Lunch has the possibility to be one of the most wasteful meals of the day. Think about all the excess packaging in snack packs, squeeze pouches, juice boxes, and all the rest that comes to mind in a conventional lunch box. With the return to classrooms and many of us gearing up to go back to the office, let’s look at what’s needed to reduce lunch waste.
Going fully zero-waste can be a little bit of investment upfront, but over time this will wind up saving stress, money and most importantly, the planet! Remember to start with what you've got, and replace less durable or disposable items as you're able and as needed!
What Is A Zero-Waste Lunch?
A zero-waste lunch is an individual lunch that does not create any additional waste. The idea is that at the end of your lunch nothing will need to go into the garbage or recycling bin at all! Many schools have a requirement that children must bring home any garbage that comes with them in their lunch bags. This is a great lesson we can impart on our children. We need to pack out what we pack in; may as well just not pack any garbage to begin with!
Lunch Box Essentials
The concept of a bento box comes to us from Japan, where this type of eating has been popular since the 13th century. In fact, the word bento comes from a slang word that roughly translates to convenient. It’s no surprise that these Bento Boxes from LunchBots are some of our most popular items.
With 5 separate compartments, (there is also a 3 compartment option) this bento box gives you the flexibility to include a variety of foods in different portion sizes. Perfect for picky eaters!
Made from food grade stainless steel, this lunchbox is easy to clean, doesn’t contain any linings or toxins, and will last you and your family for years to come. The colourful cover on the lid helps to provide extra grip and to distinguish between different family members' bento box.
The Cinco or Trio Bento Box is a great centrepiece for lunchtime, but it is unfortunately not leak proof. Since the Cinco isn’t air-tight you will need to store condiments or wet fruit/veggies in a separate container. This also makes for an easier clean up process! These containers from Onyx are dishwasher safe, made of the same high-grade stainless steel as the Cinco BentoBox and perfect for storing dressings, condiments, dips or anything else you want to include with lunch.
For all those meals that need to stay cool or warm, we love this 12-oz. insulated food container from U-Konserve. Double-walled and vacuum insulated, this container is cool to the touch when filled with hot foods, and moisture-free with cold foods. Plus, it’s dishwasher safe! For those with a bigger appetite, we love this Life Without Waste 16oz/500mL thermal food container.
Perfect for easy feeding on-the-go, the Squeasy Snacker is a versatile, reusable pouch for all your yogurts, smoothies, or purées. It’s easy to clean, easy to fill and easy to use. Thanks to it’s patent-pending No-Spill insert technology, it’s also a must have for every lunchbox. Available in a 3.5oz or 6oz, and many different colours, there's a Squeasy for everyone!
So what do you put it all in? A lunch box of course! Preferably an insulated one, that is easy to clean, PVC and BPA free, and stylish to boot.
Our favourites are from SoYoung and Dabbawalla.
The So Young Linen bags are available in two styles, a child-size Lunch Box and the larger Cooler Bags for yourself or older children. Both of which feature a variety of beautiful designs screen printed on linen or a lovely textured washable paper. Use the extra back pocket for storing cutlery or secret notes!
Dabbawalla lunch bags are bright, bold and can hold a whole lot of delicious food! They are machine washable and in our experience take many years before showing any wear. These bags have been a customer favourite for years!
One last tip for you! If your little one is beginning school this year, be sure to get your lunch gear early and have lots of picnics. This will allow your child to get used to how their food will be packed when they're at school as well as provide good practice on how to get their containers open. Bon appétit!