Many people advocate packed lunches for work, and they have good reasons. They are cheaper; they minimise waste (as long as you use reusable food containers); and, with a little bit more effort, they can be healthier than those sold at the nearby deli. But because you prepare them at home, there is some concern over how to keep them fresh before lunch.
Here are some ways you can keep your food safe for eating. If you want to know more about how to safely prepare food for your kids and family, courses from food handling institutions like aia.edu.au have a wide array of training programs you could join.
It all starts with how the food is prepared. Minimise contact with unhygienic surfaces and always wash your hands with soap before you start cooking. Wash reusable containers properly before rinsing them with hot water. You could also use glass containers. They may be heavier and a touch more expensive, but they are easier to wash.
Remember to pack single servings; leftovers from work lunches are a no-no. Raw dishes, such as sashimi or steak tartare, are best left at home. They become hotbeds for bacteria growth at ambient temperature and are not worth the risk.
Keeping it Cold
Chill meat, vegetables, salads, tofu, dairy and carbohydrates (pasta, rice) the night before. Cooling them under 5° C deters bacterial growth. If possible, you may follow this: prepare at night, chill in the fridge and pack them in the morning.
Many lunch boxes offer insulation. They help keep food cold throughout the morning just before you can pop it in a microwave. Insulated lunch boxes are great especially if it gets hot at work and there are no fridges at work.
Keeping it Hot
If you want to keep your food hot, storing them at high temperatures in insulated containers is ideal. Heat them up to at least 73.9-degrees Celsius before pouring them into the containers. The heat will control bacterial growth and keep the food at serving temperature even after a few hours in storage. Rich soups and saucy dishes may be stored this way as well.
With packed lunches, you can keep both your wallet and tummy happy. Following proper safety protocol will also ensure a safe meal for you and your loved ones every day. In addition, having food on hand gives you time for a leisurely break.