9 Waste-Free Lunch Swaps Under $20

The environmental impact of single-use plastics is staggering. These plastics are not biodegradable and end up in our oceans, where they harm marine life or in ever-increasing landfill. 

If you’d like to do your part to reduce single-use plastic waste, let me show you how you can do so without breaking the bank. 

Here are our favourite waste-free lunch replacements that are mostly under $20, including glass and stainless steel alternatives.

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Waste-Free Lunch Swaps under $20

1. Replace plastic cling wrap with a reusable sandwich box

A sandwich is a great lunch option. It’s delicious, filling and easy to make. But if you don’t have a reusable sandwich box handy, you might end up creating a lot of plastic wrap or paper bag rubbish. 

A reusable sandwich box can help you keep your lunch clean and green without creating any more waste than necessary.

Assume you bring a salad sandwich to work three times each week. You may save up to 144 pieces of cling wrap, foil, or baking paper (whatever you use to hold your sandwich or wrap together!) by converting to a reusable sandwich box. Every little bit helps!

Check out Green Essentials convenient, reusable stainless steel square container is latch-free, small in size, and holds up to two sandwiches or other food.

Buy Reusable Sandwich Box or other reusable food containers that are more than $20

2. The leak proof container can last for years

This sturdy, leakproof stainless steel jar from Good To Go is ideal for large snacks and modest lunches and can be used for many years to come.

Also, switching from single-use cling wrap or takeaway containers to a multipurpose container like this one will save you a lot of money over the course of a year. 

Buy Good to Go stainless steel jar or other Stainless Steel Containers that are more than $20

3. Reuse your sandwich wrapping with a Keep Leaf sandwich wrap

When you have a Keep Leaf sandwich wrap, you don’t need cling wrap!

If you replace your cling-wrapped sandwiches and snacks with reusable Keep Leaf sandwich wraps, you may prevent up to 240 pieces of plastic cling wrap from going to landfill and harming our environment (assuming that you pack something wrapped in cling wrap every day). Isn’t that fantastic?

These convenient waste-free wrappers also serve as a placemat and include a velcro closure with a food-safe liner to keep your meal fresh. They are BPA, lead, and phthalate-free.

Buy KeepLeaf Sandwich Wrap or other Sandwich Wraps & Pouches over $20

4. Replace takeaway containers with a Glasslock container

The 710ml Glasslock container is a perfect alternative for carrying leftovers, packing a sandwich or wrap, storing a fresh salad, or even picking up takeaway.

If you bring your lunch from home in the Glasslock container every day or opt for a Glasslock container when you buy takeaway, you may avoid up to 240 throwaway takeaway containers from ending up in the landfill. 

Glasslock containers are composed of thick, high-quality glass with a BPA-free, leak-proof, stain-resistant plastic lid that snaps on. They are both microwave and freezer safe, which means any takeaway leftovers can be safely stored and reheated. 

Buy Glasslock containers or other glass containers over $20

5. Replace single-use zip lock bags with reusable EcoPockets

This set of three reusable ziplock bags is ideal for storing a variety of work lunches. The one, two, and six cup capacity bags will hold nuts, popcorn, slices, bliss balls, fruit, biscuits, muffins, sandwiches, and rolls.

You could save up to 720 pieces of cling wrap and single-use plastic zip lock bags every year by switching to a waste-free choice.

EcoPocket is constructed from PEVA (polyethylene vinyl acetate), a non-chlorinated vinyl that is frequently used as a safer & healthier alternative to PVC (polyvinyl chloride). It has no BPA.

Buy reusable zip lock bags or other reusable zip lock bags and pouches over $20

6. Replace unnecessary packaging with Stackable Lunch Boxes & Individual containers

These stackable lunch boxes are an excellent alternative if you prefer distinct containers to keep your food separate. You might use either the top or bottom area for one major meal, such as a sandwich, wrap, or leftovers, then fill the other half with snacks such as fruit, crackers, or almonds.

