How to Pack a Health School Box Lunch + 5 Days of Vegetarian Menus + The Perfect Lunch Box

Eben has always wanted to take his lunch to school. I have asked him before if you would like to eat school lunch and he looks at me as if I am a tad crazy and says, “I am a take my lunch kid.” So, that is that, he takes his lunch to school. I am glad that he wants to because the mister and I can influence what he has for lunch and since he leaves everything in the lunch box that he doesn’t eat, I can keep track of that too. However, the tricky part is making lunches that are delicious, nutritious and hot. It is cold here in Colorado! Another challenge we faced was finding a lunch box that is easy to use, will accommodate a thermos and is good on the environment.

We checked out several lunch boxes and decided on a laptop lunch box system. First, we love the design and that the lunch box is Earth friendly. It is a large lunch box with five smaller containers inside (1 large with a lid, 1 large without a lid, 2 medium without lids and 1 smaller one with lid). It also comes with a fork, spoon and a bottle for a drink. You can also purchase an insulted bag to hold the laptop lunch, I would highly recommend purchasing this. It is insulted and has a pocket for a napkin and another zipper pouch that is perfect to hold an ice pack. It also has an adjustable strap so it can be worn like a messenger bag. (Which Eben loves because any chance he has to be like Indiana Jones is a bonus.)

The best part of the system is everything is BPA free and easy to use and clean. It however does not have anyway to hold hot foods and is not big enough to accommodate a thermos. Our solution was to purchase a stainless steel thermos. Then, we found a local artisan who creates handmade thermos cozies that we were able to attach to Eben’s lunchbox with a clip. It has worked out really well and has allowed Eben to have a combination of hot and cold items for lunch everyday.

Now comes the really tricky part, how to pack a healthy lunch that your kids will actually eat. When packing Eben’s lunch each morning, the mister and I always choose at least one item from the following categories: protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, calcium, and a healthy fat. This way he has a good selection and will have a well balanced meal that will gives him the energy that he needs to stay focused through the latter part of the school day. Try to choose at least one item from each category, read on to get started.

1. Protein:

  • organic almond, soy or peanut butter
  • organic cheese
  • organic hummus
  • organic beans
  • organic edamame
  • organic tofu
  • organic nuts
  • organic seeds
  • organic hard boiled egg (not vegetarian)
  • organic wild caught tuna or salmon (not vegetarian)
  • organic sustainable seafood, cage free chicken, or grass fed beef (not vegetarian)
  • organic tempeh

2. Whole Grains:

  • organic whole grain sandwich bread, pita, crackers or tortilla
  • organic whole grain pasta, couscous, quinoa or brown rice
  • organic granola
  • organic corn

3. Vegetables:

  • organic carrots
  • organic olives
  • organic celery
  • organic green beans
  • organic peas
  • irganic cucumber
  • organic eggplant
  • organic potato
  • organic sweet potato
  • organic cabbage
  • organic tomato
  • organic squash
  • organic coleslaw

4. Fruits:

  • organic apple
  • organic banana
  • organic strawberries
  • organic peach
  • organic plum
  • organic grapes
  • organic watermelon
  • organic cantaloupe
  • organic apricot
  • organic orange
  • organic mango
  • organci kiwi
  • organic nectarine
  • organic raspberries

5. Calcium:

  • organic cheese
  • organic yogurt
  • organci tofu
  • organic almonds or almond butter
  • organic beans
  • organic hummus
  • organic milk or fortified soy, rice or almond milk
  • organic fortified orange juice

6. Healthy Fats:

  • organic almonds or almond butter
  • organic avocado
  • organic extra virgin oil olive
  • organic flax seed or oil
  • orghanic olives

Here is a week’s worth of meal plans that Eben really enjoys, these may help you get started or you can add them to your already great kids lunch box meal plans.

