In my school district, we are back to school this week! That means back to the grind of making lunches and afternoon snacks.
Okay, when I make myself lunch, I am not 100% zero waste. But definitely less waste! How it works in our house, is Monday is usually awesome. Weekends we go to farmer’s markets and do a bunch of cooking. Cooking can be fun. For some, it can be a hassle – but now it is a family fun time for us. My mom is vegan, my dad is not. Some cooking I do with my mom, some I do with my dad, and some I do on my own. Then usually, that weekend cooking and prepping can last us most of the week. Some stuff can get frozen. So, Mondays are usually completely zero waste. And as the week goes on, and we are all tired and running behind on homework/ sleep, by Friday, we end up taking a few short cuts. But that’s okay!
My mom has had packable lunch stuff since I was in preschool. A lot of that was reusable plastic containers, which isn’t great, but I’ve been using it since preschool! And most of it is still going strong. Now as time goes on, when my mom buys new stuff she is buying metal containers. So, if we have a lot of stuff, it is because my mom has been buying it forever!
There are some cute reusable containers out there that probably seem pricy to a lot of people. I know we are lucky to be able to invest in these items. It is a bit pricy to us, too, but my mom figures we are saving money by bringing our own lunches, and these items will last us a long time and will get well-used.
Besides the cute “eco-boutiques”, my mom has found super affordable stuff at Target, Walmart, The Container Store, and Home Goods. And of course, Amazon – but then watch out for the packaging! My mom prefers supporting the local smaller shops that carry the companies that she knows have a great reputation, but sometimes, out of convenience, she shops at the larger chains. Besides looking in the typical school lunch area, my mom actually loves looking in the camping sections for super convenient food to go containers. (Walmart on a budget, but favorite is REI). Oh, and if you find one of those cute Japanese shops in your local mall (here we have Tokyo and Daiso), they have really affordable cute bento boxes!
Anyway, it is not that hard to at least make a dent and not bring a bunch of packaged stuff – or buy it from vending machines once you get to school.
What you see below:
- Home brewed fruit iced tea.
- Fresh strawberries with blueberry bread
- Gummy worms bought in bulk from Sprouts.
- Cheese crackers bought from local vendor at a farmer’s market. (Come in paper bag).
- Rice balls! Rice balls are so awesome and you can do so much stuff with them. Put chicken or veggies or tofu inside them. Here I played with nori (the ONE thing here that came in plastic wrapping!) using a cut-out template we found at a local asian market.
Besides hard containers, it is also nice to find “soft” options: like washable snack bags, beeswax cloth, and my mom loves Planetwise sandwich wraps with velcro. (Not affiliated, just sharing what we use!). We have bought beeswax cloth, but also made our own! (I will save that for a later blog post).