I’d love to say that school mornings in our house are some zen experience where I curate beautiful wholefood, waste-free lunchboxes while casually sipping a herbal tea… Alas reality is some what different.
That said, I’ve found a few hacks that help when it comes to lower-waste lunchboxes. Hacks that still mean my kids will eat their lunch (mostly) and that don’t take me a heap of time.
Dinner made new: At dinner time, I always try to cook enough for lunch the next day. I fill up the lunchboxes before plating up the evening meal so that there’s not the temptation to eat it all at dinner time. I love that a ‘main meal’ in their lunchbox gives them something substantial to fill up on and keep them going for the day. Some of the favourite leftover lunches in our house are pizza, sausages, and lasagne. My kids are happy eating things cold, but you can always pop them in a thermos, or make them into a wrap to make them easier to eat.
Bulked up baking: I like having a stash of home baking on hand – but I don’t always have time to make it. When I do find a window of time to do some baking, I make as much as I possibly can and stock up the freezer with the excess. Tripling a recipe takes minimal incremental effort but you get 3 times the output!
Pre-cut chocolate and banana cake, bliss balls, and mini muffins are some of my go-to freezer-friendly options – and you can just grab the portion you need straight from the freezer and it will be defrosted in the lunchbox by lunchtime.
Bulked up buying: Buying snacks in bulk can be a great way to reduce your packaging waste. I sometimes take my own bags and buy things from the bulk bins, or instead of buying things like snack-sized bags of potato chips, I buy a lager bag and reuse containers to serve them instead.
Contain it: I’ve found that having segmented lunchboxes and a stash of containers saves time and additional packaging waste – I love being able to just throw things in without having to wrap them. You don’t have to go out and buy anything fancy, I often reuse plastic food containers destined for the recycling bin, pop things in a jar, or just creatively stack things next to each other in the lunchbox.
In on it: It can be awesome to get your kids involved in their lunchboxes – they could help with the baking or be able to choose things out of the freezer baking stash. I find a bit of ownership can go a long way when it comes to getting them to eat everything.
Re-use: In our house, if anything uneaten comes home in lunchboxes, it is plated up and re-presented for afternoon tea. If there are still half-eaten bits and pieces of produce, I will trim them up and pop them in the freezer so I can use them later in smoothies or soups.
Remember that it’s not an all-or-nothing game – I started by changing one snack at a time in our lunchboxes. I made sure any changes I was making didn’t take me a lot more time or effort, otherwise I knew they weren’t going to stick.
I also found it such an easy win to include my children in the conversation and to come up with solutions together – it was such a great way to get buy-in from them.
One small change.
Photography: Tori Veysey, Journeyman Creative