Written by: Emma Rohmann from Green at Home
How to Pack a Waste-Free Lunch
By now, hopefully you’re in the groove of packing lunches for the kiddos. Did you head into the first week of school with dread about what to pack, how to pack it, and whether they would actually eat it? It can be tempting to stick with pre-packaged, single-serving size items, thinking that it saves you time and thinking. But all this waste won’t get recycled, and doesn’t send a very positive message to the kids about the importance of reducing waste. To help you move away from the plastic sandwich bags and single-serve packaged items, here are a few ways to pack a waste-free lunch with ease.
- Don’t use Pinterest.
I might be biased because I don’t use Pinterest for anything, but specifically for packed lunches I think it’s enough to make anybody want to throw in the towel before even getting started. Unless you really get kicks from making your kids’ lunch a serious work of art, don’t search for visual inspiration. Save your energy and focus on packing healthy food instead.
- Use a Bento Box.
I used to use individual containers, but when I wanted to switch from plastic I invested in a couple metal bento boxes. One of the benefits is that you just have one dish to wash instead of 4 separate ones which saves time and/or dishwasher space. We use LunchBots, but I’ve also heard great things about PlanetBox, which has some fully sealed options.
- Have small leak-proof containers.
For kids who like yogurt, hummus, apple sauce, soups, etc., have some leak-proof containers on-hand. It really doesn’t take long to pour from a larger container, and you’re saving a tonne of waste. If you have those little Baby Bullet containers (and don’t mind using plastic), they work great for hummus and dips. You can also find small insulated containers for soups and stews.
- Pack cutlery and a cloth napkin.
Put cutlery and cloth right in their lunch bag so they don’t have to ask the lunch supervisor for disposable ones. I send my baby cutlery with my kindergartener – the handles are easy to put a name on, and it’s no be deal if they don’t come home. Get them their own napkins as well, either cute printed cloth, or even cloth baby wipes, and remind them to use them instead of paper towel. Just make sure to wash or rinse it at the end of the day!
- Pack leftovers.
Save time by reusing what you’re having for dinner. You can either pack straight leftovers, or cut up some extra fruit and veg as you’re prepping to go into lunch. You can also pre-cut many veggies and some fruits (like melon) at the start of each week. This will help you save time while packing a healthier lunch and avoiding those single-serve packages.
Packing lunches doesn’t have to be stressful. Be prepared with the right set up, and you’ll get into a groove in no time. Don’t make it more complicated than you want it to be so you don’t slide into old habits – I’ve been known to successfully pack a lunch in less than 5 minutes and if you have a dishwasher, the additional dishes aren’t even noticeable. Happy lunch packing!