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Over the years I have spent a lot of time trying to perfect my kiddies zero waste packed lunch bags. I have tried all sorts of products and gadgets and slowly whittled it down to the items that are easy to clean, easy to use and actually stand the test of time.
I thought I’d share my findings with you…
Zero Waste Packed Lunch Tools
To start with here are the tools I use to create a zero waste packed lunch…
Eco-Friendly Packed Lunch Bag
For my children’s packed lunches I use these sustainably sourced lunch bags from *WakeCup. They are lightweight, strong, vegan and have an insulated liner. The lunch bag is washable which is very handy when it comes to kids. Why do they always make such a mess inside them?! I’ve found them to be really easy to clean which helps as well.
They are tall enough to fit a reusable water bottle inside them too. The bags have a little pocket on the back which you can use to store little notes that you can write to your kiddies (or loved one) too which is very cute.
10% of profits from WakeCup products goes directly to their eco-charity partners The Marine Conservation Society.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while then you’ll already have heard me rave about Stasher Bag. I was sent some a few years ago and I still love them! They are perfect for the kids zero waste packed lunches. I use the smaller bags to put chopped up fruit and vegetables in and the larger ones to put their sandwiches in. They can also be used for things like nuts, pasta and other loose foods.
They are easy to wash and can be reused indefinitely. You can even put them in the dishwasher if you have one. If one of your bags ever came to the end of its life then you can send it back to Stasher Bag who repurpose them into floorings for playgrounds.
One of the main reasons I love them so much is because of how versatile they are. The bags can be used to heat food in the microwave or in boiling water on the stove. You can freeze food in them too. Definitely a must-have kitchen item for me.
Vegan Reusable Food Wraps
As well as the Stasher Bags I also use *reusable vegan food wrap which is great for wrapping up food. I normally use a small wrap to wrap the kid’s biscuits. You can also use them to wrap sandwiches, wraps to store leftover food in the fridge.
They work by the heat from your hands, as they heat up slightly they go softer and then you can mold them around the food. They then stick to themselves. You can get vegan wraps made from soy or beeswax wraps, both work really well.
Reusable food wraps generally last about a year with good care at which point you can put them into your home composter where they’ll break down. To clean them use warm water and washing up liquid and gently wipe them. Make sure they’re completely dry before storing them away.
If you need to put cutlery in your zero waste packed lunch then just use your normal cutlery from home instead of using plastic disposable cutlery. You can then wash it when you get home.
If you want to have a dedicated lunch box cutlery set then you can get some great reusable cutlery sets at *WakeCup like the one below. It includes a wooden fork, knife & spoon. Two wooden chopsticks and one reusable metal straw and cleaner. They are also really good for a picnic as they’re lighter than stainless steel cutlery.
Reusable Water Bottle
A reusable water bottle is a must for a zero waste packed lunch. There are so many to choose from these days. My favourite ones are the Klean Kanteen bottles. Out of all the ones we have they are the most durable and easy to clean.
It’s worth investing in a decent bottle that will last. A lot of shops sell cheap ones which break quickly, meaning you have to continually replace them which completely defeats the point of zero waste.
Reusable Stainless Steel Containers
*Reusable stainless steel containers are perfect for your zero waste packed lunch as you can put whole meals in them like for example Kung Pao tofu with quinoa and salad.
There are some fantastic containers out there with different sections so your food doesn’t all mix together. Personally, we don’t use stainless steel containers as I find the tools above are enough for the kids packed lunches. However, if I stopped working from home I would definitely invest in some for my packed lunches.
You can also use them to go to the butchers and buy your meat plastic-free if you’re a meat-eater.
Zero Waste Packed Lunch Food
The trick with zero waste packed lunches is to use foods that don’t come in packaging. Decanting snacks that came wrapped in plastic into reusable containers is not the answer as you still have the plastic packaging waste.
This is where food prepping comes in really handy! After you do your weekly food shop dedicate some time to prepping the food you’re going to use that week for packed lunches. For example, I pre-prep carrot & cucumber sticks so I can just grab them out of the fridge in the morning which saves me time every day.
You can also batch make things like pasta, quinoa, salads and sweet treats like biscuits. It saves you so much time during the week for the sake of a few hours at the weekend, so worth considering.
Here is a list of foods that you can use to create a zero waste pack lunch…
- Fruit (either cut up or as it is)
- Crudites with homemade hummus
- Homemade soup (If you have access to a microwave)
- Tablespoon of peanut butter in a reusable pot with apple slices to dip in
- Homemade wraps with a filling of your choice
- Sandwiches made from homemade bread
- Sandwiches made from store-bought bread and remember to recycle the bag using a Terracyle recycling point
- Pre-cooked pasta & sauce in a reusable pot (Remember your reusable fork)
- Pre-cooked quinoa
- Pre-cooked Rice
- Homemade biscuits
- Homemade cake
- Homemade muffins
About Gina Caro
Gina is a content creator and award-winning blogger. Her aim is to help you live a more sustainable & simple life. Her blog covers zero waste, minimalism, wellbeing & thrift. She currently lives in Cornwall with her partner, two kids and Charles the dog.