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School Lunches Not Making The Grade?

Is everyone bored with school lunches already? Lunches don’t have to be monotonous, and sandwiches can remain safe and retain their shape with the right container.

Consider making and freezing sandwiches ahead of time. Try varying the type of bread and fillings you use, but don’t go overboard with your sandwich- making assembly line. You will want to use up your frozen sandwiches within one to three months of making them.

Some foods like tomato slices, cucumber slices or lettuce on sandwiches, do not freeze well. Because of their high water content, they quickly become limp, waterlogged and develop an oxidized flavour during frozen storage.

Maybe egg salad sandwiches are popular. Unfortunately, egg salad does not freeze well because hard-cooked egg whites usually become tough or rubbery during frozen storage. Mayonnaise and sour cream can separate when frozen, but salad dressing such as Miracle Whip tend to stand up better to freezing.

Other sandwich fillings that do freeze well include canned fish (such as tuna or salmon), roasted turkey, chicken or roast beef. Hard and semi-hard cheese, such as Swiss and cheddar cheese, freeze fairly well, but they may become crumbly as a result of freezing. Consider grating it or using shredded cheese.

You may want to lightly butter the bread prior to adding the filling. The butter serves as a barrier between the filling and the bread and helps prevent sogginess.

When packing a lunch, use an insulated lunch bag or box. If refrigeration is not available, you can use a frozen gel pack or frozen juice box to keep the food chilled. If lunch is carried in a brown paper bag, food safety experts recommend tossing the bag after use. Bacteria can live and grow on food that spills on the lunch bag.

– Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, L. R. D., is a North Dakota State

University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist

and associate professor in the department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.

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Julie Garden-Robinson is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.

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