When it comes to packed lunches, there’s a lot that can go wrong. Soggy sandwiches, crushed chips, and warm cheeses can quickly ruin a lunchtime experience. And aside from just being a bummer, a packed lunch fiasco can even be unsafe! If refrigerated foods aren’t kept cold enough in your lunch bag, they can move into a temperature range that promotes bacterial growth. Yuck!
But packing a lunch that is both safe and delicious is a breeze if you follow a few simple steps!
My first rule of thumb for a packed lunch is to freeze what you can. A homemade smoothie, a juice box, fruit cocktail, or yogurt can all be frozen to help keep your lunch cold, and should thaw out just in time for lunch!
That leads us to the first step of packing your lunchbox…
Layer 1 – Frozen Item
A frozen juice pouch or box works great, but you could use an ice pack instead if you prefer.
Layer 2 – Refrigerated Entree and Sides
Next, place your sandwich or entree on top of your frozen item of choice. Place your sides (like a fruit cup, veggies, string cheese, etc.) next to the entree.
Layer 3 – Another Frozen Item
Place an ice pack or other frozen item on top of the second layer. Your refrigerated items are now “sandwiched” in between a layer of frozen items to help keep them cool until lunch time!
Layer 4 – Non-Refrigerated Items
Finally, stack your items that don’t need to be kept cool on top. This could include crackers, fruit snacks, chips, or whatever.
Here’s a cross-section view of the layers, just for added clarity…
Now that you know the method to use for packing up your lunch box, all that’s left to do is decide exactly what you’re going to pack!
Here are a few links to tasty lunchbox-friendly recipes to help get you inspired (and maybe a bit hungry!)
Lunchbox Recipes and Ideas
from One Good Thing by Jillee
from Good Housekeeping
from Hungry Happens
from The Kitchn
from Laura Fuentes
from So How’s It Taste
from The Creative Bite
from Happy Money Saver
from Simple as That