Hack the Snack Attack, Sustainably
A recent study revealed that public schools in the U.S. generate about 14,500 tons of municipal solid waste each day, and nearly half of that is food packaging that's contributing to the global packaging waste problem in a BIG way.
While store-bought “snack packs” are convenient for to-go snacking, they come with a high price tag and unnecessary single-use plastic. Luckily, 88% of shoppers say they look for more sustainable snack options, so we’re heading in the right direction. We can easily do our part to reduce waste with these small steps:
- Shop for snacks / snack ingredients that use low waste, easily recyclable packaging. Bulk food shopping is your zero-waste friend, but if that’s not an option look for snacks packaged in containers that can be reused (like glass jars) or recycled. Sadly, 91% of plastic waste is not recycled so avoid plastic packaging as much as possible.
- Send kids to school with healthy, tasty snacks packaged in lightweight, reusable Stasher bags and bowls. Hot tip: label each Stasher so it comes home with your child.
Scroll down (or use the quick links below) for 8 easy ideas to help you hack the daily snack attack and the plastic pollution problem — we give that an A++ 🏆
8 Easy Sustainable Snack Ideas
1. Package-Free Cheese Sticks
Individually wrapped cheese sticks are a popular snack that’s easy to DIY (minus the single-use plastic) by purchasing a block of cheese then slicing it into sticks or squares. To save time when packing lunches, these can be prepped in batches for the week and stored in Stasher Snack Bags.
Plastic-free shopping tip: To purchase cheese without plastic packaging, go to the deli section and ask for a block of cheese wrapped in paper.
2. Zero-Waste Microwave Popcorn
If you haven’t tried Stasher microwave popcorn, you’re missing one of the best snack hacks that’s also a lot less expensive — and less wasteful — than store-bought microwave popcorn. If your local market has a bulk food aisle, you’ll typically find popcorn kernels in one of the bins. BYO Stasher and fill it up so you always have popcorn in the pantry.
To prepare, just follow the instructions here. We highly recommend using a Stand-Up Bag or Stasher Bowl — both stand up in the microwave. The 8-Cup Bowl is ideal for preparing a large batch that can be portioned out into smaller bags or bowls. Go classic or get creative with one of the recipes below!
3. Homemade Snack Bars & Energy Bites
Protein and granola bars are great snacks for a nutrition-packed energy boost, but store-bought bars are often laden with sugar and preservatives — and individually wrapped in single-use plastic. 😱 With a little prep, you can DIY snack bars and energy bites that are tasty, less expensive, more nutritious, and waste-free. Plus, many of the ingredients typically found in energy bars can be purchased from bulk food bins for a zero-waste option.
Recipe Inspiration 💡 Nut, Seed, & Oat Power Bars (gluten-free), DIY Your Favorite Protein Bars, Peanut Butter Energy Bars (no bake), 4-Ingredient Chocolate Banana Protein Balls (no bake), Energy Bites - 10 Flavors (no bake)
4. Fresh Fruit & Veggie Snacks
Let’s be real: getting kids to eat fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies can be tough if you have a picky eater. For school lunches, try having them pick their favorite Stasher bag or bowl and their favorite fruit or veggie, then pack it up in ready-to-eat form. Including a separate container with their favorite dipping option can also add to the appeal. Try nut / seed butter or yogurt for fruit, and hummus, ranch dressing, or guacamole for veggies — whatever dipper your child prefers. Store it in a leak-free 1-Cup Bowl for easy dipping.
5. Preserved Fruit Snacks
Preserved fruits are great for snacking, especially when fresh local fruit is less abundant. For a sustainable swap, ditch those store-bought single-serving plastic fruit containers for large “value size” jars available at places like Costco and Sam’s Club, and portion them into reusable single serving containers like the Stasher 1-Cup Bowl or Stand-Up Mini. Anything that won’t be used in the short term can be frozen, and later defrosted and served in the same container. Once empty, clean and reuse those large jars — they make great storage containers for pantry staples like flour, sugar, grains, pasta, etc.
Feeling homestead-y? Purchase (or grow) fresh produce and make your own preserves! If canning in mason jars is more than you can take on, another option is to freeze fresh fruit and homemade preserves in reusable containers.
6. Bulk Food Bin Snacks
We can’t say this enough when it comes to sustainable snacking: bulk food bins are your best zero-waste BFF — and also less expensive than buying comparable pre-packaged items. The bulk food aisle is like a snack buffet with an assortment of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, trail mixes, cracker mixes, granola, etc. You’re bound to find many kid-pleasing options. Be sure to check out our bulk shopping guide that includes a handy tare weight reference chart so you can BYO Stasher instead of grabbing those single-use plastic bags.
7. Crunchy Snack Ideas
You can’t go wrong with a crunchy snack like pretzels, chips, or the ubiquitous goldfish-shaped crackers, all of which come with packaging waste. Where possible, look for crunchy snacks that can be purchased in bulk food bins or bulk packaging (ideally not plastic), and store them in an airtight glass container to preserve freshness. If you’re a DIY fan, try making your own cheese crackers or tortilla chips with one of the recipes linked below.
Important Note: Food-grade silicone is not ideal for long-term storage of crunchy foods. Instead, use your Stasher silicone bags and bowls as the perfect lightweight, leak-free to-go container for all things crunchy. The Sandwich, Snack, Go, and Pocket bags are most popular for single serving snacks.
8. Homemade Baked Goods
Let’s be real: if most kids had their way, snacking on sweets would be the norm. While nutritional sustenance is important, a balanced diet can — and should — allow for indulgence. From cookies to quick breads, home-baked treats give us more control over clean ingredients without the need for preservatives and the waste of plastic packaging. Plus, baking is a fun family activity if your kiddos like to lend a hand in the kitchen.
Bulk food aisles are a great place for stocking up on package-free baking essentials like flour, sugar, and chocolate chips. To make the most of your time, prep big batches that can be frozen in a Stasher bag or bowl, then pulled out as needed when packing snacks to-go. Also try freezing pre-rolled cookie dough to pop in the oven whenever a freshly-baked goodie is needed.
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