping.
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10 / 15
Chicken Tenders
Skip the drive-thru, restaurant, or deli counter, and get your crispy chicken on at home.
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11 / 15
Double Spinach Pasta Casserole with Pesto & Asiago Cheese
An easy, freezer-friendly pasta bake that's filled with pesto, Asiago cheese, and baby spinach.
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12 / 15
Sheet Pan Veggie Frittata
This cheesy, veggie-packed big-batch frittata is the best way to meal prep breakfast.
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13 / 15
Chicken and Green Bean Stir-Fry with Basil-Sour Cream Sauce
This is a great option for when you want a warm veggie-heavy lunch that's not a salad.
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14 / 15
White Beans with Greens and Yolky Egg
Instead of a poached egg, a jammy soft-boiled egg (or even a hard-boiled egg) is a great way to top off this lunch.
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15 / 15
Miso Breakfast Oatmeal
Oatmeal isn't just for breakfast - these savory oats make an ideal lunch option.
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