Many schools have started asking parents to pack a waste-free lunch. This means avoiding packaged products and Ziploc bags. We asked our Assistant Manager in Brooklyn, Elle, to give us some tips she has learned from packing healthy, waste-free lunches for her daughter Zoe Grace. Here is what she had to say:
It can be difficult for working parents to provide healthy food for lunch on the go. I’ve found that the best way to do that is through preparation. I can be a bit of a nut about eating healthy and organic (when possible). It is so important to me that my daughter is healthy, happy and thriving. That all starts with the food that she eats.
Prep with the Right Gear
When she was in preschool it was easy because they had a fridge and could do “heat ups” so leftovers were an easy option. But now that she will be starting kindergarten this coming year there is no refrigerator and no heat ups provided. My plan is to prep as many raw veggies on Sunday as possible. I plan on chopping them up and storing them in the wean green bowls.
We go to the farmers market every Saturday. This summer the peaches have been so tasty I’ve decided to freeze them. I store them in the beaba freezer tray so on an early fall morning I can pop them into some oatmeal or add them to lunch (they will be defrosted but still nice and cold).
I love the bento box trio for it’s separated compartments. It fits in her grey robot lunch box that has this great removable insert so it catches the crumbs and I can rinse it in the sink. Instead of using disposable forks and spoons I use the plant-based plastic 6 pack. There are enough so I don’t run the dishwasher every night. In addition, I love the nesting trio because the lids hold in liquid and are really easy for small hands to remove. The smallest of the nesting trio is perfect for a little bit of yogurt.
Along with the fruit, I use frozen corn and peas (kids love them). If I decide to send leftovers I’ll heat up leftovers and use an insulated food jar. I know this works because I use it for work and sometimes eat really late and it’s still hot! The food jars are also great for storing carrots and berries if only some of the lunch is cold.
The eco vessel smash box is perfect for apples and avocados because you can let the air out so they don’t turn brown. While the (washable) reusable food bags are easy for snacks like crackers and pretzels and dried fruit.
Fun Ways to Make a Lunch Without Leftovers (Hopefully)
I use apple slices instead of bread and put sun butter on them. They are delicious and it covers fruit and protein in one bite. I throw in some veggies and I’m done. When I used to send a small jar with hummus and some carrots there would always be a bit of hummus left. That’s so wasteful. Now I cut the crust off a piece of bread, flatten it with a rolling pin, spread hummus and grated carrots roll it up, and cut it up like sushi. Voila! Bite-sized deliciousness without the waste.
I also chop cucumbers very finely and put spreadable goat cheese in between them with a small slice of organic ham or turkey, to make a little, bread-less sandwich.
One question to leave you with that I haven’t been able to answer: Why don’t kids eat crust??