It's time to switch from indoor lunch packing to preparing snacks and meals that will keep your kiddo hydrated, nutrients replenished and energy levels up in the summer heat. That nauseous and dizzy feeling that comes with heat exhaustion is no fun at all. We have some great tips for stocking your fridge, keeping foods at safe temperatures and making lunches that your child will look forward to eating and help them get through a hot summers day.
Food Safety Tips
How to Keep Foods Cool
Summer lunch items tend to be cold or room temperature foods. You want to pack foods that are nutritious, give kids energy and also help them cool down. It's important to keep foods like meats and dairy cool so foods don't spoil and make us sick.
Using the following lunch packing tools will keep your lunch fresh and safe for 4-6 hours.
1. Use both an insulated bag and ice packs. Adding a cold or frozen juice box can also help to maintain a nice cold temperature in your lunchbox.
2. Bacteria can build up in drink bottles, especially in the heat. Wash water bottles thoroughly and use a good quality insulated water bottle to keep drinks cool longer.
3. The insulated thermal jar that you used for soups in the winter will also keep fresh fruits and yogurts cool in the summer heat.
Toss the leftovers. Don't take any chances with foods that could have been exposed to heat.
These foods are not only the top hydrating foods and seasonal but they also happen to make great items for lunches.
Summer fruits like watermelons, cantaloupes, strawberries, peaches all have high water content but also provide a variety of vitamins C, A and Potassium, which are all important replenishing nutrients. Pack in a cool insulated jar and combine to create refreshing fruit salad. Prep ahead to make it easy to dish out portions as needed throughout the week.
Veggies & Dip
A kid favorite can be a life saver on a hot day. Celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots and red bell peppers are all perfect dipping veggies that have healthy nutrients to keep your child energized. Yogurt dips and other protein dips like hummus or nut butters satisfy hunger and give tired muscles a little boost.
Sandwiches & Wraps
The combinations are endless and even the pickiest eaters usually have a go-to sandwich. Sandwiches come in all shapes and sizes - pita, wraps, rolls or sliced bread. Prep ahead and have grilled chicken and vegetables for an easy wrap. Classic options like turkey lettuce and tomato are easy assembly especially when packing multiple lunches. You can't go wrong with PB&J. Go the green goddess route and have chopped veggies, cheese and hummus stocked in the fridge for a crunchy nutrient packed sandwich. When packing cold cuts or foods that might spoil it's important to include an ice pack in your child's lunch box.
Dessert in Disguise
Everyone looks forward to a sweet treat after a meal. Make mini muffins with nuts, dried fruit and chocolate chips and freeze them. This time of year zucchini bread is also a favorite! These are easy add ons for lunch and a welcome treat.