It’s officially September, and we all know what that means – kids are back in school! Food safety might not be on the top of the list when you think about packing lunches, but it’s an essential part of planning a healthy meal. Whether it is a bag lunch for kids in the cafeteria or for your own lunch break at the office, here’s everything you need to know about packing a safe lunch.
Food safety starts in the kitchen. Always remember to clean, separate, cook and chill when preparing your meal. Wash your hands and any surfaces before cooking, and rinse fruits and vegetables. Separate raw meat from other food – that includes using separate cutting boards and storing them in different locations. When cooking, use a food thermometer to be sure your food is cooked thoroughly, and remember to chill leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours.
Keep It Cool – Or Warm!
If you have perishable foods as part of your lunch – meats, eggs, cheese or yogurt – be sure to have two cold sources packed in your bag. Frozen juice boxes or water work great as freezer packs. Also use an insulated lunchbox with perishable foods.
Looking to keep hot food hot? You can use an insulated lunch box for that too! Fill the lunchbox with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, then empty it and put in your hot food. Be sure to keep the lunchbox closed until it’s time to eat.
Always remember to leave your lunch in the refrigerator if you pack it the day before.
Pack disposable wipes for easy cleanup of hands and surfaces. Because foodborne illnesses can easily spread through containers, throw out any wrappers or disposable packaging.
Recipes to Get Started
- Caesar Steak Wraps
- Italian Turkey Panini
- Sirloin Pita Salad Sandwich
- For a healthy side: Fiesta Fruit Medley
- For a twist on the traditional meal: Healthy Mango Banana Smoothie
What tips or tricks to you have for packing an amazing lunch? Let us know in the comments!