Queensland Summers are known to be HOT, so keeping kids lunchboxes ‘food safe’ when temperatures soar well into the 30’s throughout the school day can be a challenge.
Cold foods like meat, chicken, fish, eggs, tofu, cooked pasta, rice and dairy products such as milk and yoghurt need to be kept cold to reduce the risk of food poisoning.
So how do you create a lunchbox for the Queensland Summer that is easy, healthy and food safe all at the same time?
Our Healthy Eats Nutritionist and Community Development Officer Jaclyn Coffey from Life Education Queensland shares her tips for creating cool lunches this summer.
Try to include a frozen lunch item. Many fruits are great to eat when frozen and will help to keep lunchboxes cool. Fruit that freezes well includes pineapple, grapes and berries but there are plenty of others you can try.
You can also freeze lunch items like yoghurt pouches, muffins or slices such as zucchini or sweet potato. These can be popped into the school lunchbox frozen, keeping them cool and fresh until lunchtime.
An insulated cooler bag packed with an ice brick does a great job at keeping food cool throughout the day.
Remind your child to make sure the cooler bag is zipped up after use and stored away from direct sunlight to extend the life of the cold pack. If food items in the lunchbox are also frozen the combination will create an even greater fridge-like effect and ensure your child’s lunch is fresh and safe at lunchtime.
A thermos or insulated drink bottle is great at keeping drinks and other liquids cool.
Fill a thermos with icy water and keep it in the fridge overnight before packing the next day as an icy thirst quencher. You could even make a fruit smoothie using blended frozen fruit, yoghurt and milk, pop it in a thermos in the fridge overnight and then pack in the morning for a cold, delicious and refreshing morning tea drink.
Consider including lunchbox items that don’t need to be kept cold to be safe.
Try wholegrain crackers, washed whole vegetables and fruit, nut-free trail mix, plain popcorn, or dried fruit. These can also be added in as an after-school snack for kids with busy schedules.
Consider prepping and freezing sandwiches the night or couple of days before they need to go into the lunchbox.
There are plenty of fillings that freeze well including chicken and pesto, turkey and cranberry sauce and ham and cheese.
Salad items can be added to the sandwich quickly in the morning or can be included alongside the sandwich as a side.
Looking for some more great lunchbox tips and ideas? Jaclyn has curated her top tips in ‘Healthy, kid-approved lunchbox snacks‘ and ‘Five top tips to navigate the school lunchbox‘.