One of the most frustrating school year responsibilities for a lot of parents is packing lunches. What to pack, how much, how to know your kid is actually eating what goes into that brown paper bag or Minions lunchbox -- these are all questions that plague parents.
Add to that the concern that the kids' food actually stays safe to eat until lunchtime, and packing bag lunches can seem especially daunting.
Dr. Steve Ingham of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), says that "children can be especially vulnerable to food-borne illness." That's why making sure perishable foods stay at the proper temperature is so important. The DATCP's safe lunch packing tips can help.
1. The best way to carry perishable foods to school is in an insulated lunch bag or box. If your child goes the paper bag route, pack only non-perishable foods like juice boxes, fresh fruit, chips, crackers and baked items such as cookies.
2. If you do use that insulated bag, start the cooling process the night before. Put the bag in the refrigerator overnight with the lid open to cool both the inside and outside of the bag.
3. When packing your child's lunch, double up on the cold sources. Put a frozen juice box on the bottom of the bag, followed by the perishable food items, then place an ice pack on top.
4. If you're packing hot foods, make sure to place them in insulated containers, and make sure your child knows not to open them until lunchtime.
Visit foodsafety.gov for more information on keeping your children's food safe.