You know summer’s days are numbered when the back to school supplies roll out, and for many that also means more lunches away from home.
Whether you’re a parent who packs kids’ lunches or just looks forward to that midday snack on your reprieve from work, there are some pretty nifty things you can do to make lunchtime sustainable. From the evidence we’ve seen, rethinking the packed lunch can literally change your life for the better. Less fast food visits and planned meals lead to healthier eating habits and fast-acting, yet long-burning energy to keep you going throughout the day. If you never pack a lunch, bringing food from home could save you around $2000 a year, reduce your carbon footprint and inspire endless surges of creativity.
Go Green, Save Green
Brown paper bags and ziplocks? You’re better than that!
Think outside disposables and start packing in reusable containers! Throwaway bags not only contribute to landfills and litter on land and sea, the plastic bags also often contain toxins, like BPA, PVC, latex and phthalates, that could transfer over to your food.
And by investing a little more money on more permanent lunch storage solutions up front, you’ll be saving lots of cash in the long run.
- Reusable snack and sandwich wraps: not only do these self-sealing wonders keep your tasty creation safe and sanitary, you can use them as many times as you wish, without the weird chemicals found with plastic. With an array of neat designs, these bags and wraps are a healthy blend of conscious and cool.
- Vintage sandwich bags: You’re hip, so why not show it by throwing back to a simpler time?
Pack it up, Pack it in
Whether you like sandwiches or not, there are plenty of other options out there for conquering hunger, and just as many ways to creatively store, display and prepare food brought from home.
- Mason jars: Ahhh, classic Ball jars. Sure, the glass can be a little heavy if you’re planning a three-course lunch, but these things are so handy, and there’s so much you can do with them. Pack your favorite salad or green drink in a jar and you’ll have a healthy cache that you can “find” later. And with all the accessories that fit into jars of every size, like sip lids and drink infusers, you can make the jar work for you!
- Bento boxes: You don’t have to be from Japan to enjoy these containers of compartmentalized creativity. Check out this blog about bento boxes and the bento lunch pins on our Pinterest page (this is where the inspiration comes in– we’ve seen some amazing food creations in the name of the themed bento).
- Lunch boxes: Yep, lunch boxes. Whether you prefer the old school tin box, or newfangled lunch pails with all the bells and whistles, there are some pretty enticing options available. If storage is what worries you, try the locally-produced SmashBox, a collapsible silicone lunch pail with an indentation for a plastic spork in the lid.
- Thermos: Pretty obvious to some, but if you put that piping hot soup, stew or pasta into your favorite thermos and crank down the lid, you’ll have a hot meal whenever hunger decides to hit.
This is the most important part. Lunch should be a fun part of the day, not a looming chore of chew, swallow, repeat.
If you make the kids’ lunches the night before, allocate at least a few times per week when they can put their own smorgasbord together. It’s a valuable skill builder, and once they see the possibilities, they may just relieve you of that nighttime errand, and they may do so willingly, enthusiastically even.
Try creating a game plan for the week’s lunches, aligning everyone’s palates with seasonal and nutritious groceries that can be incorporated strategically into the week’s meals. Unseat the monotony of the PB&J or bologna with cheese, and become the king or queen of planning, packing and devouring colorful, balanced, delicious meals that keep your mood up and energy soaring.
Pack healthy, creative, diverse meals, and you’ll not only be feeding your growling stomach, you’ll be feeding your wallet, brain and conscience as well.