Day 1

  • 6 organic homemade vegetable nuggets
  • 1/2 cup organic homemade coleclaw
  • 1/2 organic plum
  • 1/2 cup organic vanilla yogurt
  • 100% organic homemade vegetable juice

Day 2

  • organic bean, cheese and hot sauce burrito
  • organic carrots with hummus
  • organic cherries and grapes
  • 1/2 cup organic vanilla yogurt
  • organic milk or 100% organic homemade vegetable juice

Day 3

  • organic homemade cheese raviolis
  • 3 organic whole grain crackers
  • organic carrots with hummus
  • 1/2 cup organic strawberries
  • 100% organic homemade vegetable juice

Day 4

  • organic homemade minestrone soup 
  • 3 organic whole grain crackers
  • 1/2 cup organic olives
  • 1 organic fresh peach
  • organic cucumbers with organic strawberry vinegrette
  • organic milk

Day 5

  • organic whole grain Udon noodles, diced carrots with creamy garlic sauce
  • organic edamame
  • handful of organic almonds
  • organic cheese stick
  • 100% organic homemade vegetable juice
There are many other meal plans available, you can make sandwiches such as almond or peanut butter with 100% fruit spread. Another huge hit at our house is pizza, the mister will make a few homemade organic whole grain vegetarian pizzas from scratch on the weekends and then freeze them for later in the week.

What are your children’s favorite lunch box meals?

3 Tips To Maintain Sustainability When The Temperature Drops

Maintaining sustainability is much harder when the temperatures get colder. The colder you are, the more demand there is for your home heating system. In summer, you can keep your heating turned off for months on end. But, when the temperature dips close to freezing, your house can get very cold. Some people are forced to keep their heating on all day long, ramping up the energy costs. 

This isn’t a very sustainable way to live as you use up far too much energy. You don’t need me to remind you of the impact this has on the environment. In that case, what can you do to maintain sustainability was the days get colder?

Insulate your home

Begin by insulating your home and making it cold-proof. Check the insulation in your attic to see if it needs to be renewed – or possibly add some more layers of protection. Look at every single window in your house to be sure there are no gaps in the seals. Similarly, buy some thick curtains to cover your windows, adding further insulation. You want to create a house that leaks as little heat as possible. It’s impossible to trap all of the heat inside your home. Still, some good insulation tactics will undoubtedly reduce the amount you lose. As a result, your house will feel warmer without the heating on. If you do still need it on, you can keep it on for fewer hours and at a lower temperature. 

Protect your home from snow

Snowy weather is super bad for sustainable families. If snow falls on your home, it will instantly make it colder. The longer it lingers, the colder your house will be. So, protect your home from snow as best as you can. One idea is to sprinkle salt and grit on your roof, stopping snow from settling on the tiles. Find a good snow removal service in your local area to call upon if there’s any snow. They’ll get rid of it from around your house, stopping your home from becoming too cold. Again, this decreases the demand for your home heating system, allowing it to run more efficiently. 

Take advantage of your oven

This last tip is one of my favorites as it works brilliantly. Leave your oven open after cooking. Why? Because it will release heat out into your home, warming it up. It basically acts as a mini heating system, without the need to turn your actual system on. All ovens will emit some heat for a few minutes after cooking. This is all it takes to heat up a few rooms in your house – especially when it’s correctly insulated. As your oven is already turned on, it makes sense to take advantage of this to heat up your home. 

These three tips will help you maintain sustainability and efficiency in the cold months. It stops you from keeping your heating on for too long, lowering the energy usage in your home. The best thing is, none of these tips is that extreme. You don’t have to make any crazy changes to your life throughout fall or winter – it’s just about being a bit smarter!

3 Smart Ideas For Creating An Eco-Friendly Halloween Costume

It’s no secret that many people who celebrate Halloween do so by getting together with friends and getting into the spirit of the spooky season. For many of those who celebrate, creating a unique costume that showcases your individuality is the biggest appeal of the holiday altogether. But instead of heading to the nearest chain store to spend money on an overpriced costume made of cheap and wasteful materials, consider taking some extra measures to ensure sustainability while maintaining creativity makes all the difference in your costume’s environmental impact. Here are just a few ways to keep Mother Nature in mind while preparing your Halloween costume.

Skip The Synthetics
One eco-friendly rule of thumb when shopping for Halloween costumes at big box stores is to look at the labels and do your best to avoid synthetic and toxic materials.

“Halloween costumes are supposed to be fun-scary, not scary-scary. Yet, store-bought costumes are often made up of nonrecyclable petro-chemical based plastic and synthetic fibers,” writes Laura Bailey on “Those Halloween costumes can include one of the scariest plastics — polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a soft plastic and known carcinogen that releases harmful toxins in its creation and breakdown.”

