Lunches for big & small

School has begun and work is back to it’s steady pace so back in full swing is homework, early nights, drop off’s and pick ups, clean uniforms and of course a packed lunch each day. An adequate lunch for the eight year old and the city worker requires a bit of prep during the week and is always determined by seasonal and zero waste foods.

Our eight year old is a bit of a picky eater, however she doesn’t tire of the foods that she does like easily, so her school lunches are the same each day until she does eventually decide she wants a change. However, I don’t think she will ever tire of popcorn. Whoever rises first makes up first a small batch each morning, any leftovers are eaten by the toddler or set aside for after school snacking.

At the moment for her lunch she likes eating a mix of rice and quinoa (50:50 ratio cooked in vegetable stock), we cook perhaps 1-2 batches at night per week, it’s also handy to have in the fridge for Max’s lunch and last minute dinner concoctions. A piece of seasonal fruit and/or vegetables and a home-made treat are staples in her lunch-box. When we do buy lunch on the go a good option is sushi which I get made to order, left uncut and put in a cloth napkin.

Max’s to go breakfast & lunch. Top Right: breakfast :steel cut oats with flaxseed and stewed plums and rhubarb. Left: kumara and tomato. Bottom right: lentil patties with marrow chutney, avo and fermented tomato sauce.

Max’s lunch is almost always leftover dinner or concoctions from various foods in the fridge and pantry. On the days he buys lunch, usually sushi, he takes his own container, which is praised by the sushi lady who often gives him treats such as tofu pockets or kimchi. He also buys on occasion Revive, which is bought in compostable packaging (tried and failed to use own container). Another good option in the city is the Hare Krishna food stall that is active during the university semester (Wednesday 12 – 2 @ Auckland Uni, Thursday 12 – 2 @ AUT), it is only 5$ and even allows a second helping at no extra cost which is bought home to add to dinner or for my lunch the following day.

A refill to be bought home from the hare krishna food stall, even includes dessert!

Making your own waste free takeaway breakfast/lunch may take a little time but it is cheaper in most cases and it is one less thing you need to think about at work (what shall I have for lunch today?). However, for the days when you do feel like buying something opt for a food place that uses real plates and cutlery and sit down and enjoy your lunch – you deserve it! Or use your trusty reusable containers to take away.


  • Steel cut oats are available in bulk bins where I live and are great to have prepared in the fridge for breakfast. We use The Zero Waste Chef’s method of cooking steel cut oats.
  • Get your children cooking! Our eight year old is now baking her lunchbox treat. At the moment her favourite (and mine!) is banana oat chocolate cookies, which we call ‘mookies’ because their appearance and texture are a cross between a cookie and a muffin – well that’s the result we get.
  • Buy bread/rolls loose in your own cloth bag from a local bakery.
  • Keep a napkin and container in your car or bag for the unexpected.
  • I came across this great online resource from the Nelson City Council that clearly outlays the cost difference between a packaged lunch and unpackaged lunch. It’s a PDF so you can download it for your reference.
  • Kids Spot NZ also have some great tips and ideas for rubbish free lunches.

3 thoughts on “Lunches for big & small”

  1. I wish there are bulk stores near where I’m living (Italy)… all that’s package free are fresh produce and everything else is wrapped up :/


      1. Well, produce are not packaged. Everything else are like, flour, sugar, spices, milk, etc. Like, if I buy a bag of flour from the grocery store, there’s not much of a difference because I’m still buying it in packages :/


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