It has been estimated that an average of 67 pounds of waste is generated per school year by a child bringing lunch to school, according to Waste Free That equals 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for only one average sized elementary school.

My daughters bring their lunch to school almost every day so I’m very mindful about what I pack to ensure their lunches are healthy and waste-free. Here are 5 easy tips for packing waste-free lunches that have really worked for me.

  1. Pack food that has its own container. For example, apples, oranges, grapes, cherries, bananas and other fruits can be packed without an additional container and peeled at school. Some schools even have composting programs for food waste so that even the banana peels can be “recycled.”

  2. Invest in a good quality reusable lunch box. When shopping for a reusable lunch box, be sure it’s size appropriate for your child. A good lunch bag will last for years.

  3. Think reusable for utensils, containers, napkins, etc. Pack stainless-steel forks and spoons, cloth napkins, reusable containers and reusable drink containers. Your kids will get used to packing those items back in their lunch bag when their done eating to bring them home.

  4. Ask your child to bring home their lunch leftovers. This is a great way to discover what is and is not working in your kiddo’s lunch. Asking questions about why the foods weren’t eaten will help you in packing future lunches. Was there too much food in her lunch? Did she not like the food in question? Did she share someone else’s lunch? Make a list of the foods your children are eating and update it regularly.

  5. Have your children help shop for and pack their lunches. I’ve found when I include my girls in the process they are more likely to eat the lunches that they help prepare. Not only is this a great life skill, it ensures that their lunches are waste-free.

For more tips for packing a waste-free lunch, check out How to Pack a Waste-Free Lunch For Your Kids at .