In My Lunch Bag: Alexandra Zissu

Alexandra Zissu

Photos: To-Go ware tiered container, The Conscious Kitchen, Lunchskins reusable sandwich bag, Bernardin Jelly Jar, People towels: reusable cloth towels


Today’s edition of In My Lunch Bag has taken an environmentally-conscious turn, and I’m thrilled. To date, we’ve discussed the health impact of lunch-packing but getting into the habit of greening that lunch is equally important.

If you were to pack a lunch every work day for a year, this would amount to approximately 260 occasions to either contribute, or take away from the planet. Small changes definitely make a difference. Imagine that in Quebec alone, we produce enough waste to fill up 5 million garbage bags…every  single day. So, you’ll find that today’s lunch-packing takeaway is all about reducing.


To enlighten us on the topic, I’m excited to have eco-living expert  Alexandra Zissu with us, author of the Conscious kitchen and more recently the Butcher’s guide to ethically raised meat, just to name a few. I’ve been a fan of her work in environmental health for some time, having used her books as my own personal resource and always learn from her Q&A designed blog posts. Needless to say, it’s a real treat to have her share her personal lunch-packing secrets.


How would you describe your lunch-packing philosophy? The philosophy is good, real food in reusable containers. The goal is for a packed lunch to be entirely waste-free, so they always include reusable containers. 

Do you have any favorite lunch box accessories? Anything waste-free that isn’t plastic. I’m a big fan of glass and stainless steel, old jelly jars, cloth napkins, real utensils, reusable water bottles and I have a few hemp sandwich bags with velcro. My daughter’s schools haven’t been hugely thrilled about the idea of sending a kid to school with (breakable) glass. Fine. So we’ve invested in a few things like a stainless steel-lined thermos and a stainless steel tiffin.


What protein source might we find in your lunch bag? We eat meat (I did co-author The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat after all…) but not very much. And I tend to prefer whatever meat I do eat, at night and hot. I’m not much of a cold cut person. So protein at lunch is found in cheese, quinoa, maybe some nut butter, and beans. 


In your lunch bag, we would never find: Anything disposable or a plastic baggie.


Favourite snack(s): Fruit, fruit and more seasonal fruit. I’m eating concord grapes as I type. I also make a lot of (organic) popcorn and am overly fond of kale chips.


How do you avoid individual wrapping:  I avoid individual wrapping by shopping largely at the farmers’ market. I am not a yogurt fan but other people in my household eat it and so I try to buy the big containers; those tiny containers drive me over the edge.


Are there any other tips that you would like to share with my readers? Packing a waste-free lunch is easier than you think. And so is packing an organic lunch. The point is the packing your own food means you’ll save tons of cash and be in charge of the ingredients. It’s a win-win situation, but it takes some getting used to. You need to grocery shop in order to have food to pack for lunch. Sounds simple, but it’s the difference between success and failure! It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, either. Start by packing a few days a week.

How do you fare on packing a completely waste-free lunch?


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