In addition to the health benefits of avoiding plastic containers and packaging for food and drink, there are the obvious environmental benefits gained by reducing the demand for plastic and choosing the more durable and sustainable glass or stainless steel option instead.
Finding lunches that your loved ones will eat is hard enough, without then trying to avoid the plastic packaging as well, so here a few suggestions to get you started. The key to packed lunches is to plan ahead. Thinking about it at 8am on a Monday morning is a recipe for disaster and plays straight into the hands of easy to reach plastic wrapped snacks.
Here are some healthy and nutritional ideas, without the packaging:
Pasta – Hundreds of possibilities are open to you with pasta, from a simple sauce over the top to your favourite antipasti selection added with herbs. Just to a quick Ecosia search (ecosia.org) will show you how easy it is to put pasta in your lunchbox. It can be prepared ahead and will easily last a few days. Maybe make it on Sunday for lunches on Monday and Tuesday.
Rice/Grain – These can similarly be used instead of, or as well as pasta. And again the possibilities are endless.
Soup – Nothing better to warm you up on a cold winter’s day. Can be made ahead and even frozen until required. Not very practical for small children but consider giving them bread to dip in and soak up the soup, rather than having to spoon it out. And the thicker the better to avoid drips and spills.
Sandwiches – Of course sandwiches are the go-to for packed lunches, and why not? They are quick to prepare, easy to handle, and the choice of fillings are infinite. You can change it up slightly by putting the filling into a wrap instead of bread. And an easy way to remove gluten is by finding gluten free wraps.
Sandwich Filling Ideas
Egg, mayonnaise & cress – Can’t beat this old faithful.
Avocado, tomato and basil – One of my all time favourites.
Brie and cranberry – Our family favourite.
Hummus, lettuce, roasted pepper – Hummus is very cheap and easy to make, can be made ahead, and goes with most salad options.
Avoid the yogurt pouches. Instead, buy a large container of yogurt and decant into a jar or other container.
You can still pop in a treat. Make a batch of fruit muffins that can be frozen and just removed from the freezer the night before.
Rehydrate – A stainless steel water bottle will last you far longer than a plastic one, it’s environmentally sustainable and far more durable.
Containers – Sandwiches can be wrapped in reusable wax wraps, a great alternative to clingfilm. Stainless Steel containers are great too – though they might seem a little pricey they will last you a lifetime. An insulated container for soups and salads are great for keeping food hot or cold.
And don’t forget a piece of fruit or two. Oranges and bananas come with their own stay-fresh packaging.
We’re also educating our families as to what is possible, healthy and better for the planet. Just being mindful of what you are putting into your family’s lunches is a start.