Yup, it’s that time of year. But The Pickled Beet is here to help. 

If you have kids, it’s that time of year for you: adjusting to new schedules, changing bedtimes, and another year of adventure. It’s the end of summer—that carefree, improvisational romp through life (at least for the kiddos) and the return to all things scholastic: homework, tests, deadlines, projects, meetings and functions. Well, The Pickled Beet can at least help you in one related area …meals! We can prepare lunches, dinners, and snacks. But, if you DIY, here’s some handy tips to keep your kids food safe.

Packing lunches and snacks

In the realm of packing snacks and lunches for your little ones, what typically starts out highly well-intentioned at the beginning of the year often devolves into the category of just doing what’s easy. We’ve all been there, sending our children to school with fresh vegetables and other healthy items. But after almost countless days, the task—which may be beset with endless requests for Twinkie-esque treats—can become a tiring chore. 

But while you search Pinterest for creative kids’ lunches, keep in mind what’s most important: keeping everyone healthy. So, here are The Pickled Beet’s top food safety tips:

Food Safety Tips

  1. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Harmful bacteria love the “Danger Zone” of temperatures between 40° and 140° F. So, perishable food transported without an ice source won’t stay safe long. And here’s a trick for helping hot foods stay hot longer: Fill the insulated container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty it, and then put in the chili, soup, or whatever.  
  2. Wash your hands thoroughly during food prep, and instruct your kids to do so right before eating. Make sure the water’s warm, use enough soap to make it lather, and then hum the theme from “Jeopardy” to make sure you scrub for at least 20 seconds. 
  3. Sending along food for your littlest ones? Remember that the immune system isn’t fully developed in children under five, so be extra vigilant regarding hand washing and cross-contamination during food prep. 
  4. “Mommy, this yogurt is spicy!”—Trust your nose and eyes, and teach your kids to do the same. If something smells funny or isn’t the right color, take a pass.

Keeping Guard Against Gluten

Unfortunately, if your child has a gluten allergy or celiac disease, you’re only halfway to food safety after following the tips above. 

We’ve talked about gluten before; but, in addition to avoiding gluten in the lunches and snacks you provide, keep in mind these tips:

  • Meet with your child’s teachers and explain the limits of his/her allergy.
  • Make a plan with the teachers and your child for steps to be taken in the event of exposure to gluten.
  • Ask your child’s teacher if you could store a few gluten-free brownies or cupcakes in a school freezer for those unexpected times another parent sends in treats so your child isn’t left out. 
  • Watch out for classroom projects involving flour or Play-Doh. If the school can provide a heads up, you might consider providing a gluten-free substitute for the entire class. 

One final tip: Why not simply make your life easier with TPB service? Sure, we can provide lunches for the family, but maybe not having to worry about making delicious and healthy dinners might be even more tempting. And we specialize in food sensitivities and allergies, making you all set to kick off a great school year. 

The Pickled Beet works with individuals, couples, and families to create meals that are flavorful, healthy, and best fuel the body no matter what nutritional limitations might be part of the equation. Contact us for a free consultation.

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