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How To Pack A Waste-Free Lunch With Your Kids

waste-free lunch

School is back in session, and the kids are transitioning from summer break to classrooms and after-school activities. It’s not always easy to get back into the swing of things, but one of our favorite activities is packing a waste-free lunch with our kids.

Preparing and packing lunches the night before saves time during busy mornings and gives kids an opportunity to pick what they would like to eat. Here is our favorite recipe to follow when packing back-to-school lunches with your kids:

Step 1: Pick out fun reusable containers

The right containers provide a solid foundation for a nutritious lunch. Our kids love packing food in their stainless steel bento boxes. These durable, colorful containers make it easy to balance food groups and healthy portions.

Step 2: Make the main meal

With so many different combinations, sandwiches and wraps are an easy way to pack a healthy lunch. We are always experimenting, but here are a few of our favorite combinations. Help your kids cut them in half or quarters to fit into their containers. Fill in the other sections with cut fruits, veggies, nuts and more.

Step 3: Add snacks

Sundays are perfect for making a batch of snacks for the week. Energy bites are easy to make with your kids and pack along with lunch or for a quick after-school snack before activities begin.

Skip the plastic baggie and instead fill reusable snack bags with a handful of whole wheat pretzels or crackers.

Step 4: Hydrate properly

Water can be easily packed in reusable bottles. Remind your kids to BYOB (bring your own bottle) for the school day to reduce waste associated with throwaway plastic bottles and juice boxes. Cold smoothies, juices or milk can be packed in insulated jars. Remember to pre-chill by putting in the freezer for a few minutes (lid off) before filling with your cold drink.

Step 5: Don’t forget waste-free accessories

Bamboo sporks, stainless steel straws, a cloth napkin (and a note from mom and dad) make the perfect finishing touches for a waste-free lunch. Help your kids pack everything in their lunchbox and don’t forget to grab it out of the fridge in the morning!

Worried that your kids may not remember to bring all of their containers home? Our co-founder Lynn reassures you that they WILL remember!


Try this Eco-Friendly Challenge with our Partner Turning Green


At UKonserve, we are so grateful to partner with some of the best eco-friendly organizations who’s values are aligned with our vision to protect the environment and foster healthy communities.

Turning Green is devoted to education and advocacy around environmentally sustainable and socially responsible choices for individuals, schools and communities. Through many community programs and challenges targeted at high school and college students (but open to all ages), they make being eco-friendly fun, especially through their upcoming campaign:

Project Green Challenge

Project Green Challenge (PGC) is a powerful and diverse call to action for high school and college students around the world. During the month of October, PGC features thirty days of environmentally themed challenges that provide students with mentorship, advocacy and leadership skills. Participants are challenged to contribute through living consciously, mindful consumption and collective action. These individual and collective steps contribute to a healthy, just and thriving planet.

Since launching in 2011, this initiative has engaged over 25,000 students directly and tens of millions indirectly. More than 1,000 campuses in all 50 states and 45 countries have participated. This year’s challenge begins October 1st, and students have the potential to win $12k and a trip to San Fransisco. For more information or to sign up click here.

What are your favorite eco-friendly activities in your community? Share how you are involved! Post on social media and tag us.

Looking for more of our favorite resources and guides?  Check out our Pinterest board for the latest facts from our partners!

3 Recipes for our Round Stainless Steel Lunch Containers

stainless steel lunch containers

Today we tackle easy ideas for our round stainless steel lunch containers.  With different size options and leak-proof lids, these containers are our go to for packing daily snacks, salads, fresh fruits and veggies. Here are a few recipes we love for back-to-school:

Tomato Basil Quinoa with Turkey


  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 7 oz fresh baby spinach
  • 1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • fresh basil


  1. In a saucepan bring 1 cup dry quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil.
    Once the water begins to boil turn heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Add olive oil to a saucepan and cook the turkey.
  3. Once the turkey has cooked, add the crushed tomatoes and spinach, and simmer over low heat until the spinach has wilted.
  4. Add the quinoa into the turkey mixture, adding fresh basil and crushed red pepper flakes to your liking.
  5. Saute over low heat 1-2 minutes longer and serve or pack in your round stainless steel lunch containers. Makes 4-6 servings.

Note: Crushed red pepper is a spicy addition to this dish! If you’re looking to add a more subtle flavor, saute a clove of garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and add instead of red pepper.