Instead, look for costumes with natural materials and fabrics if you’re shopping at a big box store. Better yet, you should consider looking into small businesses that may specialize in eco-friendly products. There are currently around 27.9 million small businesses in the United States, and many shoppers may be surprised at the number of eco-friendly products both small and large businesses are now incorporating into their inventory. Don’t hesitate to take up your inquiry with a store employee, as well.

Consider A DIY Project
If you consider yourself to be the crafty type, you can easily purchase some organic or otherwise eco-friendly materials and create your own costume. Sales of organic non-food products in the U.S. were up 8.8% in 2016, meaning there are more options than ever as far as styles, colors, and materials. If you have the resources, you can make a DIY version of any costume you find in a big box store, and you may even spend less doing it!

Incorporate Recyclable Elements
Finally, whether you buy your costume from a store or make it yourself, try to incorporate some reusable or recyclable materials. About 60% of the U.S. population, or about 148 million people, have access to a plastics recycling program. Similarly, if you have any young kids who may be participating in trick or treating festivities, be conscious about the bag or container they’re using to stash their sweet treats.

“Avoid the ubiquitous bright orange plastic jack-o-lanterns that have no chance at ever breaking down in a landfill. Instead use reusable shopping bags, canvas totes or the ole pillowcase trick. A funky thriftshop handbag can add a fun twist to a green Halloween costume as well,” writes Bailey.

Ultimately, it doesn’t take much to make a few small changes toward sustainability. By keeping an eye out for reusable and organic materials, you and your family can enjoy all the traditional festivities of Halloween while doing your part to preserve the Earth’s resources.

Designing & Keeping An Eco-Friendly Garden

If you love to garden, chances are you also love the environment, and you want to do everything in your power to keep it safe and protected. The fact is that there are ways of gardening which are not quite so good for the planet, and there are ways which are much more eco-friendly. In this post, we are going to take a look at how you can design and keep a garden that is much more eco-friendly, and so feel safe knowing that you have done your part in looking after the planet a little better.

Safe Pest Control

It’s perfectly okay to want to manage what animals and insects come into your garden. This can be important for keeping your plants alive, keeping your family safe and ensuring that your pets don’t get into any trouble. But you should make sure that any methods you are using are perfectly ecological and safe, and this is not always the case when it comes to pest control. One of the simplest and most elegant solutions is to ensure you have a well-manicured hedge around your garden, as this will stop most animals from getting into your garden in the first place. With good hedge maintenance, you can keep this barrier up and safely keep pests out without disturbing nature.

Native Plants

There is much talk of native plants in gardening, and with good reason. When you are deciding what plants you should have in your garden, it is often going to be necessary to include native ones wherever possible, as these are so much better for the ecology of the local area. Native plants are simply those that would grow naturally wherever you are in the world. Including only these in your garden will mean that you are helping to boost the ecosystem so much more, and not doing anything to harm it. It’s a simple yet powerful step that every keen gardener can take, and one which you can do today.

Water Conservation

One of the main resources that you use in gardening is water – if not the number one resource of all. If you are keen to ensure that your garden is not harming the planet, you should be careful about how you use water. You don’t want to be using any more than necessary, after all. With that in mind, make sure you know exactly how much or how little water each plant in your garden needs. Overwatering is often going to be simply a waste, and could mean that your plants die out anyway. You should also consider collecting rainwater in a butt and using that rather than tap water wherever possible. This is also going to be healthier for the plants, so it’s a win-win. Conserve water wherever possible if you really want to be eco-friendly in the garden.

These simple changes are going to add up to make a huge difference over time, so make sure that you are taking them on board as soon as possible.

How to Green Your Laundry Suds

Buying an eco-friendly, plant-based laundry detergent is definitely the way to go. To make your money go further, buy detergent in the largest container possible, and only use 1/2 of the recommended amount. I have found that using 1/2 the amount gets clothes just as clean and if I am dealing with stains, I pre-treat the stain with a diluted eco-friendly detergent or if it is a greasy stain, an eco-friendly dish soap then I wash it with my favorite detergent, Biokleen

Do you use eco-friendly detergents? What brand do you love?


Photo Courtesy of Palinkas Tamara