Another Healthier Habit: Low-Waste Lunches

posted by Andrea | 01/4/2018
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I’ve never been one to set New Year’s Resolutions — mainly because I think it’s sort of silly to set a lofty goal JUST because it’s the beginning of another year.

Instead, I set small goals for myself regularly throughout the year. However, I do always take some time to evaluate and/or alter my goals at the beginning of each year.

For the past several years, I’ve been diligently working to SLOWLY incorporate several healthier habits into my family’s daily life… things like:

  • drink more water
  • use butter instead of margarine
  • eat/drink full-fat dairy
  • eat better quality breads
  • eat more healthy fats
  • eat less processed meats
  • floss once per day
  • replace high fructose corn syrup with real maple syrup

I share more of an in-depth description (and reasoning behind) my healthier habits in this post… and honestly, these slow small changes have really stuck. I’m amazed at how many healthier, more nutritious choices we make on a daily basis with little to no effort. They are just second nature now!

The only one my children have protested is the maple syrup — they won’t eat it! So I compromised and now buy syrup from Costco that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it. It’s definitely not as good as maple syrup, but it is significantly less expensive and my kids are happy 🙂

This year, I’ve decided that my “healthier habit” will not only be more nutritious for my family but also “healthier” for the environment… because I’m doing my best to pack low-waste lunches!

What is a low-waste lunch?

I’ll be honest, I just made up the term “low-waste lunch” — but my goal is to waste as little food and use as little disposable packaging as possible when I pack lunches for Nora and Dave (or just for me and the kids at home).

For the past year, Nora has used this lunch box from PlanetBox. We both love it!

I can pack her an entire lunch and 2 snacks without using anything disposable (I usually pack her snacks in the round metal containers). Plus, I don’t need to worry about her setting food on dirty tables at school, she doesn’t need to ask her teacher for help to open bags or containers, and she can easily close up the box and take any leftovers home with her (which means much less wasted food).

I originally thought it might be cumbersome to pack her lunch in this box, but it’s actually so easy. I just fill up the containers and I know it will be plenty of food for her — and the food really does stay fresh even though I pack her lunches right after dinner the day before.

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The boys have similar Bento-style boxes from Stuck On You — they are SO cute!

They are dishwasher safe, completely leak-proof, and so fun for the kids to eat out of!

We don’t use them on an every-day basis like they will once they are in school, but whenever we go away during the day, we take these boxes with us. Sometimes, when I’m feeling like a fun mom, I’ll surprise them by packing their lunches in these boxes even when we’re staying home!

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We also ALWAYS take our own reusable water bottles and coffee mugs with us wherever we go.

Dave and I use the Aladdin one-handed water bottle and the kids use the Aladdin Flip ‘n Sip water bottle (I can’t find these for sale anywhere right now).

As I mentioned earlier this week, Dave uses the GoSili reusable coffee mug whenever he takes coffee on the go…  and our kids absolutely LOVE the SiliSkin Universal Straw Tops at home and on the go (I keep a few of them in our diaper bag at all times!)

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When it comes to snacking at home or on the go, our kids use these Munchkin snack cups. The kids are old enough now that they usually take the tops off — but I can’t even begin to count how many plastic bags we’ve saved as a result of these handy containers!

Speaking of plastic bags, we have a few of these SiliSkin reusable snack bags that work well for Dave and me to take snacks on the go.

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And finally, we use cloth napkins almost all the time.

I realize these changes won’t drastically reduce the world’s waste (or even our family’s waste) but it’s a step in the right direction.

Plus, by taking the time to pack our own lunches, snacks, and beverages, we are less likely to eat out, skip a meal, or just grab a bag of chips — meaning we’ll save money and empty calories!

I’m excited to continue packing low-waste lunches, drinks, and snacks for my family this year (and in the future).

I’d also love to know… what goals are you working on this year?

Filed under: LifeFoodTips and ToolsHealthGoing Green

 
 

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25 comments

  1. Gabriela

    01/17/2018

    Those lunch boxes look great! My daughter doesn’t need them yet, but I am looking around (good price and quality) for when I have to buy them.
    And those snack cups….you reminded me I had them and I need to look for them for my new baby – he’s 9 months so almost there… 🙂
    And the kids water bottle how easy do they wash…you know cause they get that black yucky stuff around the straw…can you reach to clean them well? I need some bottle for the baby. He doesn’t drink from regular bottle because I always nursed him and he is not used to it. But now I don’t know what kind of bottle to start him on.
    Sorry…to many questions….it just seems I am starting to learn everything all over again! Such a short memory!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    The kids water bottles are fairly easy to wash — but we ONLY ever drink water from them. I have a feeling they could get gross if they were drinking juice, milk, etc. Also, we use this bottle cleaner for all water bottles, baby bottles, or anything skinny. it’s AMAZING!!

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  2. ShellyL

    01/05/2018

    These are great. Too much waste and its impact on the environment are big concerns for me. I know I will be able to easily implement some of these ideas. One of my biggest concerns is plastic water bottles. I don’t like the taste of our water or necessarily trust the quality so we use name-brand plastic water bottles. We are moving soon and I will try to find another solution. I can’t count how many half-empty bottles I pick up from the kids. Using the small bottles helps, but it is still a lot of waste. Thanks for a great post!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    hopefully you’ll move somewhere with better water! Otherwise, could you have a filter installed on your kitchen faucet? That might save some water bottles when you’re at home!

