How to Pack Safe Summer Lunches
Children look forward to the end of the school year when they can relax and play. Many children flock to Ottawa summer camps because of all the fun to be had when the weather turns warm. Keeping your child safe is important all year round, no matter where they spend their days, and that includes packing lunches that won’t make them sick.
Before you send your little ones off for a day of adventure, here are some tips for preparing food they can eat safely at lunchtime:
Keep It Clean
Spend at least 20 seconds washing your hands with soap and water before preparing food. Then wash your prep surface area, like countertops and cutting boards, as well as dishes and utensils with a solution of 5mL bleach to 1L water. If your children have already used their lunch bags and ice packs, wash them carefully too.
Watch Out For Perishables
While children are engaged in adventurous activities during the day at summer camp, bacteria can grow rapidly in their lunchboxes. For that reason, it’s smart to choose foods that don’t need to be refrigerated. If you do pack foods like meat, dairy products, and cheese, then it’s essential that you keep them cold. Even prepackaged food that contains preservatives needs to stay cold.
Say No To Leftovers
Forget about storing leftovers by not packing more food than your children will eat. Encourage them to throw away any remaining food, as well as food packaging such as foil, plastic wrap, and plastic bags to prevent cross contamination.
Store Things At The Right Temperature
Food does not need to be refrigerated if stored in a proper manner. However, to prevent food poisoning, it’s still necessary to keep food out of the danger zone (4 degrees C to 60 degrees C).One way to keep food cold during warm Ottawa summers is to prepare it and stick it in the refrigerator the night before. You can also freeze sandwiches until it’s time to head out the door to summer camp. Also, pack perishables with two cold sources, one at the top and one at the bottom. In addition to ice packs, you can use frozen juice boxes and frozen water bottles.
For hot food like stews, soups, and chili, use insulated containers. First, fill them with boiling water and let them stand a few minutes. Then empty the water and add steaming hot food. If the container remains closed until lunchtime, the food should be safe to eat.
Safe Room Temperature Foods
Foods like peanut butter, jelly, bread, cereals, and pickles can be stored safely at room temperature. When packing lunches for summer camp, include these options, and you won’t have to worry about the threat of bacteria.
Remember, the goal is to avoid sending children to summer camp with food exposed to temperatures between 4 degrees C and 60C. It takes just two hours at room temperature for perishable food to become unsafe.