We live in Southern California in a suburb where temperatures reach above 100 degrees in the summer. Out here, our summer doesn’t conclude until the end of September. However, with most schools starting mid-August, it is still very hot for the first month of school. This can pose a problem for packaging a lunch with perishables. These five tips can keep your child’s lunch from spoiling and, more importantly, prevent food borne illnesses.
In the summer, I often freeze tubes of yogurt. In addition to being less messy, this is a good way to keep yogurt from spoiling. Juice boxes are another great thing to freeze. Along with keeping the rest of your lunch cool, kids almost get a slushy-like drink for lunch. Frozen grapes are also refreshing. While frozen items will defrost a bit before lunch, they will still stay nice and cool.
Ice packs keep items cold. I like the ones that are “sweat proof” so you don’t have to worry about wetness in your child’s lunch bag. Also, look for one that is flexible so it can fit around food items. My favorites are the ice packs from Kids Konserve. If it can fit, use one ice pack on one side of the lunch and another on the other side.
An insulated lunch bag helps keep cold items cold and warm items warm. Look for one that is easy to wipe down and has a roomy compartment along with a side compartment for things like utensils or money. I like the animal ones from Skip Hop. A stainless steel thermos is great for things like soup and spaghetti.
Wrapping sandwiches in foil or sandwich wrap can help keep it at the right temperature. Foil also helps keep drinks colder.
Know the Limit
If it is an extremely hot day, stick to non-perishable or less perishable items. 100 percent dried fruit strips, soy butter and jelly, whole apples, oranges and a protein bar without chocolate are all good bets. Keeping your child’s lunch in the refrigerator as long as possible is another way to make sure your child’s food is safe.
Kids’ lunch times may vary. Temperatures will also change over the course of the school year. When in doubt, pack a lunch and do a test run at home. Leave the lunch of the counter and then test the temperature. If you succeeded, then you can see if the lunch passes the picky kid test.
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