When I was a kid, one of the highlights of the school year was getting to go on a field trip adventure outside of the classroom. Back then, a packed lunch amounted to a crushed paper sack containing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chips and (if you were lucky) a can of soda. We have come a long way, but the field trip lunch is the one lunch out of the year that sometimes stumps me, but I’ve found a few ways to make it work.
Keep It Cold
Lunches we prepare for field trips have to withstand a bus trip and temperature shifts, especially in the warmer months. Consider freezing two water bottles and placing them in the lunch container to keep food cold. Add an additional unfrozen bottle for drinking. This will keep food cold, plus help keep your child hydrated during a day of activities.
Which Foods Should You Send?
Since temperatures vary so much, even with a homemade cold pack, try to avoid anything that might spoil and can withstand warmer temperatures. For sandwiches, consider a lunchmeat and cheese sandwich (without mayonnaise) or a peanut butter/sun butter sandwich with jelly or honey.
Tip: Easily prevent sandwiches from becoming smashed and inedible! Use a rolling pin to roll out the bread until it’s flat. Add lunchmeat, roll the sandwich, then slice it in half to create what our family calls, “sandwich sushi.” The same technique can be applied to nut/soy butter and jelly sandwiches by spreading both layers on one slice of bread.
Add convenience foods to your lunches too, like a healthy dose of fruits or vegetables. Consider items than can handle being jostled like carrots, broccoli, celery, apples, or oranges.
Round out the “un-fun” parts of the lunch with a treat like organic fruit snacks, trail mix (opt for no-chocolate versions if you’re monitoring sugar intake), or a granola bar.
Make It Special
Field trips are special for kids. Let them know you’re thinking of them, and tuck a small note in their lunch to let them know that you hope they have a fun day with their class. If your child is older, a good joke is always a hit! I promise that they will remember how special you made them feel with simple gestures like these.
Keep it Disposable
During my daughter’s first year of kindergarten, we were asked to send a disposable lunch for her first field trip. We didn’t have any paper bags on hand, so I sent her lunch in a plastic grocery bag, wondering if other parents were more prepared than me.
Fortunately, most parents did send their lunches in plastic grocery bags, labeled with their child’s name. If you are sending foods that you worry will be crushed, visit your local grocery store’s salad bar and ask if you can purchase one of the handy containers. They’ll offer a little more support than the bag, and will hopefully prevent food from getting smashed en route. Disposable lunches aren’t always ideal, but it definitely helps the teacher avoid having to keep track of everyone’s lunch bags and containers.