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School lunch boxes: the most common mistakes when assembling them and their solutions

Putting together healthy lunch boxes can be a difficult task, but with organization and scheduling it can be possible for children to bring nutritious food and also enjoy it. For a healthy lunch box to be successful, the school child must eat it with pleasure. Here are some mistakes that are made at the time of assembly.

Hygiene errors and their solution

Although this seems to be basic when it comes to putting together lunch boxes, sometimes time plays against us and we do not give it due importance. Food provides us with nutrients, however, it can sometimes become a pathway for disease-causing pathogens. It is important that we pay close attention to hand washing, food handling, that these are well preserved and that the containers are adequate.

Hand washing is essential to avoid gastrointestinal diseases. Before taking any food, one must wash their hands, thoroughly under the nails, between the fingers, the entire hand up to the wrist, if possible up to the elbow. Just by doing this, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) we reduce the chances of getting a cold or respiratory illness by 21% and the chances of having diarrheal diseases are reduced by 31%.

Food washing is also important, but it is often done poorly. All foods must be washed separately. Never in the same bowl. In the case of fruits and vegetables, they should be washed with plenty of water and ideally with a dilution of food disinfectant. The surface where food is prepared should be just as clean. Eggs that come stained with feces should not be used, it is likely that the hen has been sick. Different knives or boards should be used depending on the type of food.

Hand washing prevents diseases.

Storage errors and their solution

When we assemble the lunch boxes we must consider taking care of the temperature of the product and where we are sending the food. There are foods that may have a higher risk of contamination or proliferation of microorganisms. For example, meat. If, being raw, they are kept for hours at room temperature or submerged in water to thaw them, we are increasing the risk of microbial growth.

Cooked foods can be kept at room temperature for three to four hours. So it is important to calculate when the boy or girl will eat his lunch box and, because of it, avoid buying food prepared in warehouses or kiosks that have been exposed to the sun all morning. There are gel ice packs that could help keep food cold and consequently prolong its duration.

If you don't have much time, nuts and fruits will always be your best allies.  Nuts provide protein and healthy fats, while fruits provide vitamins.

With packaging you can also eat mistakes. It is important that the ones we use are suitable for food. Also, let’s try to avoid single-use packaging. In the case of plastic tapers, the ideal is to choose those with the PP or plastic number 5 label. This means that they are made of polypropylene, which is safe and toxic-free, and that it is suitable for microwaves. In addition, it is recyclable.

GlassDoes not change the flavors of food
Long duration
microwave safe
can break
Plasticdrop resistant
It’s not heavy
Use the ones that are BPA free or are PP
Can change the smells and tastes of food
Lasts less
Some may release monomers into food
Steellast much longer
It is the most hygienic
Does not break
Does not change the flavors of food
not suitable for microwave
cost much more

Lack of time and disorganization

As we have already seen in previous notes on school lunch boxes, it is important to organize ourselves before the school week begins to know what to send the boy or girl in the lunch box. That will reduce the stress of day to day. In addition, this way we guarantee not to overspend and that the child knows what he will eat, avoiding giving him new foods or foods that he has never eaten before.

Let’s not invent lunch boxes minutes before going to school. It is not ideal because we may buy ultra-processed foods to compensate and these do not add any nutrients to your diet. These products may be very rich, but they are poor in nutrients.

Hummus with toast or bread and raw vegetables on sticks to add texture to the preparation (Photo: Ale Crovetto)

It is key to include the opinion of the student. The one who will eat what is sent in the lunch box is him, therefore, he must feel that he likes what he will eat, his opinion is very important. One piece of advice is to make the lunch box list together, listening to his opinions and reaching an agreement. Also, if you send food that he knows and usually eats at home on a regular basis, he will eat it with more pleasure.

By organizing the lunch box ahead of time, you will also keep the menu varied. We know that if the same thing is repeated every day or is very similar, we could take away interest in the lunch box. In addition, the more varied the diet, the more nutrients we provide.

Involving children when assembling lunch boxes will make them enjoy it more.

Other errors:

  • Send complicated preparations to eat. Let’s try to send food that is easy to handle. Especially since we know that after eating his lunch box he will go to the playground.
  • Move breakfast through the lunch box. We have already said it on other occasions, the lunch box should not replace any main meal. It is one more of the five meals a day. Leaving home without breakfast could have a negative impact on a physical and mental level, but let’s consider that not everyone is hungry when they wake up. We can make small preparations but that are rich in nutrients.
  • Send packaged fruit juices, sodas, and foods high in sugar and saturated fat. Ideally, they should be foods high in nutrients and that comply with the formula of: formative foods (proteins), regulators (fruits and vegetables) and energy (carbohydrates and healthy fats).

Source: Elcomercio

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