It’s the time of year when many of us begin frantically prepping for the start of the school term – and in a sea of uniforms, chair bags and seemingly endless booklists, giving thought to the humble lunch can be quite low on the priority list. But that’s where we come in, friends! We’ve sharpened our pencils, opened our exercise books and come up with a handy list of eco-hacks (plus a tasty recipe) that’ll help your little changemaker live their very best, planet-friendly playground life. Enjoy!
Pack a naked lunch. The most obvious way to give your little one’s lunch an eco-friendly makeover is to do away with any plastic-wrapped food. Instead, use beeswax wraps in place of plastic film, make smoothies to put in reusable bottles instead of sending them with juice boxes, and bulk-make things you can whack into the lunchbox in a millisecond (like our banana choc muesli bars below) – because in the manic rush that is getting kids out the door, every. second. counts.
Get crafty. Another way to ditch the plastic is by using paper bags (like these compostable ones from Hercules Sustain) to send their sandwiches and snacks to school. Not only is this better for the planet, but it means you can unleash your inner artist and put a smile on your little one’s dial from afar. Think drawn-on googly eyes, monster faces or just a plain ol’ love note – until they’re old enough to cringe and say ‘Muuuummmmmmm’, seize your chance to get sassy with their snacks.
Use refillable where possible. Going naked is all well and good, but no one likes a naked yoghurt – especially not the person responsible for washing the lunchbox at the end of the day. If your little one loves their dairy, these refillable pouches are an excellent way to give them their yoghurty hit without using disposable plastic.
Become a prepper. To avoid having to fallback on packaged snacks, preparation is your friend. Have veggies and fruit pre-chopped and ready to be thrown into the lunchbox, and muffins, fritters, scrolls and even sandwiches can all be pre-made and frozen. Basically, lunchbox prep is a WAR and you’re going to WIN IT. The Kitchen is your situation room – the freezer, your secret weapon.
Give toxins the heave-ho. From the lunchbox you choose to the icepacks you pack ’em in, make sure you always choose ones free from BPA, PVC, lead and phthalates. Stainless steels lunchboxes can be a hardy, plastic-free option, and these toxin-free ice packs are made from a condensation-free linen.
BANANA CHOC MUESLI BARS
We’ve whipped up this simple, nut-free, wholefoods recipe to help you plan ahead and avoid pre-packaged snacks.
2 ripe bananas
2 cups oats*
1 cup coconut flour (or fine desiccated)
1 cup puffed rice
¾ cup butter (185gms)
½ cup rice malt syrup (or honey)
Handful of raisins (optional)
2tp vanilla essence
100-150gms dark chocolate
*The oats can easily be replaced with almond, coconut or rice flour.
Preheat oven to 180℃.
Mash the bananas and then whisk the egg and mix with bananas.
Add all the dry ingredients (oats, coconut, rice puffs).
Gently melt butter, rice malt syrup and vanilla over a low heat until it just begins to bubble, then simmer for a few minutes (to caramelise).
Stir butter mixture into banana mixture, and add raisins (if desired).
Press mixture firmly into a square baking dish (approx 30cm x 20cm).
Bake for approx 20 minutes until starting to go golden.
Grate the chocolate and sprinkle even over the top while it’s still hot. How thick you want the chocolate is up to you!
Let it cool, then chill in the fridge before cutting into squares.
Wrap individually in grease-proof paper or paper bags so that they are ready to go at anytime.
It’s a fairly fool-proof recipe, so if you don’t need to avoid nuts, then add some nuts and seeds to mix it up! The recipe makes a lot and can easily be halved. Depending what size you cut them, it makes approx 15-20 small bars.
This post has been created in partnership with our friends at Hercules Sustain. The Hercules® Sustain™ Compostable Paper food bags are 100% FSC certified, recyclable and home compostable.