Pizza Lunchables: Refrigerate or Not? We Have the Answer!

  • By: Mike
  • Date: December 29, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Lunchables are the ultimate portable food on the go and they have seriously evolved over the last decade or so to include so many variations it’s enough to make your head spin.

Pizza Lunchables aren’t the newest but they are popular. Since pizza is known for staying power out of the fridge, how long do Pizza Lunchables last?

3-4 Hours is the standard. Pizza is pretty resilient when it comes to attracting bacteria, however, according to Kraft Heinz, Lunchable meals can sit at room temperature between 3 and 4 hours before they start to become questionable. 

You’ll get more of the same from Armour, the company behind competing Lunchables. None of these brands get specific about the individual Lunchables.

Instead, they issue a blanket statement covering all Lunchables. It’s easy to expect that they use the timeframe based on the Lunchable that goes bad quickest. 

USDA and FDA

Despite the timetables set by Kraft Heinz and Armour, the FDA and the USDA (Food and Drug Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture respectively) have their inputs as well. 

According to both the FDA and USDA, perishable foods shouldn’t sit out for any longer than two hours. You can take that how you will but Pizza Lunchables definitely fall within the terms that the FDA and USDA use. 

Pizza Lunchables typically come in two variations—Pizza Lunchables with Pepperoni and Pizza Lunchables with cheese only.

Both the pepperoni and the cheese are unbelievably processed, which means they will be pretty resilient to bacteria and degradation. 

That doesn’t mean they are immune to bacteria, however, and the FDA and USDA guidelines are worth following unless you enjoy a night on and kneeling in front of the porcelain throne. Worse yet, a night with your kids doing just that. 

Can You Freeze Lunchables to Make Them Last Longer?

Both Kraft Heinz and Armour make it very clear that you should only keep your Lunchables refrigerated, not frozen.

That’s because certain foods and ingredients don’t take well to freezing, especially with expanding and contracting factors to consider. 

There are certain items that are often found in Lunchables, such as drink pouches, that have a habit of exploding in the freezer much as you would expect from a can of Coke, Pepsi, or any carbonated beverage. 

The freezing temperatures may create enough internal air pressure to breach the seal on the Lunchables.

You may not notice the breach when you take them out and won’t realize (until the stomach cramping and nausea start) that the Lunchable has been exposed to the outside air while thawing. 

It’s a much better idea to bring freeze pouches along and keep them packed in with the Lunchables when you are transporting them, putting them in your kid’s lunch boxes, or setting them out for a picnic by the lake. 

Purchase a Lunchbox Cooler

If you really want to make Pizza Lunchables last, whether they’re for your children or for yourself, you can purchase a good lunchbox cooler.

These typically come with at least a small degree of insulation and will keep Pizza Lunchables for longer than they will last at ambient temperatures. 

It really helps to toss an ice pack in there with them. The internal temperature of the lunchbox will drop to refrigerator levels so long as the ice pack remains frozen, preserving your Pizza Lunchable longer. 

A good lunchbox will have an excellent seal. It will also be manufactured with solid materials that are durable and long-lasting. The effects of a lunchbox cooler wear off pretty fast when the material is compromised. 

Highly Processed Doesn’t Equal Longevity

As long as they remain sealed, Lunchables will last a surprising amount of time. According to the CEO of Phillip Morris, the original parent company of Lunchables, “If you take Lunchables apart, the most healthy item in it is the napkin.”  

The nutrition facts on the reverse label leave a bit to be desired and they include, 16g of total fat, 35mg of cholesterol, 680mg of sodium, and 28g of carbohydrates. While nutrition labels aren’t required to list their preserving processes, the preservatives are on the list as well. 

  • Thiamin mononitrate
  • Sorbic acid
  • Calcium propionate
  • Xantham gum
  • Mono and diglycerides
  • Salt

They don’t sound very appetizing but these are the preservatives responsible for your Oscar Meyer Pizza Lunchable being able to sit out for three to four hours prior to consumption. Most of the people in the industry will say that preservatives, in small amounts, are not bad for you. 

Maybe they are and maybe they’re not—that’s for you to decide. However, there are a number of them in Pizza Lunchables (all Lunchables for that matter).

That’s also why the sodium content is so high. A Pizza Lunchable comes with 680mg of sodium, which is a lot for such a small meal. 

The reason is that salt is such a great natural preservative so companies don’t hesitate to use the stuff in great quantities. 

What Lunchable Products Last Longer?

While the pizza in the Pizza Lunchable should be consumed fairly quickly, there are other things that are often packed into Lunchables that have more longevity. Cheese and meat are not things you want to sit out in the open for very long. 

However, cookies and crackers are another matter. Crackers and cookies have a much longer shelf life than meats and cheeses.

only thing you have to worry about with crackers and cookies is they will eventually get stale and will lack the texture you expect from them. 

Dipping sauces, especially those with a lot of sugar and sodium, lasts a surprisingly long time as well. Of course, if you’re going to gobble down the pizza, you may as well polish off the desserts that come with it as well. 

All Things Considered

Pizza Lunchables will supposedly last around 3 to 4 hours, though the FDA and the USDA recommend a shorter timeline of just two hours. If there is one rule of thumb you should always practice with food items, its to not leave any of it out for any measure of time and eat them as soon as possible. 

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