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Back to School: How to Pack a More Sustainable Lunch
Food

Back to School: How to Pack a More Sustainable Lunch

It’s that time again! As much as we all don’t want to say sayonara to summer the school season is upon us. Back to school time brings a myriad of emotions – excitement, anxiety, relief (helloooo, parents) and for the childless worker bees among us – a bit of nostalgia.

Beyond the new clothes, fresh notebooks and binders – parents and students have to think about what to pack for lunch each school day. Of course, most schools offer cafeteria options, but let’s face it they can be pretty nasty and more expensive than bagged lunches.

Here’s some ideas to help make those packed lunches a little greener:

  • First things first – ditch the brown bag and invest in a reusable lunch bag or go old -school with a lunch box. (I used to go bananas over my strawberry short cake lunch box which at some point got traded for a New Kids version.)
  • Use reusable containers – preferably glass. If you’re packing for your child and the school doesn’t allow glass, plastic is an option – albeit less desirable considering the dangers associated with heating plastics. Just make sure to wash and reuse properly, and don’t heat em up!
  •  If you already have a kitchen stocked with ziploc baggies be sure to reuse them; This is very doable for most foods and snacks that aren’t super messy – like sandwiches, grapes, crackers and cookies. Parents, ask your kids to get in the habit of bringing the baggies home with them. Explain to kids how they’re helping cut down on waste.
  • Again, less waste is crucial. That being said, forgo the juice boxes (they typically contain a crazy amount of sugar anyway!) Go for a reusable water bottle or thermos. These are easy to find at many grocers like Whole Foods or online.
  • As for the eats? Take advantage of seasonal produce from the farmers market and CSAs. Here’s some simple lunch ideas that are both tasty and fairly healthy: Peanut butter and fresh jam english muffin sandwiches, fresh fruit salads, brown rice cakes with honey and nut butter, salads with seasonal veggies, black bean quinoa salad, sandwiches with organic deli meat, veggie spring wrap rolls, vegetable ratatouille, or leftover veggie risotto.

These tips can be easily applied to office lunches as well!

Photo credit: FarmProgress

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Beth is a Health and Wellness expert who believes sustainability goes hand-in-hand with self care. She’s the girl whipping up kombucha cocktails at parties, and extolling the benefits of canning vegetables to anyone who will listen. View all posts by Beth Funari

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