Zero Waste Work Lunches: Or, How to Beat the Snack Bar


I don’t know about you, but I think about food a lot.  Some people classify my type as a grazer, but I think my eating habits are more on par with industrial factory feedlots.  And every work place seems to have the vending machine room, the cafeteria or in my case, the snack bar.

So my whole work day is really just an eternal battle of me versus the KitKat.  Keeping me away from Hershey products is the only reason I actually pack a lunch.  Here’s how I try to make it Zero Waste.

The first layer of armor is my morning smoothie.  I use some kale or spinach, dark berries, a banana, some oatmeal, some bulk protein powder and straight cranberry juice… some mostly  Zero Waste stuff in there to keep me full and fight off UTIs.

After that I use the time-old tactic of using caffeine as an appetite suppressor.  At least two trips to the coffee machine with my ceramic mug, not the Styrofoam cups I keep trying to hide from everyone in the office.

When I can’t put off eating any longer, I pull out the dried fruit and nuts, both available in bulk.

In the middle of the shift, it’s time for the sandwich.


Today it’s turkey and cheese, mildly Zero Waste, but usually it’s bulk peanut butter and homemade jelly.  The bread is not, I will admit, Zero Waste.  I’m still working on that one.

I don’t have a cute Bento or two-tiered stainless steel lunch box.  In fact, none of my containers are sexy, but they are functional.  I don’t have any reusable sandwich bags that are so popular now but it’s only because I had all this stuff lying around my kitchen already.  There is totally a place for plastic baggie replacements in today’s world.  But my glass container is hard and keeps my sandwich from getting smooched, and more importantly, is paid for.

After the carbs are consumed, I wait for the sugar crash, and answer that with fruit and maybe a veggie.

And maybe some bulk crackers too.

Look closely for my secret weapon.

Oh, but soon it’s two or three in the afternoon.  And nothing sounds better than a one-dollar Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (or two) in the early afternoon.  So everyday, hidden among the dried fruit and nuts, I pack, and I do mean ‘pack’ like you would an assault rifle, some version of bulk dark chocolate.

For liquids I bring my water bottle and for a napkin I usually grab one of my hankerchiefs I had made from my girls’ old baby swaddles, to keep the nasties off my grown-up clothes.

And since I’m clearly still a seven-year-old girl with my P B and J, here are some links from people that are doing lunch way better than I am:

Trash is For Tossers

Zero Waste Chef

Oh, and of course, don’t forget to bring home your scraps and compost.  And then dive into that dark chocolate you have waiting for you.

April 14, 2015

About Me

About Me

I’ve been passionate about combatting blind consumerism since 2008 and joined the Zero Waste movement by starting this blog in 2013, soon after my second child was born. I think it might have been trying to unwrap a toy or someone’s attempt to sell me a butt-wipe warmer that put me over the edge… read more



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