How to pack a healthy, inexpensive waste-free lunch

Posted on Oct. 15, 2015 by in smartmoves

Has your family moved to a new neighbourhood and school? A new routine can be both exciting and exhausting. If your new school has a litterless lunch policy, we’ve got tips to help you pack a quick lunch that’s as healthy for your kids as it is for the environment.

What is a waste-free lunch?

An eco-friendly or litterless lunch means all your food and drink are in reusable, compostable, or recyclable containers. Your lunch box should have absolutely no garbage: no wrappers, no single-use disposable containers, no baggies, no cans, and no plastic wrap. With just a little advance planning your eco-friendly lunch can save you money, and keep you healthy.

Here are some excellent reusable ideas to get you started:

  • lunch container: cloth bag, lunchbox
  • food wrapping: cloth napkin, or compostable wax paper
  • silverware: stainless-steel or bamboo knives forks and spoons
  • drink containers: glass, stainless steel, thermos, and BPA free plastic

Choose these items to recycle or compost:

  • aluminum cans
  • glass bottles
  • paper bags
  • food scraps (for example: banana and orange peels, or apple cores)

Tips to create litterless lunches

Looking for reusable lunch packaging? Here are the key items to get you started:

  • Use an insulated lunch bag that keeps your food hot or cold. Try one that’s also dishwasher safe – it will keep lunch prep quick and easy!
  • A cold pack or thermos can help keep everything at the right temperature.
  • Containers: glass, stainless steel, and BPA-free Tupperware are options. Try to get items that are lightweight, and seal tightly to prevent spills and messy clean up.
  • Reusable sandwich wrappers: you can find cloth and Velcro wrappers, and even beeswax canvas wrappers to keep your sandwich fresh. Just wash and re-use the next day.
  • Cutlery: bamboo cutlery is lightweight and easy to use, or stainless steel utensils too.

Now that you have your re-usable lunchboxes, you’ll need some ideas for what to put inside. An added benefit of the litterless lunch is that you and the kids end up eating less processed food.

Make the most of your eco-friendly lunches and keep them economical:

  • Buy your food in bulk or prepare large dishes to separate into individual portions.
  • Cut up fruit in bite-sized pieces to make it easier to eat.
  • Add a frozen bagel in a small container and jam or cream cheese in a separate small one. Or pack pita and hummus in separate containers.
  • Snack alternatives– make homemade versions of your favorites and freeze them: muffins, cookies, nut mixes, and even homemade granola bars with dried fruit and nuts.
  • Pack leftovers from dinner the night before- lunch prep goes quickly that way!

Adjusting to a new neighbourhood and school can be stressful. What new routines were most difficult for your children? Share your tips and ideas with us below: