Monday, August 24, 2015

How to Create a Waste-Free Lunch

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There are two approaches to creating a waste free lunch.  First, you have the actual lunch itself and the amount of waste produced at the location in which you eat that lunch.  If you don’t produce any waste, I would consider this waste free, so hooray for you! And two (and here’s the tricky part), there is the process of making the lunch and the waste produced from this process. It’s really difficult to go waste free when making the lunch (think about all the packaging that comes from the basics, such as lunch meat, bread, cheese, chips, etc).  My goal in the lunch making process has always been “low-waste” as I feel it’s too much pressure to be 100% waste free in this area (see end of post for tips and suggestions on this topic). That being said, and moving froward, here’s what’s important to remember: START SOMEWHERE.  So let’s start with the lunch itself and ways to eliminate the need for a garbage can.

This post contains all the paraphernalia you can imagine to create a waste-free lunch. So enjoy and I hope it inspires you to add a little green to your lunch box and lunch making process.  Here is a link to my complete list of eco-friendly products on Amazon.  

A quick note about all the affiliate links in this post.  Only the Amazon links are affilated with The Tasty Alternative, all other links are not sponsored…I just like these products. I highly encourage you to check locally for all the items you want to buy.  I offer the links primarily for you to have information about the products.  Buying on Amazing is great if you cannot find anything you need  locally.  Purchasing online is convenient as hell, but it’s wasteful.  The boxes, the packaging, and of course, the fossil fuel.  So my philosophy is to find it local, and if I cannot, I resort to online purchases.  Okay, there’s my PSA on that issue. 

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Let’s start with the lunch bag.  Forget about those flimsy paper bags my friends.  There are so many functional and affordable lunch boxes out there.  Here are a few I like.FotorCreated

1.  Trash Talking Recycled Lunch Cooler 

2.  Insulated Fabric Lunch bag from Etsy

3.  Ali Express Neoprene Lunch Bags 

4.  Wildkins found at Target 

5. Fluf Cotton Lunch Bags 

6. Eco Organic Cotton Lunch Bags 

7. Tote Bag Lunch Organizer 

8.  Non Toxic Zoo Lunchies 

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There have been some great innovations when it comes to the lunch box.  I prefer using stainless steel for my family.  I use number 5, 6, and 8 everyday for my kiddos.  I like number 1 & 7 for my lunches and snacks.

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1.  Three Tier Stainless Steel Container 

2.  Three Tier Containers (with color options) 

3.  Bentgo Kids Plastic Container.  See HERE for Stainless Steel Bento Container 

4. Lunch Jar Thermal Vacuum Food Container 

5.  Three-in-one Stainless Steel Food Container Set 

6.  Rectangle Container with Divider 

7. Large Food Container 

8. Lunch Bots (with one, two, or three sections).

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Small and medium size containers are great for for dried fruit, chips, applesauce, yogurt, pretzels, nuts, seeds, etc.  One green tip in creating a waste free lunch is buying large jars of food that you would usually put in your kiddos lunch, like applesauce or yogurt.  For example, purchasing a large jar of apple sauce and filling a small reusable container is more eco-friendly than buying the little plastic pouches filled with fruit sauces, like this one. 

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1.  Tiny Leak Proof Condiment and Dip Containers 

2.  Mini Food Storage Containers 

3.  Set of Three Food Storage Containers 

4.  Set of Two Leak Proof Containers 

5.  Food Canister with Lid

6. Reusable Plastic Containers 

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There are many other eco-friendly items you can find to take place of their wasteful counterparts. Here are a few examples.  Fabric napkins (opposed to paper), bamboo or stainless steel utensils (opposed to plastic), fabric sandwich wraps (opposed to Ziplock sandwich bags), reusable water bottles (opposed to disposable water bottles or juice boxes). Little efforts here and there make a big difference.    FotorCreated

1.  Cute fabric napkins with cute quotes.  Making napkins from old towels/material is easy too.

2.  Stainless Steel Utensils 

3.  Lunchkins reusable sandwich bags.  I also adore Snack Taxi (great company and products). 

4. ToGo Bamboo Kids Utensils.  I love these for adults and carry a set in my car.  

5.  Stainless Steel Water Bottles.  My kiddos use these large water bottles.    

6.  Stainless Steel Straws.  I also love glass straws and use them for smoothies.  Don’t forget to get yourself a glass straw cleaner

