What is an environmentally friendly parent to do when it comes to packing school lunches?
The good news is that being environmentally friendly and saving often do go hand in hand.
- Wrap all sandwiches, breads, carrot sticks, grapes in wax paper -- just like the "old days". Waxed paper is compostable. My 9 year old is well trained and brings all compostable things home in his lunch box. What a guy! Plastic baggies are more expensive, are toxic to recycle (although always better to recycle) and let's face it -- go right into the trash at the school.
How to wrap a sandwich in waxed paper
- Bake "quick breads" as a great part of a pack lunch. Quick breads are great ways to get healthy vitamins into your children. From carrot, to zucchini, to pumpkin bread -- it's good stuff. Wrap in waxed paper.
- If you pack a dessert for your children, bake cookies and freeze them. Take them out of the freezer one at a time -- they will be thawed out by lunch time.
- Use older cloth napkins (maybe with a stain or tear or two) rather than paper napkins. I won't be devastated if it doesn't come home -- but once your children know the routine, they put it back in their lunch box just like any other reusable food container. (No need to continually buy paper napkins.)
- Go to a thrift store and purchase mis-matched forks and spoons for them to take in their lunches when needed. Again, if you lose one, you won't be devastated. So far, all of mine have come home. (A much cheaper option than continually buying plastic ware.)
- Pack whole fruits like apples, peaches, pears. Sometimes I wrap the fruit in an old cloth napkin if the fruit is fragile. Train your children to bring home the apple / pear cores so that they can go into the compost. If necessary write "our family composts" on the inside of the lunch box. At first, my (now) 9 year old got pressure to throw stuff away, but he stuck up for himself and explained that we compost!
- I pack hot soups a lot for my children. They bring it in low wide mouthed thermos. So healthy for them and what's better than soup on a fall / winter day?
- I was sending my children (who can handle glass carefully) to school with my glass food storage containers. I finally got two complaints in one week from the schools so I ordered stainless food containers from life without plastic. They are adorable and my children seemed to work them just fine. (4 and 9 year old) If you don't know already, I'm anti-plastic. :)