Easy Edamame, Carrot & Kale Salad


  • 1 bunch kale (dinosaur/lacinato/tuscan kale or curly kale)
  • fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 cup chopped snow peas (slice off tough ends first)
  • Large carrot, peeled and ribboned with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • A heaping cup of organic edamame (if using frozen edamame, defrost by tossing into a pot of boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes)
  • An avocado, sliced into small chunks
  • A large shallot, finely sliced
  • handful cilantro, chopped
  • handful basil, chopped

Tamari-Ginger Vinaigrette

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari (or other low-sodium soy sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced


  1. Remove the tough ribs from the kale, then discard them.
  2. Chop the kale leaves into small, bite-sized pieces and transfer them to a mixing bowl.
  3. Sprinkle the kale with a dash of sea salt and use your hands to massage the kale by scrunching up the leaves until the kale is darker and fragrant.
  4. Toss the remaining salad dressing ingredients with the kale.
  5. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together all the ingredients until emulsified. Toss the dressing with the salad and pack into your reusable containers.

Fast 5-Minute Hummus


  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, NOT drained
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (depending on how garlicky you prefer it)
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil


  1. Microwave undrained chickpeas and whole garlic cloves in a mixing bowl for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add to blender or food processor and process with lemon juice, salt and tahini. Stream in olive oil while mixing.
  3. Process until smooth and creamy, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as you prefer.
  4. Garnish with a little more olive oil and paprika, and serve with veggies, crackers and pita. Leftovers keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It tastes even better refrigerated, as it has time to thicken up and develop in flavor.

Note: This recipe has so many options! To make your favorite flavored hummus add ingredients like red pepper. For a delicious snack cut up fresh veggies and pack along with the hummus in your round stainless steel lunch containers.

Looking for more inspiration? Head over to our Pinterest Page to see many more of our favorite recipes and ideas for our round stainless steel lunch containers!

Go Green at School this Year with these Fun Programs!

go green

Are you ready to go green and take your school year to the next level?  We’ve rounded up our top four favorite green school initiatives to integrate into your year.  These programs cover all ages so whether you’re 5 or 15, there is something for everyone!

Turning Green’s Project Green Challenge:

Project Green Challenge (PGC) is a powerful and diverse call to action for high school and college students around the world. Taking place during the month of October, PGC features thirty days of environmentally themed challenges, providing students with mentorship, advocacy and leadership skills. Through conscious living, informed consumption, and individual and collective action, PGC participants are challenged to contribute to a healthy, just and thriving planet.

Since launching in 2011, this initiative has engaged over 25,000 students directly and tens of millions indirectly, on more than 1,000 campuses in all 50 states and 45 countries. This year’s challenge begins October 1st, and students have the potential to win $12k and a trip to San Fransisco. For more information or to sign up click here.

UKonserve Waste-Free Challenge:

Every year, a child using a disposable lunch creates 67 pounds of waste. Go green this year and kick the habit of disposable bags, plastic bottles and packaged foods. Help your school go waste-free and reduce trash in our landfills and oceans!

We offer 2 different options for running waste-free challenges at your school.

  1. Offer a coupon code to families at school by including our Parent Flier in your school newsletter, on classroom bulletin boards or in back-to-school packets. Parents order directly at ukonserve.com and receive 20% off all orders. Items are shipped directly to the customer.
  2. Run a SALE! Offer families a 20% DISCOUNT plus free shipping or offer families products at the regular price plus free shipping and FUNDRAISE 20% for your school.

For more information and resources on our waste-free challenge click here.

Cool the Earth:

This K-8 enrichment program teaches students about climate change solutions. The program runs in the following format:

  • ASSEMBLY: They provide a script, costumes and materials. Then volunteers at each school stage their own 25-minute climate change assembly.
  • ACTION: After the assembly, each student brings home a coupon book featuring a variety of actions families can take to help stop climate change.
  • RESULTS: Completed coupons are collected at school and tallied by a volunteer. As the tally builds, kids see the change they make by working together.

Cool the Earth provides all necessary materials and support to each school that runs the program. Interested in learning more or signing up your school or organization? Click here for more information!

Captain Planet:

“Our children can inherit a legacy of wastefulness, or an action plan that can save our planet. That is why we created Captain Planet and the Planeteers.” – Ted Turner

The Captain Planet Foundation empowers young people by having schools and organizations around the world present their environmental projects to the Foundation in return for seed money to grow their ideas.  This system puts their mascot, Captain Planet’s message of environmental stewardship and teamwork into practice.

