As the summer winds down and we jump back into our daily routine, it’s time to start thinking about…lunch!
Whether you’re packing a brown bag for your school-age child, trying to avoid your college cafeteria or considering your mid-day meal at work, there are easy ways to make your lunch healthier, less expensive and more sustainable!
Let’s use the “3 R’s” as a guide.
- Reduce: Eliminate excess packaging. Pre-packaged foods are temptingly easy, but you might be surprised that it takes only a few more minutes to buy in bulk and make your own “single-serve” packages. You can even pre-pack snacks for the whole week on the weekend, so you just have to grab and go each morning!This works for everything from cut raw veggies and hummus to pretzel crisps and cheese slices to hard-boiled eggs to homemade trail mix (create your own from a variety of nuts, pretzels, raisins and other goodies).Choose hard-sided BPA-free plastic containers, like those made by Tupperware or Rubbermaid instead of plastic baggies so you’re less tempted to throw them away and more likely to clean and reuse. There are even some fun bento boxes from Laptop Lunches and Bentgo, as well as other multi-compartment containers out there. Speaking of which…
- Reuse: In addition to putting food in reusable containers, you’ll also want to think about what those containers are packed in (First take care of the outside container, like a fabric bag – we’re partial to BlueAvocado’s cool designs – or even a retro-style metal lunch box), and then think about what goes inside. See below for a special offer from BlueAvocado!
- Recycle: Keep an eye out for the recycling symbol on plastics so you know what can be recycled instead of landfilled, and make sure to put it into the right container. Better yet, if you can find a composting station you might be able to avoid throwing any of your lunch in the trash!
And here’s one more bonus “R” for you – Rethink your humble but classic PB&J. There are a lot of non-traditional lunch ideas that are fun to experiment with, but I personally think there’s nothing better than a great sandwich. Here are five creative sandwich ideas that also pack well in your lunch box.
- PB&J+: Dress up your peanut butter & jelly sandwich by using almond, cashew or sunflower seed butter. Try unique jelly flavors (even some with spice, if you’re into that). Or simply add banana slices or even fresh blueberries for added healthiness and texture! Use bread that can stand up to the moisture of this sandwich, or even consider swapping the slices for rice cakes.
- BLTA: Try a bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado wrap in a whole-wheat tortilla.
- The Lox: Put smoked salmon, cucumbers and cream cheese on a mini-bagel.
- Pizza Rolls: Roll pepperoni or dried salami, pizza or spaghetti sauce, soft whole-milk mozzarella and whatever veggies you like (mushrooms, bell peppers, etc) into a wheat pita or flatbread.
- Applewiches: Sliced apples filled with peanut (or other) butter and granola, and maybe even a few chocolate chips.
Do you have other ways to make packed lunches more sustainable (or great new sandwich ideas)? Please share them with us in the comments below.
Enjoy your fall!
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