Zero Waste Lunchbox Ideas


I must admit we've been living in a bit of a glorious, naive bubble when it comes to school lunches. We've been blessed to have our children both attend Kanuka Corner here in Hawea where the kids are spoilt with a daily nutritious, healthy and mostly homegrown fresh lunch each day. Our bubble of having to do nothing about the kids lunches is about to burst as of this week as my oldest boy starts school.

I have been saving recipes I see on the web as well as continually writing down any ideas I have on how I'm going to easily be able to conquer the challenge of a zero waste, healthy, nutritious lunchbox. I thought the ideas and list I have for us might be useful for some others out there battling the same challenge so below you'll find lots of zero waste, refined sugar free, mostly d/f and healthy lunchbox ideas. They might come in handy now as school goes back or just when you feel like you’re in a lunchbox funk throughout the school year.

Just to note a lot of recipes have nuts in them which if your school has a no nut policy you can sub with seeds or a non nut alternative - most of the recommended recipes will list these substitutes. The recipes that we have included links to are some of our tried and true favourites which we know are a hit with our kids and typically all of them a super simple and hard to muck up - because we need both of those things.

Zero Waste Lunch Box Ideas
Roasted Veggies - Leftover Kumera, Potatoes, Carrots, Broccoli or Cauliflower.


Seed Crackers our recipe for these are here and you could add some avocado, chickpea hummus, peanut butter or just butter to have on top or spread them before they leave for school.

Banana GF/DF Pancakes - Just mix up 1 Mashed Banana, 1 Egg 1 and tablespoon of Almond Meal or other flour.

Cut up Fruit


Veggie Sticks - Carrot sticks, celery sticks, raw broccoli or cauliflower chunks.

Kale Chips - My kids love these but I think its just the added salt and crunch that they love the most.

Sandwiches or Rolls filled with greens, leftover cold meat, pickles, tomato.

Veggie Fritters - Our favourite tried and true recipe is here and we tend to just switch up the veggies for what we have on hand plus add nutritional yeast (nutritional yeast is key!). At the moment its definitely all about zucchini and carrots because of the mass amounts in our garden at this time of year but you can literally sub the veggies for any you have on hand.

Potato/Kumara Hash Fritters - Just grate up potatoes or kumara and then squeeze the water out of them. Cook on a pan with come coconut oil and shape into little fritters. 

Homemade Muesli Bars - A couple of our favourite recipes are the Holistic Nutritionists Seed Slice, this recipe for peanut butter muesli bars or you can just use a base of oats, seeds and then rice malt syrup/maple syrup or honey as a sweetener all mixed together and chilled in the fridge to bind. One tip is for any of these push as hard as you can down into your tin so that they set nice and hard and bind better.

Sushi with no seaweed or wrapped in lettuce leaves.

Banana & Berry Smoothies - 1 large banana, handful of berries or fruit of choice, ice and water then blended together.

Chickpea Wraps cut into wedges with avocado or hummus.

Muffins - Our go to recipes for muffins are these Peanut Butter Banana muffins we have just discovered or we always tend to go back to JS Healths Banana, Date and Walnut Muffins too which are always bound to be a fail-safe winner.

Florentine Biscuits - Our sister in-law made a recipe of these in her thermo-mix which my kids loved but this one here is vey similar not requiring a thermo-mix. 

Our Healthy Leftover Fruit Crumble is a great one to make at the start of the week and just keep in the fridge for school lunchboxes. You could pop a bit of yoghurt in with it or just plain.

We will continually be updating our ideas when we try out new recipes which are a success and our kids love them too so keep checking back if you want new ideas. Good-luck with your zero waste lunchboxes and we'd love you to share any new ideas or recipes below if you have them on hand! Happy back to school!


  • Awesome ideas thank you! No haven’t tried the GF Bread Mix but will add it to our to try list. Thank you!

    Honest Wholefood Co.
  • This is very helpful thank you! We do a lot of chia puddings & frozen green smoothies & seed based bliss balls in our pre schoolers lunch box. (I love that your dates are nice & soft). Muffins (freeze well), & have you tried the GF OMG bread mix? It’s great!


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