Paper Bag Prince and Princesses, packing a non refrigerated lunch

November 05, 2012

I started this post pre-Sandy as field trips that require paper bag lunch are now cropping up. As I prepared for Sandy and the possibility of losing electricity I was surprised at how little knowledge I had on what is safe to feed the kids when refrigeration is not an option. This means no cold packs just an old fashion paper bag lunch with everything having to be disposable. I went through quite a few articles and most entailed foods most parents are advised not to pack at schools especially when the kids are young. I finally found a resource that did their research and enlisted helpful advice. See tips below:

Safe Food via Columbus Parent

  • soybean nut spread (most schools d not allow peanut butter)
  • Jams and jellies
  • Condiments such as ketchup, mustard, relishes and pickled foods, honey
  • Dry grains, such as bread, crackers, pretzels, cereals
  • Dried meats, such as pepperoni, salami, and jerky
  • Fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables, such as apples, bananas, oranges, berries, carrots, celery, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower
  • Canned foods (when unopened), from fruits and vegetables to tuna and chicken
  • Dried fruits
  • Sandwich Substitutes

    • Hard-boiled egg
    • Canned or ready-to-use pouch of tuna
    • Make-your-own “lunchable”: whole grain crackers, dried or cured lunch meat, and cheese slices
    • Frozen, ready-made meatballs or vegetarian meatless “meatballs” (Trader Joe’s makes good ones)
    • Pasta salad with oil-based vinaigrette dressing
    • “Protein” salad, such as Black Bean Salad served with tortilla chips or on a bed of lettuce, or a concoction like Robertson-Boyd’s Tuscan Tuna & White Bean Salad (see recipe left)
    • English muffin “pizza” or leftover cold pizza
    • Hummus and pita chips and/or raw vegetables for dipping
    • Trail mix: There are plenty of ready-made trail mixes available (Trader Joe’s has a nice selection). But it’s easy (and cheaper) to make your own with any of the following: sesame sticks, pretzels (you could also add yogurt-covered or chocolate-covered pretzels for a treat), dry whole grain cereals (such as Cheerios, Quaker Oat Squares, Life cereal, Chex cereals), dried fruits (blueberries, raisins, “Craisins” or cranberries, apricots, cherries), 
    • Ham, Cheddar & Corn Muffins (see recipe below)


    • Use a variety of grains for the bread, keeping in mind that whole grains are healthier. Replace white sandwich bread with whole wheat bread or try using other types of bread, such as: whole wheat tortillas, spinach wraps, pita bread, sandwich buns, crackers, bagels, and “FlatOut” brand wraps. 
    • Turkey or Ham Roll-ups or pinwheels (sliced from a roll-up) 
    • Hummus & veggie wrap (try red pepper strips, carrot sticks, or cucumber sticks)
    • Cream cheese & jam on whole wheat - choose a jam made with real fruit, avoiding high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener
    • Bagel with cream cheese

    Photo: Donna Ladd Motherburg. Modified (by Motherburg) Tips via Columbus Parent , I took out nut and some items I felt most preschools  ask not to be packed in lunches.