Low waste lunch ideas

IMG_9451If there’s one thing I’ve learned about going low/zero waste, it’s that it’s a pretty big time commitment. My work isn’t too far from some pretty great food…but all of that food creates countless bits of trash. So I have to make my food every day before going to work…which means waking up earlier (yuck)–but that’s an entirely different subject. While I’m not perfect, I’ve come up with a few different options that I like to use for my work meals.

Anybody who knows me will tell you I love food. I don’t think I’m ever not hungry. Thus, Christy needs lots and lots of snacks. My first few months at my new job, I made the mistake of going unprepared, so I often found myself in the break room staring at all the options…from bottled soda to chips to chocolate.


And on the days when I couldn’t get myself out of bed to make my meals, I either chose a salad in a plastic container from the break room or carry-out food littered with plastic utensils, foiled packaging and stacks of paper napkins.

But with a little bit of coffee in my system, I’ve been able to wake myself up sooner and make some food. Here are some things I find simple and filling to bring to work:


  1. To-Go Ware – This reusable bamboo utensil set reduces the need for one-time-use plastic ware
  2. Soup – I like to use ingredients from the bulk bin: this week’s is 10 bean soup
  3. Nuts – Nuts are super filling; I like milk chocolate-covered almonds and salted peanuts
  4. Celery & PB – I love celery, I love peanut butter…what else is there to say?
  5. Sandwich – I eat gluten free bread, which comes in packaging unfortunately
  6. Granola  – cherry vanilla from the bulk bin at Sprouts is my fave; I sometimes bring milk in a small glass jar to go with
  7. Banana Chips – I prefer the sweetened ones from the bulk bin at Whole Foods
  8. Salad – I separate the toppings and dressing until I’m ready to eat, then I shake them up in the container
  9. Apple – They’re my favorite fruit, and they’re super filling
  10. Soda – This is why I have to call this low waste…I have a terrible soda addiction. But I do take the empty cans home with me and recycle them!

Now obviously there’s an abundance of plastic containers in this photo, but part of going zero waste is using what you already have. I’ll use these things until they fall apart, and then I’ll make the switch to stainless steel!

Buying your ingredients from the bulk bins drastically reduces the amount of waste you produce. Dried foods like beans, pasta and spices can make filling dishes. Bulk sections usually have a variety of snack foods as well. My personal favorites come from Sprouts; I just find there’s more to choose from there.

If you’re like me and have food allergies that prevent you from buying all your ingredients package-free, don’t sweat it! Just do what you can.

Those are my suggestions. What’s your favorite zero waste meal to take to work?

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