Summer is coming to an end and the school year is quickly arriving. That means that whether you have a new kindergartner or a teen entering their last year of high school, home packed lunches are important! Not only does packing lunch save you and your family money, but it can also ensure your kids are getting a balanced and healthy meal. Years ago home lunches were simply a sandwich, fruit and maybe a soda if you were lucky. These items were minimally packaged and often were packed in a brown paper bag or metal lunch pail. Now-a-days parents often pack lunches using disposable bags, food wrapping, or pre-packaged items. While this does make packing lunches very easy and convenient it means we are throwing away more plastic than we really need to equating to throwing away money.
While you don’t have to go completely zero-waste in order to save a little bit of money, making a few minor changes can save the planet and your pocket. Below you’ll find a table that illustrates the cost comparison between a “disposable” lunch and a “low/zero waste” lunch.
|A Disposable Lunch (prepackaged)||A Waste-Free Lunch (in reusable containers)|
|1 egg salad sandwich||$1.25||1 egg salad sandwich||$1.25|
|1 yogurt||$0.85||1 serving of yogurt||$0.50|
|1 granola bar||$0.45||1 serving of granola||$0.35|
|1 apple||$0.30||1 apple||$0.30|
|1 package of carrots and dip||$0.65||1 serving of carrots and dip||$0.25|
|3 plastic bags||$0.12||water||$0.00|
|1 juice pouch||$0.35||cloth napkin||$0.00|
|1 plastic spoon||$0.04||stainless steel spoon||$0.00|
|1 paper napkin||$0.01||packaging||$0.00|
|Disposable Lunch||Waste-Free Lunch|
|$4.02 / day||$2.65 / day|
|$20.10 / week||$13.25 / week|
|$723.60 / school year||$477.00 / school year|
Simply by changing a few packaging options and planning, you could save yourself a minimum of $200 dollars per year! Instead of purchasing prepackaged fruit and veggie packs, set aside an hour or two once a week to chop and slice fruits and veggies for the week’s meals. You can also save money by reducing your kids options for lunches. Many companies now make reusable food wrappers and snack bags, you can find them on sites like Etsy or Amazon. Opt for wrappers and bags made from cloth for extra planet saving points. Make your own from tutorials found on Pinterest. If you don’t have the funds to purchase these wrappers and bags you can simply use old glass jars and Tupperware until you are able to invest in one. We also suggest purchasing durable and eco-friendly lunch bags such as these. Don’t forget you don’t have to spend a fortune to start saving the world, do what you can, research and use what you have.