Zero Waste Lunches for Back To School

In order to help you get ready for back to school, we’ve created this helpful list for you to prep the best school lunches completely waste free!

Here’s a list of 10 items you can pack in a school lunch with zero-waste.

1. Sandwiches

One of my favourite household items is my breadmaker. It’s a great way to keep fresh sandwich bread on hand, and can be really easy once its part of your routine. It saves money and you can rest easy knowing your family is getting a healthy bread, free of preservatives. Pro-Tip: On Sunday’s I portion out all the dry ingredients and wet ingredients into containers for the number of loaves I need for the week. So all I need to do is dump them in and turn the breadmaker on.

For sandwich ingredients, you can find all sorts of jams, nut butters, and other spreads in environmentally friendly glass jars. Egg salad sandwiches can be made waste free as well.

2. Baking

My household rule is, as long as it’s homemade, it’s “healthy”. I figure if you’ve made cookies, squares, or muffins from scratch, they’ll be free from additives and preservatives, and that must outweigh any butter or sugar, right? 😉

Make sure if you’re baking muffins to either avoid using liners or choose certified compostable baking cups.

3. Granola Bars

There’s tons of fantastic homemade granola bar recipes online. You can wrap them up individually in compostable wax paper or parchment paper, or place them in small reusable containers to pack in your lunches.

4. Fresh Fruit

Apples, bananas, oranges and other fruits all come with their own wrapping – the skin! Berries are a nice treat for your lunch, but can be tricky to find not packaged in plastic clamshells. Take advantage of seasonal fruit in your area and go berry picking or to a farmers market to find local berries in compostable flats.

5. Leftovers

Get in the habit of making a larger portion of dinner, so your family can enjoy it again the next day for lunch. It takes very little extra effort and will save time the next day.

6. Crunchy Snacks

Crackers can be a tricky one. I’ve tried making homemade zero-waste crackers before and they’re really just not great. So if you have trouble with making your own as well, your best options are to buy them from a bulk store like MapleStaple. Or if you must purchase them from a store, do your research and find the largest bag possible, in order to portion them out into smaller containers and reduce the amount of waste. Nuts, pretzels and flavoured popcorn are all great options too.

7. Fruit Snacks

Kids love those tiny pouches of fruit snacks that everyone buys in bulk from Costco. I constantly see these wrappers littering our nearby schoolyard. You can help keep the neighborhood clean by making your own fruit snacks at home, it’s easier than you think! There’s lots of great recipes online. You can also use a food dehydrator to create your own delicious dried fruit snacks and fruit chips.

8. Jello + Pudding

Jello and puddings are easy to make, they just require a little pre-planning so they have time to set. But the benefit to making these items is that you can get a large batch made for a whole week’s worth of snacks. I use up-cycled baby food jars to pour mine into, they make a perfect little portion size for kids lunches.

9. Veggies + Dip

Carrot sticks, celery, and all their veggie friends, are a great way to snack guilt-free with this healthy option. Dressings and dips can be purchased in large glass jars, then portioned out in the small dipping sized containers to take on the go.

10. Salad

Salad is something that can be prepped the night before and mixed in the morning to keep lettuce crisp. There’s tons of combinations out there, you can find them with a quick google search, to create delicious and filling plant-based lunches. Salad doesn’t even need to mean lettuce. You can get creative with beans, quinoa, couscous and more. Most of these ingredients can be found entirely zero waste.