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I’ve provided you with several tips and suggestions to get you going on your waste-free lunch adventures!  Woot-woot.  But keep in mind that creating a waste-free lunch is more than just purchasing a stainless steel container.  It’s a state of mind – it’s a way of life.  It’s about getting creative and looking at the wasteful products that are commonly purchased and finding ways to make eco-friendly alternatives.  Yes, it takes time. Yes, it takes planning.  But if it’s important to you, it’s a direction worth moving.  Let me give you an example.  One way to decrease waste in the lunch-making process is to make homemade versions of popular snack or lunch items, such as granola bars, energy bars, fruit bars, mini muffins, puddings, salted nuts/seeds, crackers, etc.  If you are able to purchase nuts, seeds, oats, and legumes in bulk with reusable shopping bags, such as Care Bags, then you can eliminate a great deal of waste in nearly every step in the process.  Another example is to not purchase packaged lunch meat.  An alternative is to purchase meat from the meat counter, for example chicken, and use a glass container rather than the paper and plastic wrapping.  In this example, you can have lunch meat without any waste at all. And ultimately, you will save money and get more out of your food.  So with the chicken, I bake it and slice it for sandwiches, grind it up for chicken salad, cube it in pasta, or make chicken tenders.  I have several posts and suggestions on this very topic (see here) and I hope it inspires you to take little steps to a larger green-living goal.  

Speaking of food, my friend Emily from Recipes to Nourish compiled an AMAZING list of 100+ Real Food Lunch Box Ideas…so now you have all the materials AND a ton of recipes.  See you next week.  xo, –Amber 

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 How to repel bugs from garden

This post was shared on the following link parties:  Mix it up Monday, Busy Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Keep it Simple, Munching Mondays,  Amaze Me MondayBarbara’s Beat, Show and Tell Tuesday Link PartyAllergy Free Wednesdays, Waste Not Want Not Wednesdays, Full Plate Thursday

 

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Labels: green living, kitchen tips, lunch.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Road Trips with Kids…Accessories, Entertainment, & Snacks!

vactions pics 2I grew up traveling and taking road trips up and down California and longer ventures to Colorado, Texas, and Oklahoma. Because of these experiences, I am old-school when it comes to traveling with my kids.  As a child, I didn’t have the luxury of a portable DVD player or an ipad or handheld video game… and yes there was a lot of car squabbles and frustrations, but there was also a lot of imagination, games, laughter, singing, stories, and memories.  Don’t get me wrong though, we live in a digital world, of course we have a tablet for the last stretch of the trip…or when traffic becomes horrendous.  Continue reading

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Labels: kids, Travel.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

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My local Natural Food Coop has been making a fiesta quinoa salad for years (10+).  I ate it like crazy when it first showed up in the deli and would also pick some up for potlucks or for dinner.  A few years ago I started making it myself.  I remember it was a blistering hot summer, and for weeks it was over 100 degrees and I refused to turn on my oven for most of it.  Like most summers, we live off of cool meals such as avocado mint soup, salads galore, raw treats and homemade ice cream. This quinoa salad is super refreshing and it’s a favorite among my family and friends. Maybe this dish will make an appearance at your next party…or for dinner one hot summer night.  xo, –Amber  Continue reading

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Labels: allergy-friendly, grain free, salads, summer cuisine, vegan, vegetarian.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Shea & Mango Butter Lotion (with video)

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Hello friends.  I’m super excited to share an amazing new lotion ingredient with you: mango butter!  I am in love.  Mango butter is a soft, non-greasy butter extracted from the mango kernel (not the meat) and it has a soft earthy scent.  Here are just some of mango butter’s benefits:  (1) it is rich in powerful antioxidants, vitamins (A, C, & E) and minerals that help reduce degeneration of skins cells (aka, fights wrinkles), improves elasticity of the skin, and offers protection again the sun’s UV radiation, (2) powerful anti-inflammatory agent, good for bug bites, rashes, wounds, scars, and poison ivy/oak, (3) beneficial for the scalp and hair, and (4) excellent for eczema, dry skin, and other skin conditions.   Continue reading

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Labels: Holistic healing, homemade beauty products, homemade remedies, how to.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Almond Flour Blueberry Mini Muffins

