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Plastic Free July - Lunch Box Ideas for Kids

"It can sometimes be easier spending hours doing meal plan 'research' but the biggest
tip of all is to just get in the kitchen and get it done!"

Plastic Free July is upon us and for those who have made the challenge this month to ditch single-use plastic, ditch ALL plastic, or for those who are just curious... Welcome!

Today we are sharing some waste free lunchbox ideas for kids. We will be talking about the lunch boxes themselves, helpful products and hacks as well as some yummy food ideas! We love to share information that inspires you to become more sustainable, allowing you to gain independence, save money and save the planet.

Healthy kids and a healthy planet here we come!

 - What lunch box should you use? -

Forget about the food, are you stuck wondering what lunch box, bag or container to use? What colour, design, shape, size and... sigh... yep. It can feel a little bit overwhelming at times. 

Our first tip is to use boxes, bags, containers you already have. A shiny new, cartoon themed lunchbox is only going to bring joy for a day or two. Contrary to popular opinion, your children don't need a new lunchbox every season to remain stylish. Although this may involve a supermarket tantrum or two, in the long run, not updating lunchboxes frequently will save you money, save plastic from going into landfill and save you having one of 'those drawers'... you know, those messy, can't find the lid drawers.

If you don't have any suitable lunch boxes and want some ideas about what to get, it is important to think about what types of food you want to be putting in the lunch boxes to make sure you have the correct space and think about temperature. If you want to send leftover spaghetti to school you might think about a thermos or a large divided lunchbox. If you want to have lots of cut up veggies and fruit you might consider buying smalls tubs or a lunchbox with little compartments. The options are endless.

First, plan lunch ideas you want to make and then buy the lunchbox that best suits the food and your lifestyle.

- Lunch Box Options -

 Simple Lunchbox

Cost effective

Widely available

Available in different materials and shapes

Requires seperate containers to portion different food 

 

Stackable Lunchboxes

Available in different materials and sizes

Customisable size makes it diverse in use

Usually more expensive than other designs

Great for separating larger meals from snacks

  

Lunch Bags

Cost effective

Widely available

Available in different shapes

Convenient design to hold a variety of food

Requires seperate containers to portion different food


Bento/Compartment Lunchbox

Easy to portion food types

Great for snacks and dividing food

Available in different shapes and materials

Doesn't require additional containers or tubs

 
Glass Containers

 

Great for storing larger meals 

Might transfer heat or get damaged

No chemical by-product when heated

Usually more expensive than other designs

Only suitable for older children (teenagers +)


Small Individual Containers


Great for dips and yoghurt

Great for bulk meal prepping
 
Great for separating smaller items

Widely available and cost effective

Sometimes poor quality and easily breakable

 

Thermos

Cost effective

Great for keeping food warm

Great for larger meals as well as liquids

Available in different shapes (tall or wider based) 

- Sustainable Lunchboxes -

  • It is important to consider the material of the lunchbox. Plastic might snap, fabric might tear and isn't as easy to clean, glass may break, etc.

    If you are wanting to take a more sustainable approach to purchasing a lunchbox, stainless steel may be a good option for you. It is durable, easily washable and can be recycled. It can be customised with the addition of magnets to make it more attractive if you are worried it is too bland.
  • Don't forget about getting a reusable drink bottle. Bottles come in a variety of shapes and types as well as materials. It is important to choose a bottle that best fits your child's age and mouth. It is also important to be aware of what toxins or chemicals the bottle may contain. When in doubt, opt for a better quality bottle to avoid water contamination. ALSO! Don't forget about cleaning! No one wants a tricky bottle to try and clean all of the time.

  • If you child is taking meals to school make sure you have the appropriate reusable cutlery and a cloth napkin for any spills.

  • Although we love them, kids are notorious for leaving untouched food on their plates or in their lunch boxes. Think about ways you can use this leftover food for other meals. Can the leftover brekky porridge go into a small container with berries for a lunch snack? Can the carrot sticks they left be used the next day as well? Can any left over ham from their sandwich be chopped and used to bake some cheesy muffin bites?

    You will need to be aware of how long the food has been leftover as certain foods require colder of more protected environments. However, there is nothing wrong with wanting to extend food and be resourceful. Food is precious and is worth being thrifty with (as long as you are sensible and careful).
  • When first introducing new products, especially when they are reusable or sustainable, (food wraps for example), it is a good idea to explain carefully to your kids what the products are and how they are used. You DO NOT want your new products going in the bin or being misused. 
  • Meal prep and pre wrap your sandwiches, breads and muffins in food wraps and store in the fridge. Wraps will lessen the chances of the bread going stale and hold fresh taste and texture for longer.

  • Cover the ends of fruits and vegetables (apples, kiwis, carrots, cucumber) with a mini food wrap. You can easily cut a cucumber into two or three pieces and cover the ends to keep it fresh.

- Food Recipes & Ideas -

Homemade Orange Roll-ups 

Ingredients:

1 cup of fresh orange pulp

30gm coconut sugar (or sugar substitute)

Instructions:

Mix the sugar and pulp together then spread it into a thin layer on a Reusable Baking Mat.

Dry in a dehydrator or bake in the oven (80C) for 3-5 hours. Timeframe depends on how thin the layer is and your oven settings.

Remove when it is no longer sticky and the centre has completely dried.

Let cool, cut and roll up!

Place the roll-ups in a food wrap (as pictured) for extra protection when going in the school lunch.

Homemade Popcorn 

Homemade Popcorn

Are you buying supermarket pre-made popcorn or are you buying air inside of a plastic bag?

Homemade popcorn is so much more cost effective and much less wasteful. One pack of popcorn kernels (or fill up as much as you want from a bulk food store) is going to make so much more popcorn for half the price and half the waste!

Make a giant bowl once a week and store in a large airtight container, you can portion into snack sizes with the use of reusable silicon bags, food wrap pouches or containers.

'Secret' Veggie Muffins

If you want to sneak some more veggies into your kid's diet try hiding veggies in some yummy muffins.

You can easily grate carrots or zucchini, squeeze the excess juice into a towel, cheese cloth or strainer, and mix into your muffin mix. Apple and raisins go very well with these two veggies. 

You can also consider substituting white sugar for coconut sugar or maple syrup.

Burrito'd Burrito

If you want to have some fun with the kids, try burrito wrapping a burrito or wrap! You are probably wondering what this means? Well...

Once you have made and rolled up a wrap (a wrap you eat) you can place it diagonally on a reusable food wrap and roll it up once again! Fold the top and bottom and you've got yourself a fresh and protected wrap... inside a wrap! Wrapception!

'Cornish Pasty' Sandwich

A traditional way of making Cornish Pasties was to make half the pasty savoury and the other half sweet so that it was two meals in one. This was enjoyed by miners when working underground.

To make this for kids you can meal prep multiple sandwiches, a few savoury and a few sweet and pair them one savoury to one sweet. Pop them in a food wrap and it is an exciting meal for your kids. This can work if you have one or more kids.

- Staying the Course -

So you've read some blogs, watched some YouTube videos, found your recipes. Your theory, ideas and plans are all there. Now... you just have to do it.

It can sometimes be easier spending hours doing meal plan 'research' but the biggest tip of all is to just get in the kitchen and get it done! Stressing about cooking or making lunches can often waste more time than by just getting it done.

Less food waste, less plastic waste and less time wasted!

If you are wanting to make the swap to a more sustainable lifestyle, don't forget to checkout all our amazing products on our website. If you have any questions don't hesitate to reach out to us, we are happy to help!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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