Reducing Lunch Break Waste

Is this a familiar scene for you? A quick frozen lunch at your desk while you catch up on the news or award show fashions. It's convenient, but it's wasteful.

I admit, for the steps I take to be both healthy and less wasteful, this is one area where I sometimes fall short. When I'm lazy, cheap or out of food at home, I fall back on frozen lunches in plastic trays, with plastic films, in cardboard boxes. Or cans of soup. Although the plastic trays are recyclable, let's work on being completely reusable!

So, if you're looking to reduce your waste at your desk for lunch time, there are a few easy ways to do it:


When you cook dinner, purposely cook extra so you have leftovers for lunch. Adjust the recipe so you can make a bigger dish. "Box up" the leftovers in smaller reusable containers instead of one larger one, so in the morning you can grab and go. I tend to cook during the week and enjoy leftovers a couple times, and I keep some lunch food on hand for my fiance as well (usually lunch meat and lettuce). However, the turkey comes in a plastic zip lock bag and the lettuce is wrapped in plastic. Shame on me!

Try to stay away from prepackaged foods. Tip for me AND you: If you're heading to the deli, bring your own container, such as for the salad bar or deli meat counter. Just weigh your container first so you know how much to subtract from the food weight. (A tip I read once: Write the container's weight on a piece of tape and stick it on the lid or the outside, so you and the cashier can easily see it.)

When you're grocery shopping, don't buy individually packaged snacks - buy the larger box and divide the portions up yourself. (Dig into the archives for a dedicated blog post on this!)


Many offices are stocked with disposable cutlery and dishes, since there's no one person in charge of keeping dishes clean. Unfortunately. However, that doesn't mean you have to use them! Bring your own reusable dinnerware. I keep two coffee mugs (one regular size, one giganto), a plate, a bowl, a big mug, and a fork and spoon at my desk, along with a towel I use for drying (then bring home to throw in the wash). That way, when I heat up leftovers for lunch, I don't have to use anything disposable in the process!
The key is planning ahead, and that's what I'm working to achieve more as I work to be less wasteful. It might be easy to grab a frozen lunch when the fridge is looking sparse...but with some planning, I can have leftovers or a simple lunch ready to go in the morning.

So, let's work on this one together! Easy, quick, workday lunches without a pile of trash!

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