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12 Waste Free Lunch Problems Solved: FAQs

I think it’s fantastic that schools are embracing waste-free lunch boxes and ‘nude food’ policies to encourage families to avoid single-use plastic, disposable packaging and to create less waste. 

But if you’re finding it a challenge to meet school policies regarding healthy lunches or eco-friendly lunchbox packing, I’m here to help!

Firstly, the concept of waste-free lunches or “nude food” made without any disposable packaging, can indirectly make lunches healthier – so that’s a big tick first up. Reduced packaging usually means less processed food, fewer additives and simpler, whole foods. Just Eat Real Food!

For answers to other common lunchbox dilemmas when it comes to low-waste school lunch packing, read on. 

Waste Free Lunch FAQs

1. No plastic wrap

If your school has banned the use of cling wrap, reusable lunch boxes are a great solution. 

The separate, leak-proof compartments eliminate the need for a protective plastic layer. Plus reusable lunch boxes are more economical, as they can be used repeatedly, and they’re easy to clean and store.

Yumbox, Planetbox, or any individual container with a bento-style box eliminates the need to wrap little portions of food in cling wrap.

2. No single-use plastic bags

Stasher and EcoPocket are some great reusable zip-lock bags.

You can also wrap items in reusable food wraps by 4MyEarth and Keep Leaf and there are reusable sandwich pouches or food wrappers with velcro.

3. Tight budget for waste free lunch

While the initial outlay may be higher than buying a roll of cling wrap or a box of plastic bags, reusable lunch boxes are much more cost-effective in the long run.

First, they save you money by making it easy to your own food instead of buying a lunch order. 

You'll also save money since you won't have to buy plastic wrap anymore! 

Also, you can avoid prepackaged items in single-serve packaging like crackers and popcorn. It is cheaper to buy a bulk lot of snacks and to divide the food into smaller reusable containers. Plus you’ll be reducing lots of unnecessary packaging. 

4. My child won’t eat the food in the lunchbox

Food waste is bad for the environment and costs money. There’s nothing worse than having good food go to waste because your child won’t eat it. 

So get your child involved when you are grocery shopping and packing lunches so that they are more likely to choose the food they like and that you agree to be suitable for a school lunch box. 

5. No Fridge? No Worries!

What do you do with a lunchbox that sits in a school bag all day, especially during hot weather?

An insulated lunch bag (that’s free of PVC and led) with an ice pack (without the toxic blue gel inside) is the answer!  

Fridge To Go lunch bags have a removable chilling panel that can be frozen, and then once secured inside the bag the durable fabric interior keeps it cold for up to 8 hours. 

SoYoung and Go Green are brands with insulated lunch bags with sweat-free ice blocks.

PACKit freezable insulated bags have a gel liner built-in, so you don't even have to worry about ice bricks.

If your lunch bag smells or gets mouldy after only a few uses, ask your child to seal the lunch bag to keep it cool until they return home. Then, open the box at home and wipe it with vinegar and water. It can be later dried in the sun or open air.

Related: Best insulated lunch bags

6. Water bottle that doesn’t leak

Reusable water bottles are a great way to stay hydrated and healthy. 

If you’re not sure which bottle is the best for your child, here’s my round-up of the best leak-proof water bottles for children, so you can find one that suits your child’s needs.

A screw-top water bottle such as Klean Kanteen will not leak if it is fully closed. However, some children prefer a sipper top or sports top, such as the Cheeki Sports Water Lid – Tritech.

The EcoCocoon insulated stainless steel bottles and Contigo insulated plastic bottles are ideal for young children.

Related: Best kids water bottles

7. Lunch box that doesn’t leak

Go Green lunch box is absolutely leakproof with an easy-to-use lock that seals the internal sections.

U Konserve stainless steel nesting trio features leakproof lids and is more suitable for older kids as they are tight to shut.

Insulated food containers are leakproof and can be used to keep food such as pasta warm, yogurt, and fresh fruits cool until lunch.

8. Lunchbox needs to fit a sandwich

A sandwich is a typical school lunch so you should consider buying a lunch box that can fit a sandwich, such as Lunchbots Stainless Steel lunchboxes.

Otherwise, as above you can wrap sandwiches in reusable food wraps by 4MyEarth and Keep Leaf or put your sandwich inside a reusable sandwich pouch or food wrapper with velcro.

9. Lunchbox needs to fit a whole piece of fruit

Ever tried to squash an apple, peach, or mandarin into a lunchbox? No one likes to eat bruised fruit!

If your child prefers to eat whole fruit then the best choice for a large apple or orange is to use a deep lunchbox such as the Cheeki Hungry Max 1.5L which is 8cm deep or the U Konserve To-Go Square Container which is 7.6cm deep (most fruit is around average 7cm in height). 

10. Lunchbox needs to be plastic-free and leak-proof

All stainless steel containers require a small silicone seal to ensure it's leakproof. This seal doesn't come in contact with food.

Onyx stainless-steel containers, especially the little Onyx dipper, is very useful and easy to handle.

Kilner Glass The Food On the Go Jar (1 Litre, 500ml) or Glass container with a glass lid is best suited for older kids. 

Green Essentials Triple Laminated Bento Box 1500ml is not leakproof; although it is pretty tight. 

Planetbox is designed to prevent food from touching and while the lunchbox is not leakproof, the silicone lids on the smaller dippers are leakproof. These dippers can be purchased separately or together with the complete Planetbox kit.

11. Washable Lunch bags

SoYoung linen lunch bags look gorgeous and can be hand and machine-washed on a gentle setting. (Just remove the liner first).

12. Which lunch box fits which lunch bag?

What lunchboxes fit into the SoYoung insulated lunch bag?

SoYoung's insulated lunch bags are made from uncoated raw linen fabric with retro-inspired designs at the front. SoYoung also offers matching cooling packs to keep contents cool.

SoYoung lunch bags can fit these items:

What lunchboxes fit into the Keep Leaf insulated lunch bag?

The Keep Leaf insulated Lunch Bag is spacious, and its exterior is made of 100% organic cotton. It has a non-toxic coating that makes it easy to clean. 

You can also add a cooling ice pack to increase freshness.

Keep Leaf Lunch Bag are the perfect fit for:

What lunchboxes fit into the PackIt freezable lunch bag?

The most loved lunch bag has to be the PackIt freezable lunch bag. You can put the entire bag in the freezer overnight to keep food and drinks cool.

The PackIt freezable lunch bag will fit these items:

What lunchboxes fit into the PackIt Classic Freezable Lunch Bag?

The PackIt Classic lunch bag is a great size and you can put it in the freezer the night prior to keep it cool for hours.

The PackIt Classic lunch bag fits all the following:

A lunch box and lunch bag set

If you are looking for a complete set that includes a lunchbox, insulated lunch bag, and accessories, take a look at these:

  • Planetbox complete kit with a stainless-steel lunchbox, magnets for decoration, an insulated bag, and 2 leakproof containers.
  • Go green lunch box kit includes a lunchbox that is BPA- and PVC-free, a water bottle, and an insulated lunch bag.

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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

cropped Kristyna Hess Lockdown Portraits x

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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