Pack a No-Waste Lunch Box
The idea of lunch brought to and from school in a paper or plastic bag seems so '80s, but the use of an actual lunch box or reusable sack (although they've been around for years, too) is back in style, and choices in material, colors, and sizes make your eco-friendly options all the easier.
Save a few trees by using cloth napkins and do your part by lessening landfill waste with reusable utensils. Both can be ported back home the same way they found their way to school within a lunch box or reusable sack.
Steer clear of prepackaged foods, juice boxes, and pouches, which create even more unnecessary hardship on our precious land.
And finally, pack your food and drink in reusable containers. Just think of all the money you'd save per child per school year if you packed just two snacks and a drink in reusable containers.
Lunch Box Alternatives
So, you've gone the distance and prepared your own food. Now it's time to consider your lunch box of choice to put it in.
Laptop Lunch Boxes were created by two eco-conscious moms about seven years ago when the savvy pair realized that the best way to help parents pack wholesome, low-waste lunches was to "provide them with a lunch system that was not only convenient and economical, but also appealing to kids." Thus, the Laptop Lunch Box was born. Made of lead-free plastic, its unique design, reminiscent of a bento box, features single-serve individual containers, reusable utensils, a water or juice bottle and a handy carrying case.
If lunch sacks made from organic cotton or recycled plastic soda bottles are more your children's bag, reusablebags.org offers a cool selection, too some even come with nontoxic reusable freezer packs.
Include Fun, Organic Snacks That Rival the Vending Machine
- FruitaBü Fruit Leathers: A convenient, organic and fun way to enjoy fruit when you can't find the real deal out of season.
- Peeled Snacks: A great find for the "grab-and-go" set, Peeled Snacks offers dried fruits and nuts made with no added sugars or oils.
- Sweet Earth Fair Trade Certified Chocolates: Organic and vegan chocolate peanut butter cups? We venture no kids will complain about getting peanut butter in their chocolate or vice versa with these hard-to-resist candies made with social consciousness in mind.
- Annie's Bunny Grahams: These sweet treats give mainstream graham crackers a run for their money. Made with organic wheat flour and no hydrogenated oils, they're also a great choice for those with milk allergies as they're dairy-free.
End the Sandwich Doldrums
Kids like to play with their food and eat with their hands (some of us adults still relish those activities too). Get them involved in making the foods that they'll be taking for their lunches.
Burritos, quesadillas, soft tacos and wraps are all great sandwich alternatives and travel well in a lunch box. Spend some time with them in the garden choosing vegetables, take them shopping and have them pick out different ingredients like vegetables, fruit, healthy snacks and whole grain pastas for the recipes you make together.
Want to take a more proactive approach to ensure that school cafeteria food meets your green standards? Check out the Farm to School Program, which partners schools and local farmers. This program includes farm visits, farmers' visits to classrooms and students participating in a wide variety of agricultural experiential education programs. The USDA National Farm to School Program is another alternative that works with schools to not only connect them with small local farms to increase the amount of locally grown food served in schools, but also provides health and nutrition education opportunities for teachers, parents and students by means of farm visits, classroom education and school garden opportunities. And one last suggestion: The O'Mama Report offers Eleven Tips for Change that helps you map out a plan for getting organic foods into your school district.