As has already been pointed out on this page, a meal’s being hot in the literal sense is not sufficient for its being a hot meal, in the idiomatic sense. Toasting a sandwich just before its consumption, for example, increases its temperature, but does not turn it into a hot meal. Being hot is, however, a necessary condition for being a hot meal: cold food, even in a substantial amount, would never constitute a hot meal.
Apart from that necessary condition, our willingness to apply the label has more to do with the way the food is consumed than with the characteristics of the food itself. We will generally decline to apply it to anything that is consumed while standing up, and to the food that is consumed at a table that has something other than dining as its primary purpose (e.g. food consumed while working at one’s desk in an office). Hot food consumed while sitting at (what in one’s culture counts as) a dining table is the paradigm of a hot meal; the notion may be extended to sitting at something that does not fully fit the definition of dining tables as long it sufficiently resembles them. Finger food, also, never counts as a hot meal; as pointed out by Oldbag, having a hot meal involves the use of utensils for at least some of its components.
The plausibility of this analysis is supported by the fact that if we are asked whether a hamburger or a burrito counts as a hot meal, we are likely to hesitate, and then, if we reflect on it more, say that it depends. If somebody gets for lunch a hamburger or a burrito that is presented in a wrapper, and then eats it while holding it in one’s hands, we would think it misleading to say that he has had a hot meal (as suggested in a comment by Hot Licks). On the other hand, a hamburger or a burrito served on a plate, with side dishes, in a full-service restaurant, probably does count as a hot meal.
How did a term that, taken literally, concerns only the temperature, come to carry such implications about the manner of consumption? The connection between the two is that many hot dishes (soups, stews, pasta) call for sitting down at a dining table, and using utensils; they would be very difficult to eat otherwise.