The Captain Planet receives hundreds of proposals yearly and enables young people to become Planeteers themselves by raising environmental awareness and creating a positive impact in their communities and themselves.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and go green this school year with one of these programs. Starting your own green initiative? Let us know in the comments below or tag us on one of our social media pages.

Head Back to School with the U•Konserve Team!

With back-to-school just around the corner, we decided to go behind the scenes at U•Konserve and interview the team for their top waste-free lunch tips! Below we hear from co-founders Lynn and Chance as well as the head of the marketing team, Wendy.

1. How do you get your family into the back-to-school routine after summer vacation?

LJ: It is hard! Try to get them to a regular sleep schedule a few days before the first school day. We have traditions like a special breakfast on the first day which is fun. We also do calendar…sit down and look at upcoming months, fill in school events, picture day, fall break ideas, trips and other fun things, so they have things to look forward to.

CC: Pray that my daughter will get out of bed in time to make it to school.

WM: I think a clutter-free room helps clear the mind, so we try to donate outgrown clothes and books, fix broken items, recycle old papers, and make sure everyone has a tidy work surface free of distractions. We try to eke out every last bit of summer, so going to bed early doesn’t happen in our house until the night before the first day of school.

2. What are your favorite waste-free lunch tips?

LJ: Of course, fun products! Our products make it easy to pack a huge assortment of yummy snacks and foods.

CC: For me, the most impactful tips are all on our fact page. The facts speak to how much trash is going into the world which could easily be remedied by using our products.

WM: My kids come home for lunch, but pack waste-free all the time for after-school outings, trips, and daily leftovers that get eaten as soon as everyone comes in the door after school. Remember to take reusable items with you because even a quick trip to town can involve a run in with the dreaded disposable bag, cup, utensil or straw!

3. What are your kid’s favorite U•Konserve products for their lunch boxes?

LJ: The Insulated food jar for sure because they get excited when they get something homemade rather than the usual sandwich.  The new family favorite though is the big mini because it is the perfect size for so many things! Fig Newtons, goldfish, grapes, berries, cashews, peanut butter for dipping apples in…

CC: Round nesting trios, lunch tote, sweat-free ice pack.

WM: Even though my kids eat lunch at home, they always bring one or two leak-proof round containers to school for a hearty snack like hummus wraps, pasta salad or cut fruit.

4. Any tips for parents just adopting the waste-free lifestyle?

LJ: Don’t worry, they WILL bring it all home!

CC: Invest in quality, durable products that you know will last the school year and ideally much longer. Talk to your kids about reuse and why it is important that they bring these items back home every day and do not lose them.

WM: Try to replace (or eliminate) one thing at a time, so you don’t get overwhelmed. Sometimes it helps to just stop buying a disposable product like paper towels, Ziploc baggies or anything in a plastic bottle, and you’ll soon start to find alternatives that you like. Don’t forget to seek out bulk options, and stores that let you refill shampoo, lotion and soap bottles. And, don’t be discouraged when you mess up because it takes a while for it to become routine.

5. Do you and your kids have any favorite brands for back to school?

CC: Topo backpacks, converse high tops, and Brandy Melville! Yikes

WM: My teenage daughter is researching makeup on ewg.org. My teenage son is obsessed with sustainable brands for backpacks and clothing like Topo Designs, Timbuk2, and Patagonia.

How is your family gearing up for back-to-school?  Leave a comment below or comment/tag us on social media and let us know!

Back-to-School with Stainless Steel Lunch Containers

stainless steel lunch containers

Back-to-school means back to packing lunches! Save time, energy and have fun with the kids by packing waste-free lunches in stainless steel lunch containers. You’ll eat healthier by packing homemade, non-packaged foods. Practice healthy portion control and pack balanced meals full of your kid’s favorite foods.

Removable dividers transform stainless steel lunch containers into bento-style solutions with multiple functions, giving you two containers in one. Here are a few of our favorite go-to bento lunches:

Four of a Kind

Pack your four-section divided container with:

  • Rainbow Roll
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Crackers of your choice

Pack a side of hummus or dipping sauce in a reusable mini container.

Twice as Nice

Pack your two-section divided container with:

  • Apple & Walnut Salad – Combine mixed greens with 4 slices of apple, a tablespoon of gorgonzola cheese, and a handful of walnuts. Pack a dressing of choice on top of the salad or on the side in a mini container.
  • Turkey and Avocado Sandwich – Cut a slice of bread diagonally, spread hummus on one side, add half of a sliced avocado, turkey, cheese of your choice and mixed greens or lettuce.

