Until last year, we had hot lunches to go with our homeschool days. You know, I’d lock the girls in a closet to prevent them from socializing while I cooked up something tasty. Kidding. Just a little homeschool joke there.
Actually, we were frequently so busy out of our home, socializing with the entire community, we packed a lot of lunches. But I packed everything into our large stacked tiffin containers, and we’d eat from the same containers, sharing our family germs back and forth.
When Ava went to school-school for the first time last year, I had to rethink lunch. She needed food that she would eat while surrounded by the sights and smells of her classmates’ lunches, including the school lunches that used to set off her involuntary gag reflex.
We found a PVC- and lead-free fabric lunch box with a lid that Ava props up as a scent shield, so she can smell more of her own lunch than those around her. I pack her food into smaller tiffins and natural waxed paper (natural as in compostable unbleached paper coated with vegetable, not petroleum, wax).
Lunch less plastic is possible, it doesn’t take long to pack, and it’s tasty.
Here are a couple of the girls’ recent lunches less plastic:
In large rectangular tiffin: Brown rice cake, sheet of nori, Old Amsterdam cheese wrapped in waxed paper.
Medium round tiffin: Fresh concord grapes from Lake Chelan. The girls’ grandfather picked them himself and their grandmother delivered them to us in a recycled cardboard box.
Small round tiffin: Home-baked gluten- and dairy-free chocolate gingerbread cookies. The only refined sugar in the cookies is in the scant chocolate chips, and I use blackstrap molasses to up the iron content.
Plastic alert: The rice cakes and nori both come in plastic packaging. I can recycle the rice cakes’ outer bag. I reuse the inner plastic to scoop poop when we walk our dogs, and the nori’s zippered plastic bag is handy for other dry good storage at home.
What about the cheese? We are so lucky – A friend of mine on the island orders bulk cheese each month through a chef friend of his, and we can share his order at prices below retail. He’s happy to wrap our portion in waxed paper if I provide him with a roll of it. Plastic-free cheese, and good cheese at that! Heaven.
Everything else came home without plastic packaging, including the flours and other cookie ingredients – I buy those in bulk; the flours come in unbleached paper bags, and I use glass jars for the cocoa and chocolate chips.
I forgot to put their snack into that first photo shoot, so here it is. These are some of my new Rawbecca bars (thanks to Liesl for the name), wrapped in that same waxed paper. Today’s bars are chocolate chip orange, made from raw almonds, Medjool dates, prunes, unsweetened cocoa, cacao nibs, sea salt, and orange essence. No refined sugars at all, and they’re plenty sweet and full of good things for growing bodies. The girls start school early each day and have a morning snack break; one of these bars tides them over until lunch.
A lunch and snack from last week:
In the large rectangular tiffin: Organic corn tortilla chips and mozzarella cheese wrapped in waxed paper (our DIY string cheese).
In the medium round tiffin: Blanched home-grown green beans tossed with a splash of lemon juice and tamari.
In the small round tiffin: Dried cranberries and cacao nibs.
On the side: Rawbecca bars wrapped in waxed paper. These were Orange Creamsicle bars, made from raw almonds, Medjool dates, orange zest, sea salt, vanilla extract, and orange and lemon essences.
Plastic Alert: The tortilla chips come in a paper bag with a plastic liner. We need to work on making our own! The mozzarella comes in polyethylene plastic that I wash very well so it can be recycled.The tamari comes in a glass bottle with a plastic lid.
Everything else came without plastic packaging, either from our garden or the bulk department or in glass bottles with metal lids. Of course, I’m guessing that the bulk almonds and dates are shipped to our local grocery store in plastic bags, but at least this is a start.
So, what are you doing for school and work lunches? I’d love to hear about it – The more lunch less plastic ideas we share with each other, the better for all of us and our planet!