By Cathy Monaghan MSc, H.Dip, RD.

Starting school or returning to school is an expensive time of year. This year is more expensive than ever.

Apart from the financial waste of uneaten lunch boxes, environmentally they are a total waste too.

I am here to help you limit school lunch waste! Apart from 20 years professional experience in paediatric nutrition I’ve also been filling lunch boxes for over a decade!

Here I will share what I do to reduce food waste in school lunches.

  1. I only include fruit that might make a few trips to school. Banana, pear or fresh berries will go to mush pretty easily so they will never make more than one trip to school. They end up straight in the bin. A mandarin on the other hand will last a few trips. If it is uneaten one day just pop it back in again the next day. It is providing colour and keeping familiarity so it is still serving a purpose!

  2. For a drink, keep it very simple and cheap and stick to water.

  3. I include things I know will be eaten. Tray bakes are popular in our house and I stock up the freezer with various tray bakes cut into squares. Made with eggs, flour, dried fruit and seeds, they can tick a lot of boxes in one go. I add these to the lunchbox still frozen and they are defrosted by the time lunch time comes. They are never uneaten.

  4. Things like ham, cheese, hummus can be hit and miss so a plain sandwich/ wrap is fine – an eaten plain sandwich is better than an uneaten gourmet one! Remember lunch is only one meal – there can lots of other opportunities to eat at home!

  5. Yoghurt is often uneaten if it has gone warm. If I do include it, it is straight from the freezer so that it is still cold by the time they eat it.

a simple ez school lunch

Next learn the 5 main reasons why your child doesn’t eat their school lunch.

Sign up for my Toddler Masterclass and you will learn all about the food groups and portions that your Toddler needs to Thrive!

How do you limit school lunch waste?

Weaning.ie and Wonderbaba School Lunch Podcast!

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