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63 Thermos lunch

How Long Does Food Last in a Thermos

Thermoses allow us to switch things up and enjoy a nice hot lunch, whether it’s your favorite leftovers or homemade soup or even keep items like smoothies or yogurt parfaits chilled!

The questions “how long is it safe to keep my food hot in a thermos?” and “how long will food last in a thermos?”, or “what thermos containers are best?” are notable concerns for many parents packing school lunches.

Properly packing hot and cold food into a thermos container is essential in ensuring that your food will be safe to eat by the time lunch rolls around so let’s go over both methods. Since packing cold foods is super simple, we’ll start there.

When it comes to packing milk, smoothies, or a yogurt parfait as long as the food does not sit at a temperature above 40F you are good to go. Before packing cold food, you do need to chill the thermos, which can is done by placing the thermos container in the freezer overnight, once your food is packed and sealed place it in the lunch bag along with a freezer pack. Ta-da!

Now onto the hot meals! Ever heated your food in the morning, packed it in a thermos and by lunch it’s was cold? Yup, me too but before you throw away that thermos container watch the video below to see if you are correctly packing hot lunches.

As you saw in the video, before packing hot food into a thermos, it needs to be HOT! Remember that hot lunch we talked about earlier? Yes that one, well it’s likely that your food wasn’t properly heated before being packed into the thermos. The good news is that there is nothing wrong with your thermos, hoorah!

How long can food last in a thermos and still be safe to eat?

Given that you cooked the food to a safe temperature and then warmed it up to a piping hot temperature, the food inside the thermos container is not likely to go bad.

But because I love you guys, I’ve researched proper food preparation and storage so that you can safely pack hot lunches for your family! Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Bacteria grows quicker between 40F and 140F, so perishable foods should NOT stay at that temperature range longer than 3 hours (therefore, hot foods should be heated to 212F a.k.a “too hot to handle” before packing in a thermos).
  • Thermoses must be preheated before filling. This step often skipped, but it’s easy to do and worth it on cold winter ways when you want to pack leftover homemade Mac and Cheese or Chicken Alfredo.

Here’s how it’s done:

1. Boil water
2. Fill thermos container with boiled water, cover.
3. Wait 5 minutes and warm food in the microwave while waiting.
4. Empty the thermos
5. Place piping hot food into thermos, close.
6. Pack and enjoy!

Food packed inside any lunch container should be thoroughly cooked through, so no raw eggs, onions or undercooked meats or raw fish.

Now for the thermos testing.

Below are my four thermos container recommendations. Each container was tested three times with the same method: Heating soup to 210F, packing it into the thermos and waiting 5 hours before checking the soup’s temperature. The results:

Purple thermos lunch

Thermos Funtainer 10 ounce

Great for kids, easy to open and fits a good portion of food – 1 1/2 cups! The temperature of the soup was 210F when placed into the thermos, and after 5 hours, it was 138F –perfectly warm and good enough to eat.
Buy the Thermos Funtainer here. 



stainless steel thermosThermos FOOGO Stainless Steel 10-ounce

Similar to the Funtainer (with the exception of a rubberized grip) and great for kids. Totally worth purchasing! The temperature of the soup was 210F when placed into the thermos, and after 5 hours, it was 134F.
Buy the Thermos Foogo here.


Lunchbots 16-ouncestainless steel thermos

I love and own this one merely for the size. It has a wide opening which makes it more like a bowl and easier to eat out of. However, it can be a little more difficult for younger kids to open because of the wide lid. It also holds a lot of food, 2 cups!
The temperature of the soup was 210F when placed into the thermos, and after 5 hours, it was 130F.
Buy the Lunchbots Food Jar here.


Stanley 17-ouncestainless steel thermos

This one WORKS! The temperature of the soup was 210F when placed into the thermos, and after 5 hours, it was 165F!
It was almost too hot to eat, but after a few minutes of being open, the soup was perfect! It’s also great for both kids and adults, easy to open and since it’s 17 ounces that means more room for food, about 2 cups.
Buy the Stanley Insulated Jar here.


You can’t go wrong with any of the options above for packing lunches. A thermos is a terrific vessel for repurposing leftovers and sending hot and cold foods for lunch!

If you need ideas to fill the thermos containers, check out our meal plans. Our real food dinners can yield leftovers, and our lunches will add variety to any lunchbox, guaranteed.

Plus, you get a shopping list, a meal-prep sheet with a breakdown of what to prep when… it’s practically a kitchen assistant at pennies per day.

One thing to consider prior to sending food in a thermos for the first time is to let your child try it at home first, so they are comfortable opening and closing the container own their own.

What are some of your favorite things to pack inside a thermos? 


Thermos lunch Thermos lunch Thermos lunch stainless steel thermos stainless steel thermos stainless steel thermos Purple thermos lunch stainless steel hello kitty thermos

6 Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Chicken and Pasta Skillet Meal - MOMables.com

Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Chicken and Pasta Skillet Meal

If you love Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Pasta, you'll love this quick and easy recipe! A delicious 30 minute meal.

Aren’t we all looking for the latest, greatest way to get dinner on the table?  Quick weeknight meals never go out of style and this Sun Dried Tomato Chicken & Pasta Skillet meal is one everyone will love.

Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Skillet Meal - An easy and quick midweek skillet meal everyone will love!

