For an everyday task, it’s astonishing that packing lunch remains a universal anxiety. Lunchtime is for recharging and refueling. This midday meal should be a chance to relax and tuck into a yummy sandwich or salad. But making lunch is more often a hassle and becomes a last-minute stressor for parents. With school starting up, it’s time to get back into the swing of things. Just a little bit of lunch planning can go along way to making lunch easy and enjoyable.
Here are our top tips for making and packing lunch:
1. Last night’s dinner is today’s lunch. Using leftovers is the oldest trick in the book. Divvy out lunch portions as you plate your evening meal. It will make the morning routine a breeze (or at least more manageable than normal).
2. Stock the pantry. Having dried fruit, nuts, and crackers on hand makes snack packing a snap.
3. Buy seasonal produce. Fresh fruit and veggies are ideal compliments to any packed lunch.
4. Use reusable containers.
- Bento boxes are a sleek alternative to Tupperware containers.
- Weck jars are versatile containers great for yogurt, side salads, and dressing.
- Bee’s Wrap is a washable and compostable alternative to plastic wrap, great for wrapping sandwiches.
- Linen bento bags take the place of a lunch box and are the ultimate multifunctional satchel.
- SHED Water Bottles are made from stainless steel and help you avoid using plastic water bottles.
Packing your lunch strategically reduces waste, saves money that would be spent eating out, and is better for the environment. You can reduce lunch waste by packing your desired portions instead of relying on take-out portion sizes. Single-use plastic items like sandwich bags and cling wrap are major environmental contaminants. By investing in reusable containers, you are reducing your carbon footprint and making a fashion statement.
Cutting and caring for flowers correctly ensures that the hard work of your garden gets its best reception. Cutting flowers and caring for them is simple, but it helps to know what you’re going to do first. Here are our favorite steps to floral beauty and longevity — in the vase!
Most flowers are best picked when they are just starting to show color, and will last longer at this stage than if collected in full bloom. However some flowers, such as dahlias and roses, may not fully open up if cut when the buds are tight.
Here are some tips for cutting flowers:
- Generally, the best time to cut and collect flowers is in the morning when their stems are turgid and less likely to wilt. Ideally wait until the dew has dried because moisture on flowers in storage are prone to botrytis, a fungal disease that will ruin them.
- If you wait until the evening to cut flowers, do so when the sun is low in the sky and the air has cooled. In a perfect world, flowers would be cut only in temperatures below 80 degrees.
- Make sure your clippers are clean to prevent the spread of bacteria. A quick dip in a jar of alcohol in between harvests will also help reduce the spread of disease. Clippers should also be sharp in order to make a clean cut and not smash the stems. We recommend you invest in high quality clippers (pruners) and a sharpening stone. We like to use a strong pair of pruners for thick stems such as lilacs and other woody perennials. For thinner stems, we prefer these everyday garden scissors.
- Cutting flowers quickly and efficiently is a skill you develop with experience. You need to cut the flower, stripping the foliage from the lower part of the stem, and get the stems into water as soon as possible.
- Always be sure to use scrupulously clean buckets, or you’ll risk introducing bacteria that will quickly plug up the stems of your flowers and prevent them from taking up water. Without water, your flowers will quickly wilt.
Once cut, it’s important to condition flowers to prolong their longevity and keep them looking their best.
Condition the cut stems by following these easy steps:
- After cutting, you need to remove the field heat from the plant material as soon as possible to ensure the longest life. For the home gardener, bringing the flowers into a cool house or garage is usually all you need to cool them off.
- For best results, recut all stems using sharp pruners to avoid crushing the stems and reducing their ability to take up water through their stems.
- Leave the prepared stems in a cool place for 2 to 3 hours or longer to allow the flowers to drink up water and become turgid again.
- Some plants with weak stems and heavy heads are prone to bending. To help straighten the stems, wrap the bunch of flowers in newspaper and leave in water for at least two hours. As the stems take in water and stiffen, they will support the flower head in an upright position.
Now is the busy buzzy time when pollinators abound and flowers compete for their attention, using bright colors and glorious scents to bring butterflies, bees, and even bats to them in order to make new flowers for next spring.
We love the ranunculus, anemones, sweet peas, roses, hyacinth, tulips, jasmine, calla lilies, and abundant other cutting flowers that this season produces, but we also look to flowering limbs and pretty green branches when choosing flora for the home.
Here are a bevy of great tips for caring for cut flowers that we hope you’ll find useful. Have some great tips of your own? Leave them in the comments section! We adore finding new ways to care indoors for our favorite outdoor blooms.
Cut Flower Tips
- Cut flowers as early in the morning as you can.
- Generally, it’s wise to re-cut flowers that were harvested more than 30 minutes before arranging or are brought home from the store. Use sharp pruners. The bottom of the stem will have sealed a little bit and water won’t otherwise penetrate.
- Clean and sanitize all buckets and vases before each use. Bacteria is one of the culprits that makes your cut flowers fade. A good rule of thumb is that these vessels should be clean enough to drink from.
- After cutting, remove low leaves and place stems immediately into cool, clean water. This will minimize wilting, since there is less foliage to rehydrate. The easiest way to do this is to carry a bucket with you at harvest time.
- Flowering trees and shrubs make more wonderful additions to arrangements, but getting their woody stems to take up water can be tricky. Immediately after harvesting, remove the lower half of their leaves and use heavy clippers to split woody stem ends vertically a few inches up.
- For special cases such as basil, cerinthe, Iceland poppies, mint, and scented geranium, dip stem ends into boiling water, or hold them over an open flame for 7 to 10 seconds before placing in a cool vase of water.
- Condition stems and branches in water for 24 hours before you do an arrangement to properly hydrate the stems and extend the flower’s freshness. Keep them in a place as cool as you can find.