How Long Can Lunchables Sit Out? | The Real Truth

Are you a fan of Lunchables? Those pre-packaged, portable lunch kits that are a staple of childhood? If so, you might have wondered: how long can these things sit out before they become a health hazard? The answer might surprise you. In this blog post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of Lunchables, including their shelf life, safety, and more.

Shelf Life of Lunchables

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According to the official Lunchables website, their products should be refrigerated at all times until they are ready to eat. This means Lunchables safe to consume as long as they are kept at a cool temperature. However, the website also recommends that you consume your Lunchables within 4 hours of removing them from the fridge.

The USDA recommends that perishable foods like meat, cheese, and eggs should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours. This is because bacteria can grow rapidly at room temperature and cause foodborne illnesses.

However, Lunchables are a bit of a gray area. The meat and cheese used in Lunchables are typically highly processed and may contain preservatives that can prolong their shelf life. Additionally, the crackers used in Lunchables are often dry and have a long shelf life themselves. All of these factors can impact how long Lunchables can sit out without becoming a health risk.

Lunchable VarietyRoom Temperature Shelf LifeRefrigerator Shelf LifeFreezer Shelf Life
Ham & Cheese2-3 hours2-3 weeks1-2 months
Turkey & Cheese2-3 hours2-3 weeks1-2 months
Pepperoni & Cheese2-3 hours2-3 weeks1-2 months
Chicken Nuggets2-3 hours2-3 weeks1-2 months
Pizza2-3 hours2-3 weeks1-2 months

Note: These are just approximate shelf lives, and the actual shelf life may vary depending on factors such as storage conditions and the specific product batch. Always check the best-by date on the package and follow proper storage guidelines to ensure the safety and quality of the product.

Factors Affecting Lunchable Shelf Life

Of course, there are many factors that can impact the shelf life of a Lunchable. For one thing, the temperature at which it is stored can make a big difference. If your Lunchable is exposed to warm temperatures for an extended period of time, it’s more likely that bacteria will start to grow.

Lunchables should be kept at a consistent temperature of 40°F or below to prevent spoilage. If they are left out in a car or at room temperature, the meat and cheese can spoil quickly.

Additionally, the type of Lunchable can affect its shelf life. For example, a Lunchable with deli meat and cheese is more perishable than one with crackers and cheese. The more meat and dairy products a Lunchable contains, the higher the risk of bacterial growth.

Some other factors that can make your Lunchables spoil faster include:


High humidity can contribute to the growth of bacteria and mold on Lunchables, especially if they are not sealed properly.

Exposure to Air

Once a Lunchable package is opened, air can enter and promote the growth of bacteria, which can cause the food to spoil quickly.

Quality of Ingredients

The quality of the meat and cheese in Lunchables can vary, and if they are not fresh to begin with, they can spoil faster.

How to Tell if Your Lunchable Has Gone Bad

So, how can you tell if your Lunchable has gone bad? Here are the obvious signs:

Lunchable VarietySpoilage Signs
Ham & CheeseSlimy or discolored ham, moldy cheese, stale crackers
Turkey & CheeseSlimy or discolored turkey, moldy cheese, stale crackers
Pepperoni & CheeseSlimy or discolored pepperoni, moldy cheese, stale crackers
Chicken NuggetsSlimy or off-smelling chicken nuggets, stale or off-tasting crackers, discolored or off-tasting ketchup
PizzaMoldy or off-smelling pizza, moldy or off-tasting cheese, discolored or off-tasting sauce

Lunchables can go bad if not stored properly or left out for too long. Here, we will discuss how to tell if your Lunchable has gone bad.

Check the expiration date

The first thing you should do when you open a Lunchable is check the expiration date. If the Lunchable is past its expiration date, it’s likely that it has gone bad and should not be eaten.

Look for signs of spoilage

Even if the Lunchable is not past its expiration date, it may still be spoiled. Look for signs of spoilage, such as a sour smell or a slimy texture. If the Lunchable smells bad or looks slimy, it should not be eaten.

Check the meat

The meat in a Lunchable is the most likely component to go bad. Look for discoloration, a slimy texture, or a sour smell. If the meat looks or smells off, do not eat it.

Check the cheese

The cheese in a Lunchable can also go bad. Look for discoloration or a sour smell. If the cheese looks or smells off, do not eat it.

Check the crackers

While the crackers in a Lunchable are less likely to go bad than the meat or cheese, they can still spoil. Look for signs of mold or discoloration. If the crackers look moldy or discolored, do not eat them.

Consider the storage conditions

If you’ve had a Lunchable in your backpack or in a hot car for several hours, it’s possible that it has gone bad. Lunchables should be stored in a cool, dry place and should not be left out for extended periods of time.

Related Questions

Do Lunchables need to be kept refrigerated?

Yes, Lunchables need to be kept refrigerated until they are ready to be eaten. The meat and cheese in Lunchables can spoil if left at room temperature for too long. The packaging will often state that the Lunchables need to be refrigerated.

How long does it take for Lunchables to go bad?

The length of time it takes for Lunchables to go bad depends on several factors, such as the temperature they are stored at and the ingredients in the Lunchables. Generally, Lunchables should be eaten within a few days of purchase to ensure that they are still fresh.

Can you eat a month old Lunchable?

No, it is not safe to eat a month old Lunchable. Even if the Lunchable appears to be fine, the meat and cheese may have spoiled and can cause food poisoning.

Are Lunchables unhealthy for kids?

Lunchables are not considered a healthy food option for kids. They are high in sodium, preservatives, and often contain processed meats. While they can be a convenient snack or lunch option on occasion, they should not be relied upon as a regular part of a child’s diet.

Are Lunchables eaten cold?

Yes, Lunchables are typically eaten cold. They are meant to be a portable, ready-to-eat snack or meal option that can be eaten without needing to be heated up.

Is it OK to eat Lunchables cold?

Yes, it is safe to eat Lunchables cold as they are meant to be eaten without being heated up. However, it is important to ensure that the Lunchables have been stored properly and have not gone bad.

How can I keep my lunch box cold without a refrigerator?

There are several ways to keep a lunch box cold without a refrigerator, such as using an insulated lunch bag, adding ice packs or frozen water bottles, or wrapping the food in a cold towel.

What can I pack for lunch without refrigeration?

There are several options for packing a lunch without refrigeration, such as sandwiches, wraps, crackers and cheese, fruit, and trail mix. Foods that are less perishable and can be kept at room temperature for a few hours are best.

Can I eat Lunchables while pregnant?

It is generally safe to eat Lunchables while pregnant, as long as they have been stored properly and have not gone bad. However, pregnant women should be cautious about consuming processed meats due to the risk of listeria.

What are the healthiest Lunchables?

While Lunchables are not generally considered a healthy food option, there are some healthier options available. Look for Lunchables that contain whole grain crackers, lean meats, and fruits or vegetables.

Are Lunchables a snack or a meal?

Lunchables can be considered either a snack or a meal, depending on how they are consumed. They are typically marketed as a snack or lunch option, but they can also be used as a quick and convenient meal on the go.

What meat is in a Lunchable?

Lunchables can contain a variety of meats, such as ham, turkey, chicken, and pepperoni. The meat is usually processed and pre-cooked for convenience.

What do you pack with Lunchables?

Lunchables can be paired with a variety of foods, such as fruits and vegetables, crackers, nuts, and granola bars. The packaging of the Lunchables often includes a small dessert or snack, such as cookies or candy.

What are pizza Lunchables made of?

Pizza Lunchables typically contain crackers, pizza sauce, and toppings such as pepperoni, cheese, and sometimes vegetables like green peppers or olives.

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