Easy school lunch packaging ideas that don’t cost the earth.
For time-poor, harried parents who have 20-gazillion jobs that need to be done before the mad dash to school, ‘earth-friendly’ lunch options are pretty much off the radar. The convenience of packed muesli bars, cheese sticks, small bags of biscuits, popcorn or chips, and a quick vegemite sanga wrapped in cling film is hard to beat. But earth-friendly doesn’t have to mean ‘difficult’ or ‘time consuming’, it just means making a couple of slight changes to your weekly shop.
By not sending plastics and excess packaging to school with your child every day, you’ll be helping to cut back on landfill. When it comes to the environment, every little contribution really does help. Here are a few practical ideas:
1. Change your wrap: swap cling film or snap-lock bags for waxed (or greaseproof) paper. This is the easiest change you can make towards an earth-friendly lunchbox. Wax paper is really cheap, easy to use (even before the first coffee of the day) and can be recycled. Use it to wrap sandwiches, biscuits and fruit.
2. Make it reusable: a slightly more hardcore option is the reusable sandwich bag. The idea is that the bag comes home each day, is washed and re-used again the next. This eliminates waste completely, but you do have the added hassle of having to wash and dry the bag.
3. DIY snack packs: buy some small plastic containers and fill them each day with snacks: crackers, cheese, grapes, sultanas, strawberries, homemade popcorn, carrot and celery sticks, or yoghurt. If you find mornings a real struggle, you can pack your snack boxes for the week ahead and keep them in the fridge.
4. Cook-in wrapper: if your kids aren’t so big on sandwiches, cook savoury muffins or mini-frittatas in paper muffin cases. Drop one into the lunchbox, no further wrapping required.
5. Bento box: some mums swear by bento-style lunchboxes, with little compartments for everything. These will save you from packing small containers, but won’t give you the flexibility to prepare snacks ahead of time. You will also be restricted to a certain size for sandwiches.
6. Don’t forget the water: forget packaged drinks and send the kids to school with a BPA-free plastic or stainless-steel drink bottle.
Once you’re in the habit of packing lunch items yourself rather than reaching for the muesli bars and bags of chips, you’ll never go back. As well as reducing waste, earth-friendly lunches are much cheaper than buying pre-packaged foods. It’s win-win: you’ll have a tidier school, a healthier child, a wealthier wallet and a happier planet.
Gabrielle Chariton is a freelance writer and blogger. Find out more at notreallyanactivist.com.