Fruit & Veggie Delight

  • Leftover Wrap – Combine any leftovers in your fridge with any veggies in a wrap and slice into bite size pieces. Add brown rice or quinoa for more protein.
  • Fruit Slices – Cut up your favorite piece of fruit into slices and enjoy alongside your leftover wrap!

Interested in more ideas for back-to-school lunches? Head over to our Pinterest Page to see our favorites. Also check out our Cost Comparison and save $372 every school year by forgoing a disposable lunch.

Food for Thought…

If every person in New York City uses one less plastic bag for a year, 200 tons of carbon dioxide would be eliminated. We’re grateful to so many of our stores for sharing our waste-free mission and supporting environmental causes. Get back-to-school off to a sustainable start and commit to eliminating all single-use plastic baggies—an easy goal with our reusable options. Find them online or at a store in your community.


The Incredible Eight: A Celebration of Our 8th Anniversary

kids konserve

This time of year is always a milestone for me, a time of reflection. Eight years ago in 2008, my daughter McLaine entered kindergarten and we began Kids Konserve .  We launched with what I thought would be our only product: a Waste-Free Lunch Kit. Together with my friend and co-founder, we were ready to convert every school in the U.S. to a waste-free lifestyle.  One school at a time.

The Number 8

Fast forward eight years later to our 8th anniversary and much has changed. We transitioned from Kids Konserve to U•Konserve, a name that reflects our broader product selection. We now offer waste-free and reusable food-storage solutions to the whole family through many channels. This year my daughter is also transitioning to the 8th grade.

The number 8 seems to be the theme. In numerology it represents balance. 8 is both ‘spiritual’, that is to say practical, realistic and intelligent, as well as ‘materialistic’, or focused on results/money, but it does not care much about money for the sake of wealth. Greed is not involved. Rather, money is the tool to get the job done, to achieve the end result, while taking risks along the way.

How fitting the number 8 is! In addition to striving daily for a sense of balance: making meaning of my career, family, exercise, me-time, etc., I realize that the past eight years have been marked by ‘money’ and taking risks within the confines of the funds U•Konserve has to work with.

Every day we look to where we can reach out in order to share our message of REUSE and the importance of educating families about our products and how to live a waste-free lifestyle. This is still what drives us—eight years later.

If you have any similar experiences about how the number eight might also play a role in your life, please share!

Warmly and gr8fully,

Back-to-School Giveaway with U Konserve & Friends

back-to-school giveaway

It’s here! Back to school has arrived with its early mornings, homework, and afterschool activities. We want you and your family to be extra prepared, and leave your footprints in the playground, not in the landfill. So we’ve asked some of our waste-reducing, earth-loving friends to join us for a Back-to-School Giveaway.

Enter to win our Back-to-School Grand Prize with our friends at All Good, Quinn Popcorn, and Late July:

Click here to enter the Back-to-School Giveaway!

Included in the giveaway are the following items:

Quinn Popcorn

POPPED POPCORN WITH ORGANIC COCONUT OIL Extra virgin coconut oil is kinda the superstar of the oil world. Light, simple popcorn, with a tiny hint of coconut. TOUCH OF HONEY PRETZELS The first gluten free, whole ancient grain, non-GMO project verified pretzel.

Late July

SEA SALT MULTIGRAIN TORTILLA CHIPS Lightly salted & crunchy with whole grains & seeds. Organic, non-GMO, gluten-free.

All Good

SUN CARE SET SPF20 Lip Balm, SPF33 Sunscreen and SPF30 Sunstick. Head-to-toe lasting and effective organic protection for sun worshippers.

U Konserve

WASTE-FREE LUNCH STARTER KIT Insulated Lunch Tote in Navy, Divided Rectangle Container in Sky, Round Container Large in Lime and a Big Mini Container.

Enjoy a Waste-Free Lunch With These Food Wrap Ideas

We’ve already given you six reasons why you should bag the plastic baggie. Our solution to the 20,000,000 sandwich bags thrown away every year was to create a reusable food kozy. Today we’ve listed three of our favorite food wrap recipes just in time for you to pack your waste-free lunch!

Avocado Egg Salad Wraps


  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 large avocado, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise or Vegenaise
  • 1 teaspoon curry or fenugreek powder
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Wrap or bread
  • Optional: lettuce and tomato for toppings


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mash together with a fork
  2. Adjust the salt/pepper/mayo to your taste
  3. Place the salad in a wrap or on bread
  4. Pack in food wrap for a waste-free lunch!

