When it comes to school lunch, does your child groan at the sight of the menu? Is packing a lunch for your child a better option? Mahaska Health Registered Dietitian Lea Rice urges parents to practice safe packing practices when it comes to their kiddos’ food!

Just how do you do that though? Isn’t throwing everything into plastic containers or baggies good enough? Well, not exactly. In fact, there are four main ways to keep food safe from foodborne illness, something none of us want! If you’re looking to stay safe, follow these four tips:

Clean: Use clean surfaces for preparing your meals. Did you make some tasty chicken for dinner? Ditch that cutting board and find a clean one to use for preparing your lunch. Clean surfaces well so your sandwich doesn’t absorb any unwanted “seasonings” sitting on the counter!

Separate: Need to cut up some fresh veggies? Use separate tools and cutting boards for your fresh produce and meats. No one wants raw meat touching their fresh fruit or veggies anyways!

Cook: Grab that meat thermometer and make sure your goods are cooked through.

Chill: Making your lunch ahead of time? Put it in the fridge overnight and keep the lid open so air can circulate. Once you’re ready for travel, throw in at least two cold sources, something like an ice pack and frozen water bottle or juice box will work just fine! Keep those perishables from perishing before you’re ready to enjoy them.

When it comes to packing the perfect lunch, don’t forget the bag! Ditch the paper sacks and invest in an insulated bag instead. Toss any leftover food and disposable packaging after you’re finished eating. For reusable containers, make sure you rinse and seal so germs can’t make a home inside your lunchbox. Most importantly, wash those hands good before you eat, you never know what may be lurking under those fingernails!