5 Steps to Packing a Safe (and Enjoyable) Camp Lunch

Follow these five easy steps to make sure your kid's camp lunch is safe to eat, no matter how hot it is outside.

Camp Lunchbox Graphic Illustration by T.M. Detwiler
Picture this: your kid's been running around outside all day and when it's finally time for lunch, he sits down to eat and everything in his lunch box, down to the juice box, is warm. Not ideal.

The threat of food-borne illnesses heats up along with temperatures in the summer months. You may know how to keep your food safe at barbecues and on road trips, but what about packing your kid's camp lunch? It takes a little extra preparation to pack a lunch that can withstand a few hours of high temps and direct sunlight. So we turned to Marianne Gravely, spokesperson for the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service in Washington, D.C., for the lowdown on keeping camp lunches fresh. 

The Night Before

1. Put your child's insulated lunch bag in the fridge, so it starts out cold.

2. Prepare any foods that need to be kept cold (i.e. your child's sandwich) and place them in the fridge as well.

3. Freeze your child’s juice pouch. (We suggest choosing one with 100% juice, like Tropicana Kids. The pouch is clear, so you can see the juice you're serving and there are no added sweeteners or artificial flavors. Once the pouch defrosts, you'll feel good about what your little one is drinking.)

That Morning

4. Place the frozen drink at the bottom of the lunch bag, and then place the prepared lunch items directly on top of it.

5. Add a second cold source, like an ice pack, on top of the perishable foods. Add room-temperature foods, like snacks, to the top.

By the time your child is ready to eat, his lunch will be cool (or at least room temperature) and healthy and refreshing to fill him with necessary nutrients to fuel through the rest of the day.