    [Reply]

  3. Kerri

    01/04/2018

    My youngest does this. It is so easy for him to open and he doesn’t have to ask the teacher for help. But…one of my other sons has ADD. He never remembers to bring his lunch box home so I pack his entirely disposable so he can just throw everything away when done. Not the best for the environment but it saves my sanity.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good for you for doing what works for YOU and YOUR family! there is no “right way” to do school lunches, that’s for sure!

    [Reply]

  4. Lynn

    01/04/2018

    Love this post Andrea! I have started the year out packing my lunches for the few days I go into the office each week, it is healthier and cheaper. In addition, I have made many meals ahead – freezer meals and one this week actually incorporated Maple Syrup! I made my own recipe (as I couldn’t find one) that is called Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup and Bacon. It ended up tasting really good and I froze up six of them for later. (https://fulltimefulllife.com/freezer-cooking-twice-baked-sweet-potato-maple-syrup-bacon/). I’d love to know what you think of it!

    My other ‘resolution’ that I have been doing since December, is running for exercise again – only to be halted by the frigid cold here this last week!

    Love your blog!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Lynn! I’ll check out that sweet potato recipe too! We’ve been on a mini-sweet potato kick lately. The kids still don’t love them, but they are coming around 🙂

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  5. Barbara Kelly

    01/04/2018

    Re: switching to maple syrup : An idea is to mix real maple syrup with the syrup that the children like, gradually increasing the proportion of real to artificially flavored syrup. Maple syrup has valuable nutrients that the artificially flavored syrup does not. have. Over time, there will be a health benefit.

    [Reply]

    Jenny Reply:

    And I was thinking transfer the maple syrup to a container that the kids really like. They might not notice it’s the syrup they think they don’t like if it’s in a cool dispenser. I did this for my husband to make the switch. Now he’s fine with it!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I laughed out loud when I read that your did this for your husband — so funny!

    [Reply]

  6. Rhonda

    01/04/2018

    I like finding out about all of the different products that you use. I am interested to know more about how the Sili skin reusable snack bags seal up – it doesn’t look like a zipper, is it more of a snap enclosure? I’m really wondering if it’s a tight seal (to keep snacks from drying out).

    The PlanetBox is a neat idea – I wonder if I would have to have the whole “system”, or if the metal box insert would fit in most standard lunchbox cases (with a cold pack). It seems like a good investment, but I wonder if a carrying case that I already have (assuming it is the right dimensions) would be a suitable substitute. Also, I wonder if the seal in the compartments is tight enough to pack yogurt or applesauce in.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, they just snap close — so not a really tight seal.
    And for the planet boxes — we LOOOOOOVE them! I’m not sure if they would fit in a standard size lunch box or not. The “carrying case” is really nice because it has a spot for the ice pack and it’s the perfect size for the Plant Box.
    As for liquidy foods, I always put those in the round containers with tight-fitting lids (they come with the full travel system). We’ve never had any issues with those leaking.

    [Reply]

    Rhonda Reply:

    Thanks for the reply. The PlanetBox system is certainly an investment, but it sounds as though it’s well worthwhile!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, they are a little pricy, BUT if she continues to use it for years to come, it’s definitely worth it for me. probably not the right fit for every family though 🙂

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    We found the lunchbots brand of bento boxes and have been really happy with them. They are all metal like the planetbox ones but are about $30 cheaper. We got the cinco one for my son this past year. You’d still have to put liquid foods in a leak proof container. Just thought I’d share another option!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Hi Ronda,
    We found the lunchbots brand of bento boxes and have been really happy with them. They are all metal like the planetbox ones but are about $30 cheaper. We got the cinco one for my son this past year. You’d still have to put liquid foods in a leak proof container. Just thought I’d share another option!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow –this is great. Thanks for sharing!!

    [Reply]

  7. Cambria

    01/04/2018

    Do the straw top lids not leak? My kiddos are getting ready to get out of the sippy cup stage and I think these would be perfect. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    if the cup tips over, it doesn’t leak, but I’m certain it would/could leak if you held it upside down. I use the straw lids primarily at the table and when eating at a restaurant or someone’s house. The kids still have spill-proof water bottles for on-the-go situations.

    [Reply]

  8. Jenn S.

    01/04/2018

    I love this resolution! I too am trying to go healthier/lower-waste when it comes to food related storage and transport. I just bought a set of cloth napkins for my office at work! I figure I can just toss the one I used in my bag and bring it home to launder it when I need to.

    [Reply]

    Rhonda Reply:

    That’s a good idea to bring the cloth napkins to work. I have been trying to bring old (mismatched) silverware to keep at work to use, then just bring home to wash when needed.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh… the silverware is a great idea too! think how much plastic silverware you save!

    [Reply]

    ShellyL Reply:

    Oh! I needed this idea. I am constantly using plastic ware at work and when thinking about moving, I noticed that we have some mismatched flatware. I never connected the dots until now. Take real flatware to work. Thanks!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    this is such a great idea — good for you!

    [Reply]