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Last year I finally bought myself a mini muffin pan…and I love it! I try to keep snack time creative and healthy for the kiddos and mini muffins were a perfect new addition.  I love using almond flour for the muffins, as they are packed with protein.  Any flavor combo is possible and I adore that they are easy to make, easy to pack, and easy to eat.  Today I am sharing blueberry, as blueberries are in season and such a delightful little berry.  I also use cherry, strawberry, or raspberry or any combo of each.  The kids also love banana chocolate chip, which I will share soon.  Have you ever made mini muffins?  I am addicted! Continue reading

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Labels: grain free, kids, muffins, Paleo, snacks, summer cuisine, summer treats.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Winter Garden & How to Build a Basic Planter Box

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I was so excited about our winter garden this year and wanted to share it with you! A while ago we made some new planter boxes (a super basic and easy design – see video below).  I love doing a winter garden every year, as I have great success with peas, carrots, and lettuce. But this year I finally grew beets!  And broccoli! And cabbage!  and *sort of* onions/leeks.  I garden in a fairly small space but still we have such fun and the kids LOVE it.  I live in Northern California where we have mild winters and blazing hot summers.  In fact, summer gardens around here go until early/mid November, then I switch over to the winter crops.  But really, it’s never too late to start a garden…with a little research, you can find any crop to grow anytime of the year. Winter gardens are just so fun!  Mother nature provides the rain and those delicious root veggies grow and grow in the frosty cold weather – lettuce thrives and the peas go crazy.  And I love seeing all the green leaves popping up during those cold winter months.  I’ve included some pictures for you of my gorgeous beets (first time growing!) and a few other winter crops.  I’ve also included my video on how to build the simple planter boxes we use.  Enjoy and let me know what you like to plant during the winter…or anytime.  xo, Amber.  

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Labels: gardening, how to.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Orange Kissed Apple Pie

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When I was a little girl I loved helping my Gramie make apple pie.  She did not play around when it came to the apples. She piled them apples a mile high in a huge mound and placed the crust on top.  When the pie cooked the apples settled and there was at least a 4 inch space from apples to the top of the crust.  I will always remember how cool it looked.  When she broke into the pie, the crust fell nicely onto the apples.  What I loved most about her apple pie, however, was the filling.  She made it thick and gooey. The liquid ran all over the place.  The apples were tart yet sharp with sweet cinnamon flavor.  I loved extra scoops of the apple pie liquid on my ice cream which was the ultimate flavor combo.  We remember those we love through food.  When I taste my apple pie it takes me right back to her kitchen – standing there next to her oven, smelling the cinnamon and drooling for that flaky crust.  I’m happy to say I’ve perfected my version of her apple pie with a dairy, gluten, and cane sugar free spin. It’s comforting to smell, taste, and physically enjoy a memory.  Food has a way of bringing us closer to those we have lost, and really, then, suddenly they don’t feel so far away. Continue reading

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Labels: allergy-friendly, dessert, fall cuisine, holidays, pie, summer treats.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Allergy-Free Wednesdays Week 120: June 4, 3014

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Hello and welcome to Allergy-Free Wednesdays (AFW).

AFW is a weekly blog hop where folks can share their allergy-free cuisine, gain knowledge about allergy-related topics/issues, and connect with others living or caring for someone with food allergies.

Please read HERE for AFW guidelines before linking up. Thank you!

Continue reading

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Labels: Allergy-Free Wednesdays.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Allergy-Free Wednesdays Week 118: May 21, 2014

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Hello and welcome to Allergy-Free Wednesdays (AFW).

AFW is a weekly blog hop where folks can share their allergy-free cuisine, gain knowledge about allergy-related topics/issues, and connect with others living or caring for someone with food allergies.

Please read HERE for AFW guidelines before linking up. Thank you!

Continue reading

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Labels: Allergy-Free Wednesdays.

Friday, May 16, 2014

5 -Ingredient Chocolate Free & Sugar Free Frosting

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My son turned 5 years old yesterday!  My kids are starting to look VERY BIG to me these days. I’m loving the independence each year brings, but I would love to hold them each again as a baby (until they start crying and pooping – the fantasy ends there).  The teenage years will be here before we know it so I am ever reminding myself to treasure small moments and not let the silly stuff feel so big.     Continue reading

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Labels: allergy-friendly, cake, carob, dessert, frosting, Paleo.