The beauty of this Creamy Sun Dried Tomato and Chicken Pasta Skillet Meal recipe is that it tastes like it took a lot more time to bring together than it actually does.  Simple ingredients like sun dried tomatoes, half and half, fresh basil and chicken breasts combine with penne pasta to create a filling, quick meal your family is sure to enjoy.

Related: Top 5 Lunchboxes We’ve Tested

You can even use adapt to your family’s needs by using gluten-free pasta! Check out this quick video and see how easy this skillet meal is to make.

As always, any leftovers make for delicious thermos lunches the next day!

For more recipes, like this skillet meal, to bring variety to your family dinner table subscribe to our meal plans at MOMables.com

Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Chicken and Pasta Skillet Meal

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Chicken and Pasta Skillet Meal - MOMables.com
  • Author: MOMables.com
  • Yield: 6


  • 8 ounces penne pasta
  • 4 ounce jar sundried tomatoes in oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb chicken breasts, cubed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon Spanish paprika
  • 1 cup half and half, heavy cream, or whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil or ¼ cup fresh basil or 1 tablespoon pesto sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons oil, for cooking


  1. In a large pot, bring pasta water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Once cooked, reserve 1 cup of pasta water and drain.
  3. Set pasta aside.
  4. On a cutting board, finely chop sun-dried tomatoes.
  5. Season chicken with salt and paprika.
  6. In a large 10-12 inch skillet over medium heat, heat up some oil and sauté chicken until it’s browned on all sides and cooked through.
  7. Add sun-dried tomato pieces and garlic, and sauté for an additional minute.
  8. Add half and half to the skillet.
  9. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to combine liquid and sund-dried tomatoes.
  10. Once a thick sauce is formed, add dried basil (or pesto sauce). If you are using fresh basil, add it in the last step.
  11. Add cooked pasta to the skillet and combine with sauce.
  12. Add ½ up reserved water, mix throughout to thin out the sauce. If it’s too thick, add in additional reserved pasta water.
  13. Top with additional basil and Parmesan cheese prior to serving.




Veggie Mac and Cheese

Are you looking for more kid-friendly veggie recipes? This Veggie Macaroni and Cheese recipe is a winner!

Veggie Macaroni and Cheese Soup Thermos Lunch Idea via MOMables.com

I love thermos lunches. In the fall, winter, and early spring, I try to have a thermos lunch once a week in our school lunch menus. A good thermos school lunch tells my kids that mom wanted them to have a homemade “meal” for lunch that day.

Related: Top 5 Thermos Containers We’ve Tested

I’ve tried filling them with lasagna, spaghetti, and soups, and they are typically very receptive. On the other hand, should I have the bright idea of filling the thermos with leftover grilled vegetables from dinner, the thermos would come back untouched.

I don’t know what it is about the kids + veggies combination. Why does it have to be so hard to get them to eat more veggies?

Since my kids are very picky, I’m constantly trying to find ways in which I can sneak more of them into their diet (hidden, cooked differently, in their favorite recipe, baked—you name it, I’ll try it).

I love my thermos containers. I can pack a filling lunch that is easy to eat in their 20-minute lunch period.

Some of the other things I’m always keeping in mind when creating MOMables menus are ways to revamp leftovers, help my subscribers stay on a budget, and use real and convenient ingredients.

I wrote a post in this column about why I am on a mission to help others feed their kids better.

One of the reasons the use of more real ingredients in our diet plays a big role is because my daughter is allergic to disodium phosphate and chemically-derived nitrates. For this reason, I don’t buy things that have orange powdered cheese or processed cheese (those triangular chips, orange puffs, blue box mac and cheese, fake block cheese—it seems to be everywhere!) or processed meats cured with chemical nitrates.

If I’m purchasing a “boxed” anything, the product can’t have artificial flavors, synthetic preservatives, or GMO ingredients (the final one is by choice). I thoroughly scan each label before they go in my grocery cart, a quick process that can save me a trip to the emergency room.

Veggie Macaroni and Cheese Soup Thermos Lunch Idea via MOMables.com

As a full-time working mom who often travels, I also have a few items in my pantry that dad can whip up quickly, insert in their lunch, or pull out of the freezer for lunch or dinner.

This soup is a delicious and hearty dinner for the family but also perfect for a school lunch. Last month, I had 368 moms in my recipe-testers group perfect the recipe so your kids could enjoy it too. Bonus: It’s just $1.24 per thermos! Win-win.

Veggie Mac and Cheese

Your kids are going to love this cheesy veggie mac and cheese in their thermos!

  • Author: MOMables.com
  • Yield: 4-6
  • Category: Soups


With boxed macaroni and cheese:

  • 1 6-ounce box natural or organic macaroni and cheese
  • 1 32-ounce package reduced-sodium chicken broth/stock
  • 1 16-ounce bag frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot blend
  • 1/4 cup whole milk or half and half
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

To use pasta:

  • 1 1/2 cups dry macaroni pasta (or other)
  • 1 32-ounce package reduced-sodium chicken broth/stock
  • 1 16-ounce bag frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot blend
  • 1/4 cup whole milk or half and half
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese


  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
  2. In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Add the vegetables, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium.
  3. Add the cooked macaroni and cheese to the veggies and broth, add the milk and cheese. Stir well to combine until the cheese is melted, turn off the heat, and serve.

This was a sponsored post by Annie’s Homegrown. All opinions, as always are my own.