Cooking · Miscellaneous

DIY Sustainable Lunch Kit

SAN MARINO

Yes, we’ll be talking about mason jars. But let’s start at the beginning. I’m not sure at this point that we can realistically hope to eradicate plastic from our homes, unless we have some intense societal shift – it’s in everything. It’s hard to buy toiletries without it, food is packaged in it (even paperboard boxes sometimes have a plastic coating) and it’s in all our stuff – god forbid we make furniture or games or you name it without some cheap injection molded plastic component.

The point is, it’s hard to go plastic-free. But I get really bothered by it a lot, and motivated to stem the unwanted tide of plastic stuff that at least comes into the kitchen, and thus, in contact with our food. Because as we strive to eat more foods that haven’t been laced with pesticides and herbicides, that almost doesn’t matter if we microwave them in a flimsy plastic container. And we just have to start somewhere and stick with it, and pick ourselves up when we fail at it – and keep at it some more.

So I’m starting with my lunch kit. And because I want to be honest with you, I will admit my lunch kit has fallen far. I’ll just put it out there right now that it’s currently a round plastic Ziploc container in a gallon Ziploc bag. Sometimes I also use the pint Ziploc baggies for side items too. And I feel bad about that lunch every single day. Most of my meals are home made, made with a minimum of processed foods, and organic where ever we can afford it – and it gets chucked into plastic within plastic like I don’t care at all.

And here’s all of the “reasons” why I’ve been using plastic for the better part of a year –

  • I have a four hour round trip commute so I need sturdy stuff that won’t break.
  • I need something microwave friendly since I have to use a microwave at the office if I want hot lunch.
  • I’m lazy (yep, sometimes after working/commuting close to 60 hours per week, I’m lazy).
  • I don’t have a lot of money to buy new, fancy eco-branded stuff.
  • I don’t know which new, fancy eco-branded stuff is worth the money and will work for my needs.

And now here’s all of the solutions to those “reasons” –

  • I have a four hour round trip commute so I need sturdy stuff that won’t break.
    • And? Get an insulated lunch bag. Take care with the backpack. Problem solved.
  • I need something microwave friendly since I have to use a microwave at the office if I want hot lunch.
    • Glass is microwaveable. Or I could commit to using my Lunch Crock more (while it is made of plastic, the insert that touches the food is metal – and it’s not a disposable product).
  • I’m lazy (yep, sometimes after working/commuting close to 60 hours per week, I’m lazy).
    • Obviously stop being lazy on this. It’s a one time effort to figure out a solution.
  • I don’t have a lot of money to buy new, fancy eco-branded stuff.
    • Don’t buy it then – use what you have (more on that below).
  • I don’t know which new, fancy eco-branded stuff is worth the money and will work for my needs.
    • Same – don’t worry about it – use what you have.

I have an abundance of mason jars, so obviously that’s the plan. And I’m not the first person to think about this – it is now trendy and on point to put every possible thing into a mason jar. Look what happens when you Google “mason jar lunch kit” –

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It’s a thing now. Obviously, wide mouth jars are the best for lunches since it’s easier to get food out of them. Depending upon the type of food I have for lunch, I’ll rotate between three basic jars –

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The Ball wide mouth jar is good for most basics – pasta, salad (which I should eat more of), and a pair of them would work for a separate main dish and side.

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The pint-and-a-half jar is great for when I just want a slightly larger portion size.

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For soups and stews, the squat Elite collection pint jar is perfect, because it’s almost like a bowl or cup-a-soup.

Because mason jars are trendy big business these days, there are all kinds of add-ons you can buy for them to turn your mason jar into other things – sippy lids to make them hot cups, little dressing cup inserts for your salad in a jar, things like that – but they’re mostly plastic. So to combat that, I have one other jar in my arsenal –

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The 4 ounce jelly jar is perfect for things like salad dressing, gravy or condiments.

Now, to keep all of this stuff from breaking while in transit – cozies and an insulated bag are in order. I’m going to order this bag pattern from A Tiny Forest on Etsy and sew my own –

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And I’ll probably add in some crocheted sleeves to each individual jar for a little extra protection, even though the bag is lined with fleece and has individual pockets for each jar.

I already keep real silverware at the office, and I have a Lifefactory glass water bottle

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So when I sew my lunch bag, I’ll also sew up a set of cloth napkins too, and perhaps I’ll sew up a set of reusable oilcloth baggies as well, like the easy Reusable Snack Bag pattern on DIY Mommy. Really, was that so hard? Not at all – sometimes we just need to take one small thing in our lives, and say “I’m going to make this better”. Maybe we can’t solve all of our problems, or change the world overnight, but we can all start with one small thing. And think of that – if everyone did that, and did it again… it could be a very good thing indeed.

 

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