With summer holidays fading to a distant memory, the reality of making 400+ school lunches throughout the new school year is quite overwhelming, but we are here to provide some inspiration.
We have two boys in our family and rarely will they eat the same lunch. That’s probably being generous, let’s say never! We keep to a basic structure of: main and 2-3 snacks, normally one sweet, one savoury and one piece of fruit. Our goal is to create a healthy, low-waste lunch that will keep their energy levels high to promote learning and having fun in the playground.
So how do we do it?
Plan your Low-Waste School Lunches
Firstly, there is some planning that needs to be done. Involving everyone in this process creates some interest. We ask our kids what they would like included in their lunch box. Sometimes we ask if they have seen anything at school that their classmates bring for lunch that they would like to try.
There is an abundance of ideas on the internet. Our go-to’s are Taste and the AIS Nutrition page. Both share simple, nutritious recipes. We are also on expert sports dietician Lisa Middleton’s mailing list. Lisa provides up to date information and resources on maintaining a healthy diet and her emails include delicious recipes.
Our young boys will happily eat a ham and cheese roll or croissant. We mix it up with the occasional sushi. Older kids may like to try Lisa’s Salmon & Ricotta Frittata or Pumpkin & Pinenut Spinach Salad.
For snacks, muffins are a good option. They provide great variety and you can pack them full of fruit and vegetables if you desire. Check out Lisa’s Banana, Strawberry and Yoghurt Muffin recipe.
We try to get our snacks from the bulk food store. We pop our own popcorn and use banana chips and soya crisps. Our school is nut free so we leave those for an after-school snack. Our boys absolutely love dry biscuits and rice crackers, so they often sneak in too.
Bananas and grapes are popular fruit options for school as they wont get all mushy. Sultanas and carrot sticks are great alternatives if the fresh fruit has run out or come winter time!
Once the lunches are planned and the shopping list is written it’s off to the shops. If you’re brave enough, go shopping together to purchase what you need. This might not be achievable every week but a good thing to do every so often. It’s a great way to discuss low-waste options and instil low-waste shopping habits like using a bread bag for the bakery, produce bags for fruit and veg, containers for the bulk food store and reusable bags to carry it all home in.
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School Lunch Prep
With the cupboards overflowing with healthy ingredients, you’re ready to create some yummy lunch snacks. Doing a big baking session on the weekend will get you off to a good start for the week. You can load up the freezer and relax knowing you have plenty of snacks on hand. Again, you can involve your kids in this process. Baking at home is a good way to reduce using individually packaged products which are often lesser-quality snacks.
Low-Waste School Lunch Box
Once all the prep is done, it’s time to pack the lunch. A stainless steel lunchbox is a must to keep the food fresh and in one piece. Silicone muffin moulds are great to bring some colour to the lunchbox. They can be used to separate snacks for fussy little ones. Alternatively, you can wrap snacks in beeswax wraps to keep them fresh.
The last component of a healthy school lunch is a stainless steel water bottle. Stainless steel bottles are the best for keeping water cold ALL day and at the same time keeping plastic bottles out of the ocean.
So there you have it. Creating healthy, low-waste lunches is not as daunting with a little planning and preparation. Make 2021 the year of the nude food lunch in your house!