Back-to-school is around the corner and that means back to packing lunches (sigh). With many schools increasingly adopting “Litterless Lunch” policies, the pressure is on parents to pack more eco-friendly lunchboxes. However, while research* shows that 76% of Canadians would like tips for little changes they can make in everyday life that would benefit the environment, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Here are my three tips to make your child’s lunch more sustainable and waste-free:
1. Portion to reduce packaging
Buy food you’ll use in your child’s lunch, like yogurt or applesauce, in larger quantities. Purchasing a big tub that you can portion into reusable containers, rather than individually packaged cups, will help avoid wasteful packaging.
Put reusable or wooden cutlery, cloth napkin and a reusable cup or water bottle into your child’s lunch box to reduce what’s thrown away. A water bottle is also something you can personalize so kids can stand out from their friends.
2. Consider where your food is coming from
If possible, grow your own lettuce, herbs or vegetables. This saves on packaging and transportation-related emissions, which helps reduce your carbon footprint. It’s also a great activity for engaging the kids.
When shopping, look for products from companies that are prioritizing eco-friendly initiatives. This is usually identified in packaging. For example, the Carbon Zero logo on Maple Leaf Foods products means we prioritize reducing and balancing out carbon emissions and making a positive impact on the environment. Fun tip – try Maple Leaf Foods cold cuts for sandwiches and use cookie cutters to create fun shapes your kids will love!
3. Meal plan, ‘upcook’, and make your own snacks
Instead of buying individually wrapped snacks at the grocery store, try healthier, more environmentally conscious options. You could also turn this into a Sunday activity with the kids by batch-making homemade granola bars. Not only can this be a fun family activity, but you’ll save countless wrappers from going to a landfill.
Meal planning helps to reduce food waste. Are you likely to have leftovers that can be ‘upcooked’ and added to your child’s lunch? Leftover chicken from last night’s dinner can be used on a sandwich, or leftover bacon from breakfast can be a tasty salad topping.
It’s easy to be an ‘eco hero’ this school year with more sustainable lunchboxes. From being mindful of packaging to getting creative with leftovers, there’s plenty of ways to create your own ‘litterless lunch’ while also making it fun and engaging for kids. After all, there’s no Planet B!
To learn all about key environmental terms and some little changes you can make in your everyday lives that have a big impact on the planet, visit: https://www.mapleleaf.ca/carbonneutral/green-glossary/
Here are a couple of great lunch boxes to try:
Minimalbottle bento boxes
The natural fiber bento boxes are made of discarded rice husks and are microwave/dishwasher safe – retail price is $20-$25
Bentology Bento Box Sets
Bentology’s insulated lunch bags come in seven different prints and styles including a colorful kitty, blue and green camouflage, midnight blue and more! Each insulated bag is equipped with multiple convenient compartments as well as a water bottle holder on the side for additional storage. The reflective insulated lining is easy to clean, and the netted compartment is perfect to store utensils, napkins or even an ice pack.
ECOlunchbox and Blue Water Bento stainless steel modular lunch box containers. 100% plastic-free food containers for lunchtime, snack containers with lids, outdoor adventures, restaurant takeout or just about anytime you’re feeling hungry for the zero waste lifestyle!
About the author
Chef Sam Lazuric, Corporate Chef for Research Development and Technology at Maple Leaf Foods, has more than 15 years’ experience combining her passion for food with corporate culture and sustainability. Chef Sam leads Maple Leaf Foods’ culinary department to achieve the highest standard of excellence through products which nourish Canadian families from coast to coast. She combines her skill and business acumen to apply consumer insights, which determine flavour profiling and emerging food trends and leads the development of the hundreds of delicious recipes for Canadian families on mapleleaf.ca. Chef Sam’s drive and creativity provides endless inspiration for families looking to incorporate tasty and sustainable habits into their cooking routines.
*About this Study: These are the findings of a study commissioned by Maple Leaf Foods among a nationally representative sample of 1,532 Canadians who are members of the online Angus Reid Forum, balanced and weighted on age, gender, region and education. For comparison purposes only, a sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.4 percentage points at a 95% confidence level. The study was conducted in English and French from March 17-21, 2022.