· By Julia Boase
What is “Nude” Food ? My Top Tips for Waste Free Lunch Boxes
If you’ve got a child at either kindy or school in Australia, then I’m pretty sure that at some point you would have received a flyer requesting for more nude food to go to school, or promoting a nude food day/week or challenge. It’s a concept that’s taken off and with good reason.
“Nude Food” is really just a fun play on litter free lunches (and incidentally why we named our company Nudie Rudie Lunch Box, in case you’re wondering). It’s been estimated that the average school aged child creates about 3 pieces of litter from their lunch box each school day. That equates to around 30kg of waste per child, per year at school. Wow! We all know that we need to be sending less waste to landfill. Using the concepts of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle you can send a litter free lunch to school. Litter free lunches should have no disposable wrappers or single use items like cutlery, plastic straws, juice or milk poppers or wrappers such as cling wrap, foil or zip lock bags.
And there are other benefits of litter free lunches too. With my dietitian’s hat on, I can tell you that you’re more likely to have a healthier lunch if it contains more nude food. Fruits and vegetables are wrapper free and should always take up some space in your child’s lunch box. Taking the time on the weekends to batch bake snacks and freeze them, will also ensure you have more wrapper free options to pack. If you need some inspiration I’ve linked some of our customer's most favourite recipes below.
The last thing I’d ever want to do is place more guilt on parents - I know our shoulders already strain with a heavy burden. There are absolutely going to be those days when you just need to reach for a store bought snack (I totally get that and that’s also why we have a free PDF of our top dietitian’s approved supermarket snacks for kids available when you subscribe to our newsletter). This is where I like to narrow in on the concept of “reduce”. Personally I think if we can just focus on doing our best to send litter free lunches most of the time, then we can totally give ourselves a break on those occasions that we do need to send a packaged snack (and read on for packaged snack ideas that are low on waste).
My Top Ideas for a Waste Free Lunch
1. Invest in a Bento Style Lunch Box
Seriously, there is no better way to reduce wrappers than by using a bento style lunch box. There are plenty of bento style lunch boxes now available on the market. Before you invest consider what you like to pack each day and make sure your lunch box can accomodate that. In my mind a box that is leak free is a must, as it gives you flexibility around what you can send (no one wants soggy crackers because there was orange packed next to it). You also want something that’s durable - our lunch box is built to last. I’ve probably done myself a disservice, but you’re more likely to be handing it down to your nephew than binning it, because it’s that durable.
There’s no plastic used in the manufacturing of our lunch box, which is another tick for the environment and stainless steel is 100% recyclable.
2. Look for snacks that come in a bulk buy option
I’m certain that as the nude food movement increases in popularity we’ll see more of our children’s favourite snacks available as a bulk buy. Until then, here’s some you can buy now:
- Pretzels (look for lower sodium options)
- Dry cereal (varieties like weet-bix bites and cheerios that are iron fortified and high in fibre get my tick)
- Dried fruit (eg sultanas, apple, apricots)
- Crackers - I like Vita Wheat multigrain crackers or Sakata wholegrain varieties
- Rainsin Toast
- Cut slices of cheese from a block rather than cheese sticks
- Bulk buy trail mixes or make your own
- Check out what’s on offer in the bulk buy bins at your local supermarket and take your own container or biobag and you can avoid packaging all together
3. Bake your Own Snacks
I know we’re all time poor but baking your own snacks is a big tick for both litter free lunches and more nutritious options. My own personal rule is to try and maximise any time I do spend in the kitchen. This means if I’m going to make a mess then it needs to be worthwhile. Usually I’ll prep 2-3 snacks for the freezer in one hit. Yes it’s a lot of work, but then it’s DONE and most baked goods will last 3 months in the freezer (like a whole school term!).
Here are some of the recipes that you’ve told us are your favourites:
3. Ditch the pop tops and milk cartons
Again, I know they’re convenient, but there is another way. Our range of stainless steel insulated bottles will keep your smoothies, milk drinks or juice cold for the whole school day.
We recommend blending your smoothies and milk drinks with ice to keep them icy cold for as long as possible. Low sugar Milo and simple smoothies like my Boosted Green Banana have been winners in my house.
4. For-go cling wrap
If you buy a quality leak proof bento-style box you simply WILL NOT need cling wrap. Most people use cling wrap to stop food touching and making everything soggy. No need for that with our bento box. Our largest compartment is just the right size to hold all your sandwich or roll fillings too. If you really do think you need something to hold it altogether, a reusable bee’s wax wrap will probably do the trick.
5. Switch out disposables like straws and cutlery
We stock a range of cute reusable silicone travel straws. They team perfectly with our stainless steel bottles, and they also come in a handy carry case so you can keep any messy residue out of your school bag and simply bring it home to wash and reuse.
6. Don’t forget to manage your waste
Most likely your child will come home with at least a few bits and pieces uneaten in their lunch box. Where possible try and reuse items for afternoon tea, and if that’s not possible then remember to put them in the green waste. If fruit is looking a bit bruised and battered, chop it up and freeze it to use in smoothies.
So there you go - I hope that’s given you a few ideas to help you up your game when it comes to sending more nude food to school!