What Do You Pack in Your Child's Lunch for a Zoo Visit?

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The staff at your local zoo is paid to feed the animals, but typically not to feed your children. Before you send your kids off for a day of animal watching, make sure they have plenty to munch on at lunchtime. Keep in mind that a zoo lunch needs to stay fresh without refrigeration and should comply with any rules and regulations of the particular zoo your child is visiting.

Simply Sandwiches

The sandwich is one of the staple elements of the American lunch. In addition to being easy to make, a sandwich is easy to store: just place it in a plastic sandwich bag and -- for added protection from the outdoor elements -- wrap the sandwich bag in aluminum foil. This double-layered system should keep your child's sandwich fresh, even after a few hours of prowling around the zoo. Another benefit of packing a sandwich for your child's zoo visit is that your child will not require any eating utensils. After consuming the sandwich, he can simply throw the wrappers in the trash. Some simple sandwich combinations to think about include peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese, and turkey and cheese. Make your child's sandwich with whole-grain bread instead of white bread for added nutrition.

On the Side

In addition to the main course, provide your child with a snack. Choose a securely wrapped frozen treat, which will stay cool -- while slowly thawing -- during the course of the morning. For example, freeze a yogurt tube or individual serving of applesauce the night before the visit, then pack it in the morning. Or choose simple snacks that can withstand the sun, such as raisins, or celery sticks and carrot sticks wrapped in aluminum foil. If you want to stick to the zoo theme, pack animal crackers in your child's lunch or other treats shaped like animal characters.

To Drink

Some zoos forbid children from drinking juice box drinks or bottled liquids. This is because straws and bottle caps, which can easily fit through fences and railings, can be hazardous for the zoo animals. To prevent zoo rules and regulations from making your kids go thirsty, store fluids, such as water or 100-percent fruit juices, in reusable containers. For best results, use containers that have sealed lids that won't leak in a child's backpack or lunch bag.


If you know that some of the kids your child is going to the zoo with have allergies, avoid packing peanut-butter sandwiches, peanuts and other foods that could potentially cause allergic reactions. In addition, pack hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes along with lunch so your child can wash before he eats.