Waste-free school lunch box

what to put in a litter-free lunch box

Discover how to make everyday healthier by packing and eating wrapper-free, litter-free foods.

Children feel fresh and healthy when they eat a healthy lunch.

Trudy and readers of foodtalk's newsletter generated the ideas that follow.

pack a wrapper-free 'nude' lunch box

Waste-free, litter-free food is usually healthier for you and the kids.

It also helps to reduce land-fill which in turn may go a little way to help save the planet for our young ones.

Target at least one day a month, if not more, to pack wrapper-free lunch boxes.

The idea with this is not to use throw-away wrapping like cling wrap and foil, and yet minimise the use of paper wrappers as well - essentially "nude food"

You will need reusable plastic/metal containers or plastic-backed fabric lunch sacks to avoid squashed food or messy bags.

What to include in a litter-free lunch box?

  1. ‘Cute’ vegetables. Cherry tomatoes, baby cucumbers (grocers and supermarkets sometimes have early picked, mini-produce such as baby capsicum and baby cues), baby corn, raw green beans, snow peas, raw asparagus spears, mushrooms, and blanched broccoli and cauliflower tips.
  2. Edible wraps. Dolmades, sushi, slaw and baby corn wrapped in a cabbage or lettuce leaf secured with string, or shredded vege tucked up inside a rice paper wrap. Not in an edible wrap but worth adding to the school lunch box would be banana leaf parcels (google this to discover some great ideas).
  3. Hunky vege. Cooked jacket potato, washed raw baby carrot, cooked corn re-wrapped in the original leaves which can be tied on with string or secured with a toothpick or elastic band. The vegies can be cooked and cooled the night before ready for the morning lunch box rush.
  4. Obvious fruits. Apples, pears, mandarins, oranges, banana, grapes, cherries, berries, lychees, kiwi fruit.
  5. Protein power-houses. Eggs (pre-boiled and ready-to-go), cheese cubes, and prawns in their shell if keeping things cool is not an issue.
  6. Peanuts in their shell. Not an option if your child’s school is nut-free but a great idea for the cinema or home DVD night (ticks all the boxes at the cinema for noisy, annoying crunchy messy snack food!)
  7. Hard raw nuts. Send walnuts, brazil, and almonds sent along with a nut cracker. This is an idea for adults and stronger older kids but not an option if the school is nut-free.

in the spirit of reducing wrappers

Now the following are not exactly ‘naked’ but are included because they are in the spirit of ‘rubbish-free’ leading to a little less land-fill.

Instead of buying single serve packaged items, which come with their own disposable packaging, buy foods in bulk packs.

    • Get the kids to repack the contents into mini-serves. You will need stacks of re-useable plastic/metal containers, so recycle and use the empty plastic food jars from peanut butter, preserved fruit, sauces bottles. Think: yoghurt, canned fruit, dried fruit, custard, air popped corn, pretzels, dry breakfast cereals, olives ...

Avoid single serve juice packs and throw-away water bottles.

    • Get a leak-proof refillable bottle. Fill with water. Freeze if possible to add extra chill to the lunch box.

Finally ask, the consumers (kids and whoever takes a rubbish-free naked lunch) to bring home the scraps.

    • Feed the scraps to the chickens and worm farm, or pop the scraps into the compost heap or worm farm.
    • Keep an eagle eye out for uneaten/half eaten stuff. Adjust what goes into the packed lunch next time.

All in all, a litter-free lunch means there are fewer wrappers and less trash to throw in the rubbish bin.


For bonus packaging tips, click the link-bar. To read a transcript of the "Healthy Lunch Box" video click the other bar.

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