nonperishable lunch ideas

Lunches That Can Take the Heat

August 12, 2010 at 11:25 pm , by

Today’s hot summer topic: Healthy, nonperishable bag lunches for day camp and picnics.

The last time I wrote about my son’s midday meal, it was about making his school lunches environmentally friendly, a requirement spelled out in the parents’ handbook. We’re talking cloth-napkin-level green, my friends; check out my post. I attempted to rise to the challenge.

Well, new school, new rules. Scott’s summer camp requested that lunches be fully disposable, as in no lunchboxes, no ice packs, no reusable containers, nada that can’t be tossed afterwards. This is so that one adult counselor can more easily carry 20 kids’ lunches out to the park for picnics. Also, per the usual allergy policy, no peanuts, no tree nuts, no seeds, not even a speck of any of that.

I panicked. Never mind tossing environmental concerns into the nearest landfill. What was I actually going to feed my son that didn’t require a cold pack to safely sit 4 hours in 85-degree weather? The specter of an entire summer of soynut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and warm shelf-stable milk loomed. Blegh.

Next stage was denial. Surely the kids could carry their own lunchboxes? Nope, the camp director said: They have to hold each other’s hands to cross the street, 4 or 5 kids to each adult. Argh.

So I took to the Internet. First, the bad news: Hardline health advocates like the FDA say that, with no cold pack, the only safe sandwich option is, yep, peanut butter and jelly (that’s soynut butter for you allergy-policy-camp parents) or hard cheese on dry bread.  Maybe some butter to moisten, but that seems to be a matter for debate.

But FDA guidelines aside, I discovered some surprising food-safety facts and good bag-lunch tips. Check out my discoveries and some recipes after the jump. Read more