How to pack a litterless lunch

Spring time is all about starting fresh! And with all of the spring cleaning that goes on, you’ll probably realize how much extra garbage the winter months created. Let’s not carry any of that baggage into the spring! Making a few smalls changes in your life, and your kids lives, can go a long way in reducing your family’s waste. But before we tell you how, here’s a question: what weighs more than an average fourth grader? Their garbage! Did you know the average elementary school-aged kid throws out 67 lbs in waste a year? And that’s just from their lunch! No wonder boomerang and litterless lunch programs are becoming more common in schools across Canada!

For those of you who don’t already know, a boomerang lunch is where anything you send with your kid has to come back. And while boomerang lunch programs do cut down on what the school throws out, these policies put the responsibility of throwing out trash back on the parents. Also, who in their right mind wants to deal with a bunch of old food wrappers after school?

So how do you stop the boomerang from coming back? Pack a litterless lunch! It may sound daunting at first (wait, no plastic baggies!?), but with a few simple swaps, you can completely eliminate school lunch waste and never have to deal with gross old food wrappers again! Plus, making school lunches litterless is a great way to teach your kids about the environment this Earth Day!

Here’s how to get started:

Get the basics

There are tons of useful, reusable school lunch accessories out there (more on those in a moment), and you might not know it, but you probably already have some of the things you need. Reusing items you already have around the house, like cloth napkins and mason jars, will help you save on your litterless lunch investment. The essentials you’ll want to start with are

  • An insulated lunch bag
  • Ice packs
  • A stainless steel water bottle
  • Cloth napkins (perfect for wrapping sandwiches, instead of plastic wrap)
  • Small mason jars (for snacks and finger foods)

Plan what to pack

One of the big reasons we resort to heavily packaged “lunch-sized” food and snacks is because  we’re often in a hurry at the grocery store, and have no idea what we’re putting in our kids’ lunches tomorrow (cue: pre-packaged impulse purchases). Taking a little time on the weekend to plan what your kids are going to eat for school lunches will save you a bunch of time, stress and grey hairs during the week.

Try printing out a school lunch planner (check Pinterest for tons of great options), and plan out all the lunches for the whole week. This way, you’ll know exactly what to buy and what to pack every day. No more lunch stress! Want to take it a step further? Get the kiddos involved in the planning and let them pick some of their favourite lunch-time foods and snacks. When kids are involved in the meal planning, they’re more likely to eat everything that gets packed, and you won’t have to deal with any soggy day-old sandwiches.

Take litterless lunches up a level

While the basics are really all you need, there are some great litterless lunch accessories out there if you’re ready to up your lunch-packing game:

  • Bento boxes: Kids love having little compartments to keep each food separate, and those bento box compartments mean you can get lunch and snacks into a single reusable container! If you’re feeling crafty, you can try your hand at bento box art; your kid will be the envy of the lunchroom!
  • Reusable food wraps: While cloth napkins are a great eco-friendly food wrap option, they do need to be laundered. Reusable food wraps usually just require a quick wipe down after each use, making cleanup a snap!
  • Reusable straws: We’re not quite sure why, but when you’re a kid, everything tastes better if you drink it through a straw. (Not to mention blowing juice bubbles becomes an option!) Encourage your kids to drink more and stay hydrated with reusable straws.

Now that you’ve the tips and tools you’ll need to make litterless school lunches, test it all out some kid-approved, utensil-free sandwiches like our Spiced Chicken Wrap with Carrot Fries, Roasted Veggie & Chicken Wrap or any of our other awesome lunch recipes!

We hope you’ll make litterless lunches one of your 2018 Earth Day resolutions! If you do, be sure to share your eco-friendly creations with us on Instagram and tag @maplelodgefarms!

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