Low Package Lunch; A Crash Course
Seeing how lunchtime garbage piles up in the office where I work inspired me to gather information on where and how one can obtain a minimally packaged noon meal in Minneapolis, MN, where I work.
I use this chow.com rating system to determine which food vessels to recommend:
Bring what you can
Find restaurants that allow you to bring your own container. Some salad bars can subtract the tare weight of your container off the total (just make sure you know the weight before you fill it!). Independently owned restaurants are more flexible than franchises. When possible, bring your own utensils, cups for beverages, etc.
Leave what you can
If you’re not going to use those condiments, wet naps, or plastic utensils that snuck into your bag, give them back with a big smile. In fact, give the bag back too. I try to be extra nice (but not apologetic!) in these transactions, as some people may feel their completely hospitable intent is being rebuffed when you refuse their trashy meal accoutrements. Don’t worry, they’ll get over it!
Decrease the volume
Food that can be rolled into a small amount of paper or foil is a good choice, such as burritos or submarine sandwiches. Elaborate meals with side dishes generate more trash.
It’s not just lunch, it’s your legacy
The meal is soon forgotten, but the container that came with it could be around for thousands of years. Recycling helps but is costly, inefficient, unreliably available and energy-gobbling compared to steering clear of the disposable container in the first place. When a to go box is necessary, be choosy about materials. Ask for 100% recycled paper boxes, and support the restaurants that use them.
And now the fun part: Food Trucks!
These waning days of summer behoove me to note that the food trucks converging for lunchtime in downtown Minneapolis offer packaging more minimal/sustainable than average. They also offer adventurous menus full of delicious fare that isn’t available all year round. Below are a few I know to offer reasonable packaging. Follow them on Twitter to see where they’ll pop up next.
World Street Kitchen
International street food from around the world, Morocco to Vietnam. Serving lunch Monday to Friday from 11am-1:15pm
Near IDS Center on Nicollet Mall
Dandelion Kitchen offers handcrafted food from farm to trailer. Bringing creative, locally-sourced, globally influenced, high-quality food to the streets and markets of Minneapolis.
Turkey To Go
8th and Nicollet and Target Field
Turkey To Go offers Minnesota Turkey Sandwiches, famous from the State Fair.
Serving delicious Pan-Asian & Mexican mash-ups to the Twin Cities.
On the streets of Mpls Mon-Fri from 11a-1:30p. Full menu at The 1029 Bar (1029 Marshall St NE) Wed-Sat starting at 5p.
Lobster Rolls, Lobster Mac & Cheese, Po’ Boys, Shrimp, Sausage and more!