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Keep Lunch Safe Without a Refrigerator

I'm trying to save money by bringing lunch from home more often, but we do not have a large refrigerator at work. I have to wait in a long line to use the microwave oven to reheat foods. Do you have any ideas?
Keep Lunch Safe Without a Refrigerator

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Keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold are keys to food safety. Here are some tips:

  • Invest in an insulated lunch bad and some freezer gel packs. You can also use frozen juice boxes to keep food cold. Keep gel pack or juice boxes in the freezer. Just before leaving home, place a frozen gel pack in your lunch bag.
  • Try freezing sandwiches. Many sandwiches freeze well and will thaw by lunchtime if placed in a lunch bad early in the morning. Save time by preparing and freezing some extra sandwiches ahead of time. Don't overdo the butter or mayo because the bread may become soggy during thawing. Sandwiches containing fruit or vegetables generally don't freeze well; pack ingredients such as lettuce and tomato separately. 
  • Keep foods cool by storing lunches out of the sun in the coolest place possible.
  • To transport hot foods such as soup or chili, rinse a thermos with boiling water just before filling it with boiling-hot foods such as soup. It will remain warm and safe for a few hours. To save time, heat the water in a microwave oven.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Featured in Food Wise September 2015 newsletter (PDF)

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