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Should You Use Ice Packs in Lunch Boxes?


Yes, you do! We've all experienced what happens when you leave a sandwich out for too long. Dried, stale bread with the potential for bacteria to develop on it. Ice packs are designed to prevent this. Let's take a look at why we need ice packs in our lunch bags, as well as some tips for keeping meals cooler for longer.


Why Do You Need Ice Packs in Lunch Bags?

 Nice Packs Maxi ice packs


Whether you're a student, a sports enthusiast, or someone who loves the outdoors, packing lunches is something everyone does or has done at some point. But you know what's the weirdest part about all of this? Even though the modern era has introduced us to insulated lunch boxes, a lot of people still use the old-fashioned brown paper bag. But here's the problem: those paper bags won't keep your homemade lunch cold and fresh. Plus, if you live in a place that's really hot, leaving your food out can lead to spoilage and foodborne illnesses like diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and even a trip to the hospital.

So, how can ice packs help you out?

For starters, ice packs are sealed plastic pouches or containers filled with a gel, liquid, or other substance. To use them, all you have to do is pop them in the freezer for a couple of hours and they're good to go. Depending on the pack you decide to go with, most of them can remain cold for at least 3 hours. Once you place your lunch box along with these ice packs, you can be sure that whatever temperature you set it at, it's going to stay like that. This prevents the possibility of spoilage and keeps your lunch fresh and safe to eat.


Tips To Keep Your Food Cold for Longer



Here are some tips to help your food stay cold for longer:


1) Use an Insulated Lunch Bag

 A lady packing her lunch bag and including a Nice Pack

Credit: Best Products


Whether you call them cooler bags, thermal bags, or insulated bags, they're all the same. These bags typically have an interior lining made of insulating materials like foam or thermal insulation. This lining helps regulate the internal temperature and stops heat from getting in from the outside.

When shopping for an insulated cooler bag, consider the number of hours between packing your lunchboxes and when you need to eat lunch. The food in your cooler bag must be able to stay cold for this long. So, if you pack your lunchbox at 7 a.m. and you usually eat lunch at 1 p.m., your cooler bag must be able to keep food cold for at least 6 hours. Also, pay attention to where the insulation is located. A good cooler bag will have an outer layer, an inner layer, and an insulating layer in between. Lastly, look for lunch bags that come with compartments to place your ice packs to make packing convenient.


2) Choose the Right Type of Lunch Box Ice Packs

 Someone showing their well packed lunch bag with a nice pack in the lid


When choosing ice packs, check to see how long they can stay cold. In general, you want an ice pack that can maintain its temperature for at least 12 hours. Most product descriptions will mention this. Also, avoid the type of ice packs that melt when they cool down. Although this is fine if you're packing liquids, if you're packing something like a sandwich, you'll just end up with soggy crumbs and a mess. Lastly, go for reusable ice packs to save money. If you're looking for a thicker ice pack that can remain cold for hours at a time, Nice Packs is the perfect choice.


3) Freeze Your Food

 A lady keeping her lunch in the fridge till she is ready to add to her lunch pack

Credit: Sound Health and Lasting Wealth


Another option is to keep your lunch refrigerated. After you've filled your lunch box with food, simply place it in the refrigerator. You can keep the contents cool this way. When you're ready to head out, simply toss your lunch box in your insulated bag with an ice pack and your lunch will remain cool until lunchtime.

To keep food cold, invest in stainless-steel food containers, such as a reusable bento or any other freezer-safe container. When it comes to keeping our food safe and tasty, stainless steel works best.


4) Use Frozen Water Bottles

 Someone adding water to the freezer so that the water can freeze

Credit: iStock


Everyone carries a water bottle to work or to school. Why not put it to good use? Simply freeze a water bottle overnight and pack it in your lunch bag. It's a terrific way to keep the temperature down, and when it's time to drink it, it'll have thawed but still be nice and cold. Just make sure you choose safe, non-toxic reusable bottles.


5) Keep Your Lunch Bag Out of the Sun

 A very healthy lunch of grapes, carrots and a sandwich with lettuce, cheese and tomato on a desk waiting to be eaten

Credit: iStock


It's pointless following all the tips mentioned above and then keeping your lunch bag in the blazing hot sun. Not only will your frozen bottle and ice packs melt faster but all the trouble you've gone through to keep your food cold will end up being a waste. So, when deciding where to keep your lunch bag, keep it away from the windows, heaters, or in direct sunlight.


6) Plan How to Pack Your Food


visual of lunch bag with all food essentials
Credit: Envato Elements/ Prostock-studio


When packing your cooler bag, think about how you arrange the items inside. Place items that need to stay the coldest, like dairy products and meats, at the bottom of the bag, closest to the ice packs. This helps them stay cooler for longer since cold air sinks. Then, layer items on top according to how sensitive they are to temperature. For example, put fruits and vegetables on top since they can tolerate slightly higher temperatures.


9) Don't Overpack


hands putting lunch box and bottle in bag
Credit: Envato Elements/ halfpoint


Avoid filling your cooler bag to the brim. An overstuffed bag won't allow for proper air circulation, which can hinder the cooling process. If you have a lot of food to pack, consider getting a bigger bag or using another bag.


9) Avoid Opening the Cooler Bag Frequently


hands putting bottle in bag
Credit: Envato Elements/ Zinkevych_D


Each time you open your cooler bag, warm air enters, causing the temperature inside to rise. To minimize this effect, try to limit the number of times you open the bag unnecessarily. If possible, pack drinks and snacks separately in a smaller bag to reduce the need to open the main cooler bag frequently.




Can I use regular ice cubes instead of ice packs in my lunch bag?

Yes, you can, but it's not always the best option. Regular ice cubes can melt and create a mess, potentially soaking your food. Ice packs are designed to stay colder for longer periods without making a mess.


How many ice packs should I use in my lunch bag?

It depends on the size of your lunch bag and how long you need to keep your food cool. As a general rule, one or two ice packs should suffice for most lunch bags.


How can I clean my lunch bag and ice packs?

For most lunch bags, wiping them down with a damp cloth should suffice for regular cleaning. For tougher stains, you can use a mild soap solution. As for ice packs, follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning. In many cases, wiping them down with a cloth dampened with a mild detergent solution should do the trick. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasives.


Are all ice packs reusable?

No. Some are designed for single use and should be disposed of after each use. However, most freezer packs are reusable and can be refrozen after each use.




Ice packs vary depending on the lunch box you choose. So be cautious and don't be afraid to splurge. Besides, it's better to be safer than land in the hospital due to a food-borne illness. To shop for the best ice packs for lunch boxes to keep your lunch cool, check out Nice Pack's long-lasting ice packs. Shop with us today.


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