What’s for Lunch, Mom?

When our boys started school two years ago, I loved making lunches. I felt like a real mom! But the thrill has worn off, and now the task of cleaning out the old lunches and prepping and packing the new ones seems slightly daunting. As with grocery shopping and dinner planning, I’ve got to be uber organized to stay on top of my near-o waste lunches. When my daily whirlwind in the kitchen is over, I feel exhausted, accomplished, and (still) like a real mom.

Here’s a typical lunch-making week in the life of this Near-O Waste, part-time-teacher, full-time-mom…

Monday’s lunch: Peanut butter and jam sandwich, spinach salad with peaches and balsamic vinaigrette, apple, and plain yogurt mixed with unsweetened apple sauce. (This would have been a good day to pack a banana instead of an apple and avoid the redundancy!) After school snack: Jamba Juice smoothie and soft pretzel.

IMG_8457 IMG_8458

What makes it Near-O: The spinach, peach, and lemon (for the dressing) were purchased using cloth produce bags. The dressing was made with bulk olive oil, purchased using my own jar. The bread for the sandwich was purchased (unwrapped) at a local bakery using a cloth bread bag and the peanut butter was purchased in bulk using my own jar. The applesauce and yogurt were purchased in glass jars. The Jamba Juice went straight from the blender into my water bottle and the pretzel went from the oven into my pan.

Recyclable waste created: After many more batches of dressing, I will ultimately recycle my empty balsamic vinegar bottle. I will reuse the mustard jar (another dressing ingredient), the jam jar (from the PB&J), the applesauce jar, and the yogurt jar.

(Visible) trash created: the pieces of waxed paper that were used to pick up my loaf of fresh bread and my pretzel. I’d *almost* prefer a bare (clean) hand!

Compost created: apple core and lemon peels.

Featured reusable containers: Think leakproof bento box, Wean CubeLife Without Plastic stainless steel container, Klean Kanteen water bottle, mason jars with Cuppow lids, and a Glass Dharma straw.

Tuesday’s lunch: Sliced apple with peanut butter, cheese, banana muffin (no added sugar), and potato chips. After school snack: dried mango and pretzels. Pretty monochromatic, now that I’m looking at a the picture!

IMG_8460

What makes it Near-O: The apples were purchased using a cloth produce bag. The peanut butter, dried mangoes, and pretzels were purchased in bulk using my own jars. The ingredients for the banana muffins were purchased in bulk using my own jars or in recyclable glass containers.

Recyclable waste created: none

(Visible) trash created: cheese wrapper (I still buy cheese at Costco) and potato chip bag (a snack derived via October’s Packaged Item Compromise).

Compost created: apple core, banana peels (from making the muffins), and muffin wrappers 

Featured reusable containers: Think leakproof bento box, Wean CubeLife Without Plastic stainless steel container, Bee’s Wrap, and a repurposed applesauce jar.

Wednesday’s lunch: green bean salad with carrots, cucumber, and homemade vinaigrette, granola with milk, peanut butter and jam sandwich, and an apple. After school snack: trail mix and a dried papaya spear (far right).

IMG_8402

What makes it Near-O: The veggies, apple, and lemon for the salad dressing were purchased using cloth produce bags. The dressing was made with bulk olive oil. The granola, peanut butter, trail mix, and papayas were purchased in bulk using my own jars. The milk comes in a returnable glass bottle. The bread for the sandwich was purchased (unwrapped) at a local bakery using a cloth bread bag.

Recyclable waste created: balsamic vinegar bottle and the plastic cap to the milk jar. I will reuse the mustard jar (another dressing ingredient) and the jam jar (from the PB&J).

(Visible) trash created: the piece of waxed paper that was used to pick up my loaf of fresh bread.

Compost created: apple core, lemon peels, and green bean, carrot, and cucumber ends.

Featured reusable containers: Think leakproof bento box, Wean Cube, Life Without Plastic stainless steel container, and a Crofter’s jam jar.

Thursday’s lunch: overnight oats (1/2 c. dry oats. 1/4 c. milk, 1 tsp. cocoa powder, and 1 tsp. honey, mixed and refrigerated overnight), ham and cheese, nectarine, and a banana muffin. After school snack: bagels and cream cheese.

IMG_8405 IMG_8425

What makes it Near-O: The ingredients for the overnight oats and banana muffins were purchased in bulk using my own jars, in recyclable glass containers, or (like the milk) in a returnable bottle. I acquired the ham this way. The bagels were purchased at a local shop and placed directly into my pan.

Recyclable waste created: I reuse my applesauce jars (a muffin ingredient).

(Visible) trash created: cheese wrapper (I still buy cheese at Costco.)

Compost created: banana peels (from making the muffins), and muffin wrappers 

Featured reusable containers: Wean CubesBee’s Wrap, and a cake pan

Friday’s lunch: yogurt and mashed bananas, peanut butter and jam sandwich, hard boiled egg, and an apple. After school snack: muffins. (I love Fridays!)

IMG_8426 IMG_8442

What makes it Near-O: The yogurt was purchased in a glass jar, which I repurpose when empty. The store I shop at accepts empty egg cartons for reuse. The muffins were purchased at a local bakery and placed directly into my pan.

Recyclable waste created: I reuse my yogurt jars and jam jars.

(Visible) trash created: the piece of waxed paper that was used to pick up my muffins.

Compost created: apple core and egg shells

Featured reusable containers: Think leakproof bento box, Wean Cube, and a cake pan

*Exciting News* Since starting this post, my boys have decided to like fig bars (which I can buy in bulk) and chicken (which makes a super easy lunch when we have dinner leftovers). 

Extra Near-O measures: a seasonal placemat (handmade by Gaga), a cloth napkin, and real silverware…

IMG_8463

Homemade hand wipes

IMG_8096

And reusable water bottles…

IMG_8464

My children literally don’t throw anything away at school. And in a week, I’m tossing a maximum of two items in the trash. Feels pretty great, I must say.

Wishing you all a wonderful week of work, play, and reducing waste…

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “What’s for Lunch, Mom?

  1. Compost_Lady October 13, 2015 / 1:22 am

    Great prep!

    Like

  2. Inge October 13, 2015 / 8:16 pm

    Thanks so much for this post! I’m always looking for ideas (as close to waste free as possible) for my pre-schooler’s lunch. And here I found some. I’ll take notes next week as you did. Our lunches look so much different, it’s very interesting. I’d love to go to the school and see all the lunches that the kids bring.

    Like

Comments are closed.