It’s back to school again for my kids and I thought I’d share a little about how we send them off with package-free lunches. Packaged items are all about convenience, and I completely understand their appeal. On a busy morning when families are trying to get out the door on time for work and school (and maybe squeeze in a dog walk or some exercise), there isn’t a lot of spare time. So having food that you can grab and throw in a lunch bag is really helpful. And it’s possible to do it without any waste!
Our kids (aged 6 and 9) make their own lunches with a little help from us. We encourage them to pack a fruit, vegetable, protein, and carbohydrate in each lunch, and try to make this process easy for them.
Here’s our top TEN zero waste lunches for kids – easy swaps for your favorite packaged options!
Packaged baby carrots? Swap them for:
- Easy to cut carrot rounds. Our kids can safely cut carrot rounds, even with a butter knife. We don’t peel the carrots usually, just rinse and slice.
- Cucumber slices. Our kids can peel these if they want, or they slice them unpeeled.
- Chopped sweet pepper – kids can slice them chunky and they are still delicious.
- Cherry tomatoes are great too – no chopping necessary.
Granola bars? Try switching them out for:
- Homemade granola bars. I tried a recipe from Pinterest and the verdict was:
- No time for homemade granola bars? Try a cute container full of loose granola from bulk bins.
- Try energy chunks or nibs from bulk bins. We love cacao energy nibs – available at New Leaf and Staff of Life in Santa Cruz. DELICIOUS!
Pre-packaged fruit snacks? Try swapping for:
- Dried fruit! My kids love dried mangoes, dried apricots, and raisins. Plus, there’s generally no added sugar.
- A small piece of whole fruit or half a fruit. Apples, bananas, pears, berries, oranges, tangerines – these are easy to grab. If the piece of fruit is really large, we might help them make a quick slice down the middle so they are less likely to waste the other half. We also love all kinds of berries in our family!
Packaged nuts or chips?
- Check your local bulk bins for healthy, savory alternatives! We can get pretzels, corn chips, sesame sticks, and more in bulk at New Leaf and Staff of Life. Nuts are usually a staple as well.
There you have it – easy zero waste options for kids lunches.
I’d love to hear from other busy families – what’s in your kid’s lunches?
Thanks for reading!
ps – stay tuned for an upcoming post all about lunch containers