1. Wash your hands!
The first and most important step in preparing lunch is washing your hands thoroughly to help decrease the spread of bacteria.
2. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
The easiest way to keep food cold is by including an ice pack in the lunch kit (or a frozen juice box!). Another option is to to send hot soups or cold drinks in a thermos to help maintain the right temperature. If you find it challenging to keep a meal warm, send it to school cold and ask the lunch monitor to help warm it up.
3. Pack foods that don’t require refrigeration.
Sandwiches made with nut/seed butter, whole fruits, fruit cups, trail mix and whole-wheat crackers are some great options.
4. Keep your child’s lunch bag clean to avoid cross-contamination.
Clean the lunch bag and all utensils before and after each use. This will reduce the risk of bacteria growing in the bag and transferring onto the food.
5. Pre-wash fruits and vegetables before packing them into the lunch bag.
That way they are ready to eat as soon as your child cracks open their lunch bag!
For more information, visit Safe school lunches by the Government of Canada.
by Rola Zahr, MPH, RD