Back to school means back to packing school lunches. As more schools are implementing boomerang lunch policies, where everything in your child’s lunch bag that he or she doesn’t eat gets sent home again, how you pack your child’s lunch is becoming as important as what you pack.
Here are a few tips to ensure that less waste returns home after school:
Keep things fresh. Packing cheese cubes or a yogurt dip for veggies is certainly a healthy option but it will quickly loose its appeal if it’s warm and slimy. We have certainly tried the route of freezing food items to thaw for lunch but that hasn’t always been successful resulting in half frozen items. Using a small freezable ice pack like the cute fruit shaped packs from PC Home for the little ones or Target’s slightly funkier packs for the older kids (I’m partial to the shark attack design) ensure food items are kept are kept cool (and cool, if you know what I mean). Simply pull these from the freezer and place in the bag and then toss them back in the freezer when the kids bring them home for the next day. Don’t want to worry about cold packs? The Pack It lunch bags from Canadian Tire are completely freezable keeping lunch items chilled for up to 10 hours and there are so many fun designs.
Dish the paper towel. Some lunches are messy and getting mustard stains out of a white school uniform shirt isn’t how I like to spend my evenings. This means packing something for the kids to wipe-up their sticky fingers is not only helpful but in many cases necessary. Packing paper towel might seem like the obvious choice right? It’s made of paper so just toss it in the school’s recycle bin. Yet most paper towel isn’t recyclable meaning it will end up coming home for you to toss in the trash. An easy solution is to give the kids napkins like those ones you use at the dinner table when company comes over. If you’re feeling creative simply grab some leftover fabric to make your own. It doesn’t have to be fancy since the purpose to have the kids wipe their sticky fingers all over it. This may be something our Junior Style Blogger might want to add to her Beginner Sewing Tutorial list. Toss in the laundry with your evening load and they’re ready for the next day’s lunch box.
Forgo the juice box. Our school doesn’t allow for juice boxes due to the mess of sticky spills but no one wants a drippy milk carton or juice box to make it’s way home. Water has so many benefits for kids included. The Contigo Kids Auto Spout Water Bottle from Canadian Tire eliminates leaks even when in the open position and kids will love the push-button spout release action. The Brita Bottle for Kids at Best Buy has a built-in filter to ensure fresh tasting water whether it’s filled from the kitchen tap or the school bathroom sink.
Buy in bulk. Crackers, pretzels or cookies, a treat is always a nice surprise in your child’s lunch. Although you can find a lot of convenience packs of these prducts in the grocery store, save yourself some money and waste by buying in bulk. Pull out a few crackers or a couple of cookies and put them in a reusable snack bag like the lunchskins. Target’s 2-pack set gives you a sandwich and snack bag. Not only do they come in fun designs, you can even toss them in the dishwaher to clean. No plastic baggies in the trash. Boomerang Food Movers also at Target provide solid structure snack contains for that fruit salad or banana slices.
Keep the hot stuff hot and the cold stuff cold. Keeping fresh bread away from juicy strawberries or saucy pasta from touching the granola bar means no sloppy, soggy lunch stories. Using separate contains are great but this Fuel Bento Box from Best Buy keeps everything together in their own spots. Plus it’s customizable depending on what your lunch packing needs is that day. Staples also has a great steel Fuel food jar ideal for keeping pasta salad cold or tomato soup hot and the vacuum seal means no leaks within the lunch bag.
Keeping your child’s lunch as fresh as the moment you packed it means it’s more likely to get eaten and less waste returned home to you. Plus cutting down on packaging results in less for you to clean out of the lunch bag after school.
Now that you have your lunch packing planned, we have some ideas as to what food to send with your kids to school:
- 6 Muffin Ideas for the Lunch Box.
- Healthy Snack Ideas for School.
- 5 Trail Mix Recipes.
- 6 Vegetarian School Lunch Ideas.
- 6 Healthy Dip Alternatives.
- 6 Homemade Twists for Pizza Friday.
- 6 Granola Bar Recipes You Can Make at Home
- 6 Thermos Ideas for Hot School Lunches
Bring on the lunch room.