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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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.

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