10 Ways to Keep School Lunch Safe

Chances are, if you’re stuck in the rut of making school lunch day after day you’re more worried about what to put in it than avoiding food-borne illness, but each year an unknown number of kids are sickened by food that sat in the cubby or locker too long. No wonder PB&J on Wonder Bread got so popular; it’s unlikely any living creature could survive in that stuff.
Here are some tips to avoid feeding your kiddo a petri dish full of micro-organisms.
  1. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Use insulated lunch boxes with a thermos or freeze pack as needed.
  2. Life begins at 40, meaning dangerous bacteria grow best between 40 degrees and 140 degrees — pretty common in packed lunches that sit in warm classrooms for hours.
  3. Send pantry-safe foods packed in easy-to-open containers, like tuna or almond butter that can be eaten with bread or crackers.
  4. Boxed milk or juice sold unrefrigerated is a safe bet. You can freeze these (as well as a water bottle) ahead of time and use them as cold packs. As they defrost they’ll keep the lunch chilled.
  5. Sandwiches made with lunch meat, hummus, tuna or egg salad can be made the night before and frozen; they’ll defrost by lunch time.
  6. Ditto for leftovers from dinner the night before. If they love your homemade mac ‘n cheese, freeze a portion and pop it in tomorrow’s lunch.
  7. Dried and fresh fruits like apples, bananas, oranges and grapes  can be kept safely at room temperature. But all fresh fruits, even those that will be peeled, must be washed.
  8. Teach your child to toss the leftovers. Food saved for an after school snack may be teeming with bacteria by the end of the day.
  9. Wash your hands and countertops before making lunch. Even if you’re bleary-eyed and half asleep.
  10. Encourage kids to wash hands before eating, but if it’s not possible provide a small bottle of hand sanitizer for quick de-bugging.

And remember; even if your packed lunch isn’t perfect chances are it beats that old school staple, mystery meat.

Email This Post Email This Post

Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

Warning: Illegal string offset 'echo' in /home/mamasonc/public_html/mama/wp-content/themes/hybrid/library/extensions/custom-field-series.php on line 157

Leave a Reply




With One or Both of Us

Go to AskDrMama.com & AskMamaEllen.com for the scoop!

Phone • Internet • Your Home or Group

Watch This!

Teach your kids to step in and step up when they see a classmate being teased. Show them how to respond and tell them what to say. Let's try to make our world a little kinder and a little warmer. Please?

What You Said

  • FirstBarry: I have noticed you don’t monetize your website, don’t waste your traffic, you can earn...
  • Rebecca Benham: My son woke up with bumps on his stomach help
  • Chelie Belie: AND up the street there’s a psychotic IT that is awe-struck by me! Walks by my property carrying...
  • Chelie Belie: I live next door to Ned Flanders–how would you like that??
  • Maggie sullivan: I have a neighbor, will holler and wave at me if i am near porch but if i try to sit in the yard, or...
  • Ellen Schrier: Thank you so much! Please come back often!
  • Ellen Schrier: Hi Lisa, Sorry for the very late response. We are sorry to hear about your daughter and are sure that...
  • Lisa jacobs: My daughter was in a car accident and now has a concussion. She is plan to go to Mexico City which is a...
  • RF: Well my baby had her first two bottom theeth at 10 months old and i tought so far so good and then now at 11...
  • ofertas cine: That is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise info… Thanks...

Just so you know

The Mama ButtonThe information provided by MamasOnCall is not intended as a substitute for professional advice, but is for information purposes only. You assume full responsibility for the health and well-being of your family. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical or psychiatric condition.