As we come upon the back to school season, keep these key school lunch tips in mind.
Freeze your bread. My sister who makes five lunches every night, makes the sandwiches on frozen bread which defrosts by the time her kids eat lunch, but keeps the sandwich insides cooler. Yogurts and cheese can be frozen as well and left to defrost in the few hours before lunch.
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If you make lunch the night before, make sure to keep it refrigerated until it is time to walk out the door.
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When in doubt, throw it out. If you aren’t sure when you bought the turkey or salami, don’t take the risk. If bacteria are already lurking, a lunch bag is an ideal setting for them to grow.
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Ingredients that won’t go bad, and are great for school trips:
peanut butter and jelly
whole fruit and dried fruit
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If your child eats a lunch prepared at school, the following tips apply to them as well.
Remind kids to wash their hands before lunch, especially after using the bathroom. eColi, which is found in feces, is a common causative agent of food poisoning.
Teach them to keep their food off the table and on a napkin instead.
Avoid lunch sharing, especially with the increasing prevalence of food allergies.
When possible, kids should avoid sharing out of the same bag, especially during cold and flu season.
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Most common school lunch ingredients can spoil, even over a short period of time. Cheese, cold cuts, dairy products and salads with chicken, tuna and eggs are all perishable.
Food that goes unrefrigerated allows bacteria to multiply. If lunch is going to sit out for a while, especially when temperatures are warm, consider insulated lunch bags (great for the environment) and cold packs. As a bonus, the food will taste better and increase the chance your child actually eats the healthy meal you prepared.
Check out the slideshow above for more school lunch safety tips.