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Welcome Register-Guard readers!
Aug 25th, 2009 by Nancy

I’m glad you found me, and many thanks to our fine local paper for the story.  Thorough answers to common questions:

The occasional Lunchsense delivery vehicle

The occasional Lunchsense delivery vehicle

How can I get a lunchbox and not pay for shipping it across town? Simple – just order up on the website, then enter your zip code at the checkout page.  The site will (by default) add a shipping charge, AND offer you a drop-down box to change your shipping option.  Open that box and select “no shipping, I’m local,” then recalculate the order and the shipping charge will be removed.

How do I get my lunchbox from you? Once I receive your order and I see that you’re in the area, I’ll give you a call or drop you an email and we can arrange a time and place to meet.

Do you make a Duck lunchbox? The forest green lunchbox is a Duck favorite!

Do you make a Beaver lunchbox? The blaze orange box is a Beaver favorite!

Do you make a Husky lunchbox? Umm….


Pain-free Lunch Prep
Aug 10th, 2009 by Nancy
ds-lunch

I'D EAT THAT: mushrooms, tomatoes, cukes, red pepper, an apricot, crackers & parmesan

For as much as I love them, I have never have liked packing lunch for my kiddos.  I don’t even like packing lunch for myself, and I run a lunchbox biz.  In fact, I think that’s WHY I started the lunchbox biz.  Anyway – born of desperation – I’ve come up with a few lunch-packing strategies to minimize the hassle, conveniently arranged in “DO” and “DON’T”.

WE DO:

We do make a list of what each kid will eat for lunch.  We divide it into two categories – Main dish and Sides – and have each kid sit down and fill in the list with me.

Main dishes would have sandwiches on them, if my kids liked sandwiches.  It helps a lot to be specific, so we’d even list all the different kinds they like…if they liked them.  Our lists have other things: bagels/cream cheese, tortillas/beans/cheese, crackers and cheese, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt/jam/cold cereal, soups, chili, noodles, sushi, and anything else we can think of.  I’ve always been terrible at remembering which kid likes rice with their tortillas and which kid wants salsa, for example, so this list really helps.  We also include dinner dishes, which can show up as leftovers in lunch – the kid who gets the leftover salmon is a lucky kid indeed.

Our side dish lists are mostly fruits and vegetables, again very useful because  I can’t keep track of each child’s likes and dislikes.  We make sure to indicate if condiments must accompany such as ranch dressing for the carrots.

Lastly, we post this list on the fridge, which is conveniently near the running grocery list. It’s easier that way to keep the kitchen stocked with lunch-type foods.  Speaking of groceries….

We do buy in bulk. Big bags of chips, big tubs of yogurt, we love ‘em here, and the food containers in the Lunchsense lunchboxes make divvying it up easy.  It saves money, of course, and saves us all from packaging waste.

We do make a quick scan of the leftovers in the lunchboxes after school. This way I can tell whether I’ve packed too much or too little, and when there ARE leftovers, voila! We have an afterschool snack all ready to go!

WE DON’T:

We don’t pack lunches the night before.  It’s a great idea that I’m sure many of you have heard before.  If you can manage this I commend you, but it’s just not my style.  I’m simply out of steam by the after-dinner hour, and we have momentum in the mornings, so we get lunches together while breakfast is underway.

We don’t have kids pack their own lunches.   They do help sometimes by (for example) getting the crackers into their side dish containers or choosing the apple to slice up, but there are three kids to feed and our kitchen is smallish, so the final assembly falls to me and I like it that way.  Stay tuned, however – my oldest is off to middle school this fall, and she may get to do her own lunch prep.  Thankfully she really enjoys all things food, so I think it will go well.  (I can hear all you moms-of-middle-schoolers laughing your heads off.  Oh, please grant me this one fantasy.)  Lastly, when I’m the lunch-prep maven, I can keep better track of what’s running low.

We don’t pack a dessert. Yes, this is messing with a time-honored institution – cookies after the carrot sticks – but WE ALL KNOW when those cookies get eaten, don’t we.  House rules state dessert occurs after the meal is completed, so we have a treat after school is out and after they’ve eaten any leftovers in their lunches.  (Okay, this isn’t a house rule.  There is only one house rule, in truth: “Don’t make mama cranky.” But that’s fodder for another post.  And I still don’t pack dessert in their lunches.)

How ’bout you?  Anything you’d like to add to this list?

The Allure of School Lunch
Aug 5th, 2009 by Nancy
Here's my son with his lunchbox

Here's my son with his lunchbox

What is it about school lunches that compel kids to beg for them, even when they don’t like what’s served? Case in point:

One February, when my son was in second grade, he and his class took a walking field trip to the local art museum, about a ½ mile away. I carved out some time in my morning to join them, and we all had a lovely time, but on the walk back my son pleaded,

Mama, can I PLEASE get hot lunch today??”

I had (as I do every morning) packed a lunch for him in his Lunchsense lunchbox. This is the boy that likes routine, and his preference for lunch was a bagel (whole wheat – he didn’t get a choice there) with cream cheese, carrot sticks, and milk. We did not deviate from that meal for weeks, and while I know that variety is the spice of life, and believe in moderation in all things (including moderation – but that’s fodder for another post), I knew he’d eat it and be reasonably fueled up for the afternoon, so I didn’t argue.
The day was cold, we were already late for the lunch period, and personally, I was having visions of hot mac-n-cheese. Thus I reasoned that if he bought hot lunch that day, I could abscond with his homemade lunch and maybe even swipe a bite of whatever hot meal he picked up in the cafeteria, so I obliged him and said,

Sure, you can have hot lunch today.”

School lunches vary greatly by region, and I give my local district lots of credit for trying to make them appealing, nutritious, and full of color and variety and at least some freshness. Besides the daily offerings they provide a salad bar with fresh fruits and veggies, yogurt, and whole wheat rolls – this is not what I recall from hot lunch of my youth, indeed. However the staff is just stretched too thin to provide much guidance in portion control, which is both a problem for kids with weight issues and often results in a great deal of food waste.
Lunch also costs $2.10. That’s a good price for a meal, but I have three kids and it works out to over $125 a month. It’s more than I’m willing to spend, especially since I can pack a lunch for less than half that price.
But I understand that kids often pine for what they don’t have, so I am willing to let them have hot lunch about once a month.
My son and his class marched off to the cafeteria, and after I checked in at the school office and picked up his lunchbox in the classroom I headed to the cafeteria to join them. Said boy had just sat down with his hard-earned, once-a-month, pick-whatever-you-like hot lunch tray when I came in.

Guess what he put on that tray:


A whole wheat bagel with cream cheese, carrot sticks, and milk.


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