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Blog: Every Bite Counts

Half Eaten Lunches – Mastering Back to School Lunches

Who’s excited about back-to-school lunches? We get it, as parents, we know the struggle is real! We also know how disappointing it is when those lunch boxes come home half eaten. To help prevent lunch box food waste, here are our top five tips along with ideas for what to do with food that comes back home.

  1. Engage Your Kids in the Process
    • Get your kids involved not only in packing foods they’ll actually eat (see our master list of lunch ideas) but in talking about the importance of preventing food waste, why they aren’t eating their lunch and what their ideas are. Keep the conversation positive and open. The more engaged and aware they are, the more likely you’ll see change.
  1. Eat the Most Perishable First
    • Teach kids to eat the most perishable food items first, just like how you manage your fridge at home. In lunches, this includes meats, dairy, leftovers, thermos foods and sandwiches. Crackers, granola bars, veggies, fruit, baked goods, nuts, seeds and other non-refrigerated items can wait.
  1. Pack Well
    • Keep food looking and tasting it’s best by packing cold food cold and hot food hot. This is important for food safety, food texture and overall appeal.
  1. Match Portion Size to Your Child
    • A whole sandwich, apple or milk container may simply be too much. If you’re kids are only eating a portion of their food, pack less. Repackage items into smaller containers and try canned or dried fruit instead of whole large fruits.
  1. Repurpose What Comes Home
    • Have After-school Lunch 2.0 with what’s left in the lunchbox instead of making fresh snacks.
    • Refresh chopped veggies by placing them in cold water for a few minutes to return the crunch.
    • Toss soft veggies into tonight’s dinner. See our recipe page for soups, sauces, stir fries, casseroles or egg dishes that use up leftover veggies.
    • Use uneaten fruit for smoothies, if you can’t use them right away, freeze them.
    • Make roll-ups with tortilla shells for another lunch or snack with leftover cheese, veggies or meats to
    • Turn crackers or bread into breadcrumbs or use in this tasty Apple Crumble.
    • Use pretzels, potato chips or other salty snacks in our Compost Cookies.

One final tip, RELAX and don’t make school lunches a battle. Pack what your child will eat knowing you have plenty of other meals to ensure your child gets all the food groups.