If the kids are getting back to school soon, you might be dreading making those packed lunches. Even if school will take place at home this season, these are some lunch ideas that your kids will love. If you've tried to eat more sustainably over the past few months, then you might be wondering how you can avoid letting the side down. The good news is that there are plenty of sustainable lunch box ideas. Here are some super simple suggestions:
Bored With Bread
Sandwiches are often a lunch box staple. But they don't have to be boring. Ring the changes and try out new combinations and sandwich fillings that your kids might enjoy. For example, how about:
- Healthy home-made jams/jellies (with honey, maple syrup or agave rather than refined sugar). (Perhaps combined with bananas, or a nut butter.)
- Pretty pink hummus (beets add a natural tinge) and crunchy veg. (Presentation can make a big difference to what they'll eat.)
Or, for bread beyond the sandwich, how about:
- Home-made mini pizzas (with vegan cheese if you don't eat dairy).
- Home-made flatbread rolls/ pita pockets filled with a range of ingredients.
- A flask of soup to enjoy with fresh baked bread.
If your kids can't stand to see yet another sandwich (or you can't stand to make them) then it is also worth remembering that bread is not the only carb to consider. Rice, pasta, potatoes, oats and plenty of other ingredients can give your kids the energy they need. How about:
- Pasta with various pestos, or tomato or sweet pepper sauce.
- A healthy veggie noodle soup.
- Breaded zucchini/rice balls.
- Boiled potato salads.
- Healthy , sugar-free oat flapjacks with plenty of fruit, seeds etc..
Making Fruits and Veggies More Interesting
Kids might turn up their noses at your carefully prepared fruit salads, salads or vegetable sticks. But there are plenty of ways to make them more appealing and interesting. For example:
- Pop blended fruit/ vegetable smoothies into a cool reusable container.
- Hide veggies by blending them into a pizza or pasta sauce.
- Disguise veggies in mini tarts or quiches.
- Bake fruits or veggies into healthy cakes.
- Turn vegetables (like kale, carrots, beet etc) into crisps/chips.
You can also simply use good presentation to make fruit and veg more appealing. Turn healthy snacks into a smily face that they will see when they open their lunch box, for example.
How to Swap Out Sweets
If you used to give your kids lots of packaged sweets and snacks in their lunch boxes, switching to a healthier and lower waste lunch box may mean you meet with some opposition! But if you have sure you swap out packaged sweets for something equally delicious, you should have fewer battles on your hands.
- Make your own gummies or chewy sweets with fresh local fruits.
- Make your own fruit roll ups (again, with healthier and more sustainable sweeteners).
- Bake your own cookies using fresh, local, sustainable produce.
- Prepare a chocolate cake or chocolate truffles with secret ingredients. (For example, how about a chocolate and beet cake? Or sweet potato chocolate truffles?)
The more you can take a DIY approach with your kids' lunchboxes, the more sustainable those lunch boxes can be.
Of course, it is also important to think about using reusable containers and avoiding single use plastics. So these things are also vital to consider. But finding delicious alternatives for lunch box staples that you can prepare yourself at home won't just save you money – it can help ensure a safe and secure future on this planet too.