Zero-Waste Lunch Ideas


If you've been reading for a while you'll know I'm trying to live a more conscious, sustainable life. This has meant a few things for me, one being trying to produce less waste. 

Being in school full time means I don't spend much time in or near a kitchen (not that I did before...). While I don't always succeed I have been trying to pack a lunch or at least a bunch ofsnacks to get me through the day. With the exception of my granola bar - don't even try to take away my FibreOne bars - my lunches are pretty much entirely waste-free, and this is how I do it.


One of the first things I made when I got my sewing machine earlier in the summer was this bento bag. I used this tutorial to make it and I absolutely love it.  That being said, it's slightly on the small side so if you're going to make your own I recommend cutting your fabric a few inches larger than the pattern says to ensure you have enough space to pack your lunches.

The mug cozy is also something I made and have used a ton. I created the pattern by modifying a pattern for a crocheted bowl and it's just the right size to fit a mason jar into. The thing I really love about it is that unlike other mug cozies I've seen, this one fits entirely around it so you never have to worry about the jar falling out. 


On top of the mason-jar-turned-to-go-mug I use my Cuppow lid. I love this thing. The one I use is designed to fit on any standard mason jar but they also make lids for wide mouth mason jars too. People make fun of me for drinking out of a sippy cup when they see me using it but hey, it works brilliantly and lets me conveniently drink out of my jar whenever I want to.


Inside my packed bento bag you'll find cotton pouches filled with snacks and a sandwich as well as small mason jars holding fruit, veggies, apple sauce, yogurt, or other foods that need a bit of extra protection/seal-age. On good days I also remember my spoon/fork...


Inspired by a post I saw a post on Reading My Tea Leaves about reusable pouches and plastic baggy alternatives these cute little cotton pouches were also recently made using my sewing machine. I followed this pattern but just used scrap fabric I had around to make the pouches all different sizes.


Now before you laugh at the snacks I'm about to suggest let me just say that I have a sensitive digestive system that makes experimenting with adventurous and flavourful foods not very fun. So with that in mind, here are a few of my favourite [simple] snacks to pack for a day at school:

  • Cheerios & Craisins - so plain, so tasty, and you can share with any toddler you encounter throughout the day (but only if you know the toddler please)
  • Trail Mix - this can be made as simple or as fancy as you like. I personally love the Kirkland trail mix from Costco but it's also fun to make your own custom mix with different things you pick out in the bulk section of the grocery store.
  • Fruit Salad - to reduce spillage and leaks, this is definitely a snackyou'll want to pack in a mason jar
  • Crackers - rice crackers, saltine crackers, wheat thins, those other crackers that you break in half to make the perfect cheese and cracker sandwich... any cracker will do!
  • Veggie Based Salad - a greek salad can go into a mason jar super easily or you can pack your salad elements separately and combine them all together when you're ready to chow down.
  • Pasta - pack leftover pasta dinners in glass containers, pop them in the microwave when you're ready to eat and boom! there's lunch.
  • Baked Goods - I could probably live off of blueberry muffins, orange-cranberry scones, chocolate cake, and chocolate chip cookies.
  • Sandwiches - I'm a PB&J kinda girl, have been since kindergarten, but you probably have your own grown up sandwich flavour that you'd prefer to pack...

I'm far from perfect when it comes to doing this every day and I'd say the thing I struggle with the most is remembering my mason jar to go mug.. But I'm trying. Do you have any tips for packing a zero-waste or low-waste school lunch?