This year, in a few easy steps, you can make school lunch packing healthier, easier and better for the planet. Free your child’s lunch from the mid-school year doldrums and go green with the following tips.
Choose a versatile, reusable container — something that’s colorful and easy-to-open. Here are a few products that make lunches fun to eat, and waste-free:
Yumbox — These are leak-proof and dishwasher-safe. They have fun pictures and labels on each compartment, which makes packing a breeze. The compartments also help with portion control: give young kids only a few pieces in each box; older kids can have the same item, just more of it. Buying family-sized containers and only giving kids what they’ll actually eat means no money or packaging is wasted. Yumboxes come in four- and six-compartment varieties.
For older kids, the four-part model can hold a whole sandwich. Each type has a tiny section perfect for dip or a dessert.
Thermos Funtainer — Thermos makes great holders for hot or cold food. Made of stainless steel, they don’t leach chemicals into the food and prevent from having to throw anything away. The drink containers open with one button, have a straw for no mess, and come apart easily for cleaning. The food containers are great for heated up leftovers or cold yogurt parfaits and hold food’s temperature great until lunchtime. You can buy them decorated with your child’s favorite character, but they are so durable you might want to go with neutral colors since they will last longer than your son’s interest in Paw Patrol.
Silicone Cupcake Liners — Available at most craft stores, these colorful, flexible cups used as dividers can turn any container into a fun lunch — and keep foods from touching, which we know is a deal-breaker for some.
Make it Less Work for You
Mornings are always a rush and often are full of yelling at our house, so we moved lunch-making to after dinner. One kid and one parent pack up leftovers and lunches for everyone for the next day. This way, kids learn the work that goes into preparing food and how to be a part of a team. When they can be involved in the decision-making, it helps children learn to make healthy choices.
At the beginning of the week, fill a large bowl with a variety of colors — red tomatoes, orange carrots, yellow peppers, green celery and cucumbers, etc. Once things are all cut up, it’s easy for a child to pick the items they like to fill the veggie compartments of each lunch box. A big bowl can easily cover a few days — and when it’s out on the table after school with some hummus or dip, it makes eating healthy easy and convenient.