Cheeki’s leak-proof, double-stacked stainless steel lunch box is toxin-free, zero-waste, 100 percent recyclable at the end of its life, and extremely stylish. The inside of the lid of this zero waste lunch box features a silicone seal, and the cover is held in place by clips.

Another choice is the stainless steel Sustain-a-Stacker, which is constructed of 202 food-grade stainless steel and has 2 layers as well as a tiny container. With snacks on top, you can easily fit a sandwich or a salad in the bottom without using plastic wrap. Note this one lacks a silicone seal and is not leak-proof. However, it is suitable for non-wet foods.

Individual leak-proof containers of different sizes, like the Kids Konserve nesting trio (shown), are ideal for storing dressing, salad, fruit, yoghurt, almonds, and other snacks.

Buy stainless steel lunch boxes or Individual containers

7. Replace plastic cling wrap with reusable beeswax wrap

Cotton or hemp food wrappers wrapped with beeswax or vegan wax (candelilla and non-GMO soy wax) are reusable and adaptable, and can enable you to avoid plastic cling wrap from the school lunch box for good. They’re wonderful for sandwiches, fruit loaf, fruit slices, and wraps.

Reusable wax wraps adhere easily to one another with the warmth of your hand and can be cleaned with cold soapy water (not with hot water, as the wax will melt). With proper care, each beeswax or vegan wax wrap should last between 6 and 12 months.

Buy Beeswax and Vegan wraps

8. Use a zero-waste bento lunch box

A bento box lunch box is an ideal method to carry a balanced meal with the proper quantities while avoiding the use of plastic wrap or plastic packets. Bento boxes are reusable, durable, and can be used for many purposes. It is also easy to clean and store.

There are many benefits to using a bento box lunchbox.

​​First of all, it is environmentally friendly as you will not have to use as many plastic products.

Second, it will be more durable than paper or styrofoam containers that are not meant for reuse.

Third, you can put in any type of food so you will not have to worry about what you will eat later in the day or if your food will spoil before you get home.

While Bento boxes are generally more than $20, their regular use and durability mean that they are worth the investment. Here are some bento lunch box options are listed below:

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The Planetbox is a smart stainless steel lunch box that leads you through the process of preparing a well-balanced, litter-free meal. Its bento design keeps food separate, and while it isn’t leak-resistant, the Planetbox dippers are and are great for yoghurt or wet meals.

A Planetbox will last for many years, will help you replace single-use plastic, and will save you money by allowing you to buy food in bulk.

Planetbox is available in three sizes, with the Rover Kit (shown) being best for pre-school children all the way up to adults.

Buy Planetbox

Yumbox Lunch Box

The Yumbox original contains five compartments designated according to the five dietary categories and can hold half-cup portions. This is excellent for supporting parents in making a nutritious, well-balanced lunch that includes a range of meals.

The Yumbox also removes the need for zip-lock bags, various lids, plastic wrap, and single-use throwaway containers such as yoghurt tubs.

It is even leak-resistant, and while it isn’t intended for really wet meals, tomato sauce, chunky salsas, hummus, yoghurt, and vegetarian dips are all excellent possibilities.

Buy Yumbox lunch boxes

Go Green Lunch Box Set

The Go Green lunch box set is ideal for a nude school policy and for reducing plastic waste.

Each Go Green school zero waste lunch box includes a five compartment bento style food container, an insulated fabric carrier,  a stainless steel water bottle, and a reusable gel freezer pack that are all free of BPA, PVC, and lead.

The insulated carry bag is made of PEVA and polyester and has a colourful design on the exterior and an interior pocket for reusable napkins and utensils.

Medium size is also available for smaller children or extremely light eaters. The medium version does not include a carry bag or a water bottle. It does, however, fit in the PackIt classic freezable lunch bag

Buy Go Green lunch box sets

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This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase using the links there is no extra cost to you and I earn a small commission that helps me to provide free, valuable and useful information for you! Thanks, Joyce

About Joyce Watts

Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

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