Chicken and Broccoli Bites


  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more for baking sheet
  • 6 broccoli florets, cut into small pieces, stalks peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds (about 2 cups total)
  • 2 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 ounces Jarlsberg cheese, coarsely shredded (about 1/3 cup)
  • 4 flour tortillas, (each 8 inches in diameter)
  • 1 medium boneless, skinless chicken breast half (about 6 ounces)


  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add chicken; cook until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Reduce heat to medium. Cook until juices run clear, and chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Let cool completely. Coarsely chop chicken, and transfer to a medium bowl.

  2. Bring 1-1/2 inches of water to a boil in a small saucepan fitted with the steamer insert. Add broccoli; cover, and cook until broccoli is just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Let cool completely. Coarsely chop broccoli; add to chicken in the bowl. Add cheeses, and season with salt and pepper. Toss well.

  3. Place a packed 1/2 cup of chicken mixture in center of each tortilla; shape the filling into a horizontal oval. Fold in right and left sides about 1/2 inch, then tightly roll up.

  4. For melted cheese, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place pockets seam down on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake until crisp and beginning to turn golden about 12 minutes. Cut in half crosswise to let cool and pack.

Cheesy Veggie Sandwich


  • 1/4 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 small red bell pepper, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 small carrot, very finely grated
  • 2 slices whole-wheat bread, crusts removed


  1. Bring 1-inch water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add broccoli. Cover; let steam until soft. Drain. Let cool; finely chop.

  2. Stir together ricotta, broccoli, bell pepper, and carrot in a medium bowl. Spread 1/4 cup ricotta mixture onto 1 slice of bread. Top with the second slice. Cut into quarters. Leftover spread can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days.

We love finding new lunch recipes! Check out our Pinterest page for more food wrap recipes and beyond!

Back-to-School Breakfast Ideas for the Whole Family!

school breakfast

Back to school is just around the corner! Early mornings don’t have to be rushed preparing breakfast and packing lunch. Today we’ve listed three of our favorite recipes for an easy and nutritious back-to-school breakfast.

These recipes are fun and easy to make with your children. It’s the perfect opportunity to introduce them to the nutritional benefits of eating fresh fruits, vegetables and grains, all while giving them the energy to last through the school day.

Fruit and Nut Granola Bars

1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup uncooked pre-rinsed quinoa
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 ripe bananas, mashed (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup roughly chopped almonds
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup dried fruit (raisins or cranberries work well)
1/4 cup natural creamy almond butter
2 tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper to prevent bars from sticking.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, uncooked quinoa, chia seeds, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in mashed banana and vanilla. Fold in almonds, pecans (or walnuts) and dried fruit.
  3. Place a small saucepan over low heat; add in almond butter and honey (or maple syrup) and stir until warm and almond butter is melted. Fold into granola bar mixture until well combined.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and press down firmly with hands or with a measuring cup to help bars stay intact. Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown.
  5. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 10 bars. Feel free to mix and match dried fruits and nuts as you see fit. These bars can be stored at room temperature for a few days, but are best kept tightly wrapped in the fridge or freezer.

Overnight Oats

1/2 cup almond milk
3/4 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp peanut butter or almond butter (creamy or crunchy)
1 Tbsp maple syrup (or sub coconut sugar, organic brown sugar, or stevia to taste)
1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats

Sliced banana, berries, or fruit of choice


  1. To a reusable container or small bowl add almond milk, chia seeds, peanut butter, and maple syrup (or another sweetener) and stir with a spoon to combine. The peanut butter doesn’t need to be thoroughly mixed with the almond milk (doing so leaves swirls of peanut butter to enjoy the next day).
  2. Add oats and stir a few more times, then press down with a spoon to ensure all oats have been moistened and immersed in almond milk.
    Cover securely with a lid or plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least 6 hours).
  3. The next day, open and enjoy as is, or garnish with desired toppings (see options above).

Overnight oats will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, though best within the first 12-24 hours.

Egg Muffin Cups

Cooking spray
6 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, ground
1 medium bell pepper, red
3/4 cup spinach
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded


  1. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Dice the bell pepper into small pieces. Stack the spinach leaves, roll them up, and slice them thin.
  4. Add the peppers, spinach, and shredded cheddar to the egg mixture.
  5. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until centers are set and no longer runny.
  6. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Store extras in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up four days, or in a freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to a month. Microwave thawed egg cups for 45-60 seconds or until hot.

School breakfast ideas don’t have to be complicated for your kids to receive nutritious benefits. For more back-to-school breakfast and lunch ideas head on over to our Pinterest page!