Keep your summer camp lunch ideas fresh.
Most day camps require its participants to pack their own lunches. And complicating the task often is a requirement to make it a meal that doesn't have to be refrigerated. So that means PB&J and PB&J and by the start of the second week of camp, you've got a camper in a state of lunch-time mutiny.
So Columbus Parent enlisted the help of local chef and culinary instructor Laura Robertson-Boyd to come up with guidelines and a few recipes that will get families through the pack-a-lunch challenge.
Building Blocks for Tasty, Safe Food
Bad BacteriaBacteria grows most rapidly between the temperatures of 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. This is known as the "Temperature Danger Zone," and potentially hazardous foods (those high in protein and moisture content) should not be left out in the Temperature Danger Zone for more than 4 hours. Bacteria will also grow more rapidly the warmer the food is, so avoid packing hot foods in a sack lunch that will be sitting out for several hours. It is difficult to keep hot foods (i.e. soup, macaroni and cheese) hot enough so that they are safe to eat. It is better to pack a cold lunch as bacteria grows much slower at cold temperatures.
Did You Know?
Yogurt is safe for several hours at room temperature because of the helpful living bacteria cultures that exist in the yogurt.
Here's something else to think about when packing a sack lunch - Zero Waste.
Though pre-packaged foods are certainly more convenient, they are also much more expensive and generate much more trash than using reusable containers.To save money and be more eco-friendly, try to pack a "Zero Waste" lunch. Here are some tips from the Center for American Progress:
To pack a sack lunch of cold foods (i.e. deli sandwiches, pasta salads), use an insulated lunch bag and an ice pack. Foods should remain safe to eat for several hours when properly chilled.
SandwichesUse 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. Roll-ups or pinwheels (sliced from a roll-up) made with peanut butter, honey, & sunflower seeds Turkey & cheese roll-up with alfalfa sprouts 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, peanut butter, or meat-and-cheese filling
Did You Know?
The French leave their cheese out at room temperature. They believe cheese is a living thing - like a pet - and they ask: "You wouldn't put a cat in the refrigerator, would you?"
Our rule of thumb in America is that hard cheeses such as cheddar, asiago, parmesan, gruyere, and Swiss are safe to eat at room temperature.
RECIPE: Tuscan Tuna & White Bean Salad
Ingredients for the salad:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Ingredients for the dressing:
Directions:Toss the beans, tuna, tomatoes, onions, and basil together in a large mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour over salad and toss gently to coat. Serve over a bed of lettuce or with a crusty Italian bread on the side.
RECIPE: Ham, Cheddar & Corn Muffins
Yield: 1 dozen muffins
Directions:Preheat oven to 400F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper baking cups and spray lightly with cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients (cornmeal through salt) together in large mixing bowl and stir well. Add in milk, egg, and melted butter. Stir just until blended. Then stir in cheese, ham and corn. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling them 1/2 full. Bake 18-20 minutes until golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.