How to pack a healthy, waste free lunchbox
I learned over on Melissa’s Green Parent blog that this week is National lunchbox week. Unfortunately, it’s sponsored by Sun Valley, and although National lunchbox week is to promote healthy lunches, SunValley are manufacturers of items such as Worcester Sauce flavour pretzels. Hmmmmmm. They might be fine, I’ll reserve judgements, as I’ve never seen a pack to check out the ingredients.
Two of my passions regarding children’s (or adults!) lunchboxes are creating healthy food with minimal waste.
When I took on my first job, not only was my lunchbox full of the most unhealthy things like chocolate bars, crisps and white bread sandwiches, but I produced a lot of waste too. Each day I would throw away clingfilm and an assortment of non recyclable waste such as plastic wrappers and foil lined packets.
It never dawned on me to do otherwise.
Thankfully, by the time Little Miss Green was starting school I had woken up to the idea that, as Hippocrates stated, food should be our medicine and medicine our food,
So here some tips for a healthy, waste free lunchbox:
1- Reduce the chance of food sensitivities and allergies by rotating the foods you put into the box. eating the same things for days on end can lead to sensitivities in certain individuals.
2- We rely so much on wheat in this country. Many people begin the day with a wheat and sugar based cereal, have sandwiches for lunch (wheat bread) and then grab something quick like pasta for tea. So ring the changes. It’s not always easy: wheat is convenient, cheap to get hold of and readily available, but you’ll end up with a child who will eat a wider range of foods if you can put the effort in.
3- Try things like ryvita, oatcakes, corncrispbreads or rice cakes. Spread with butter (I personally don’t go for all this ‘low fat’ stuff for children; good quality, organic butter is a good healthy choice for an active, healthy child) and place them loose in the box – there is no need to wrap these in clingfilm. If you put them butter side together they will just stick to one another. You can use nut butter such as almond or cashew, humous or guacamole for an additional topping.
4- A good protein boost could be a few cubes of cheese or a hard boiled egg. Both are easy to transport and do not need excessive wrapping. An egg comes in its own wrapping and cubes of cheese can be placed loose in the box or in their own small container.
5- Dried fruit is easy to transport and great for snacking on. Try bananas, mango, raisins or even blueberries and cranberrries for a yummy treat. These can be put into a small reusable plastic container.
6- Fresh fruit comes in its own packaging designed by Mother Nature! Bananas and apples travel well or you could put a small pot in the box containing grapes, or seasonal berries.
7- For healthy puddings you can make or buy organic natural yogurt – it’s so easy with a yogurt maker and stir in some honey, organic jam or fresh fruit
8- Instead of chocolate try making shortbread, individual muffins or flapjack. There are healthy recipes available and you can add things like raisins or other dried fruits to make a delicious and satisfying treat. By making your own you are reducing plastic wrapping and other non recyclable waste.
9- Don’t forget the drink! All children need is a bottle of good quality water, to kep their brain functioning well, and to aid concentration. If they want to ‘look like everyone else’ who is taking squash then send them off to school with herbal tea or diluted fruit juice.
10- For the ultimate in luxury get yourself a laptop lunchbox. They are expensive, but will enable you to pack a waste free lunch everyday. If you want to steer clear of plastic, then you can buy stainless steel stackable containers, called tiffin, which are perfect for a packed lunch. This enables you to take things like rice or pasta salad for a change too. Or why not get a stainless steel flask and take some home made soup for lunch?