Chicagoans and Seattleites: How to get a free lunchbox
May 4th, 2010 by Nancy

GF-Chicago2010_EventGuideIf you live in or around Chicago or Seattle and you’d like to score a free lunchbox, you’re in luck!  I’ll be coming your way for the Chicago Green Festival May 22-23, and the Seattle Green Festival June 5-6, I need a few people to help me in the booth.

In exchange for 4 hours of booth help, you will receive:

  • free entry to Green Festival (good both days – a $15 value);
  • cash for lunch ($10)
  • a free Lunchsense lunchbox (up to $48 value)
  • the chance to ask an entrepreneur ANYTHING about running a biz (priceless)

While in the booth you’ll be talking to visitors, demonstrating the features and benefits of the lunchboxes, and completing the transaction should they decide to buy.  I’ll be in the booth at all times (less restroom breaks), so you’ll never be without backup assistance.

No hard sell here – since most of my sales are online, shows are the best place for me to meet customers face-to-face and to get feedback.  While I’d certainly like to sell everything I bring, I’m not strident about it.

If you’re interested, please send me a note at moreinfo@lunchsense.com, and be sure to include your contact information.  I’ll get back to you within a day or two.

If live in the area but you can’t help out, that’s fine, I understand, but please do come to Green Festival if you get the chance – it’s a venue chock-full of resources, ideas, cool stuff, and very friendly, very smart people about all things green!

Come see a trade show from the other side!

Leaving on a Jet Plane
Feb 26th, 2010 by Nancy

It’s pouring rain outside. Again.beach scene 4

I love Eugene, and I’m a Northwest native (“Clan of the webbed toes”) so rain doesn’t really register most of the time, but after a spate of gardening last weekend I’m getting a bit fed up with February, and March is threatening to march in this weekend looking suspiciously similar to it.

I concede that I have nothing, comparatively speaking, to complain about. You East Coasters are having a winter for the record books and the most recent storm means that many of you can’t even see this post because the power is out, and I really, truly, feel for you.  Weather over there has gone from “inconvenient” to “Dorothy’s house just flew by the front window,” and you are all in our thoughts and prayers.

Nobody on either coast, then, would fault any of us for daydreaming about warmer, drier climes.

Getting to those locales is weighing heavy on my mind, though. Notwithstanding the cost (both financial and environmental), we all know the real truth: food on airplanes is mostly pretty wretched stuff. To add insult to injury, now we have to spring for it.

I was pondering this dilemma awhile back, and my wool-gathering turned from the destination to the journey, and what, exactly, I’d pack in my Lunchsense lunchbox for the trip.  I realized I had a few constraints, as follows – all the food would have to be:

1) Relatively non-perishable since the FSA would confiscate the ice pack (although we CAN pack ice in the drink bottle, then dump it out before boarding the plane, then get more ice on board, if absolutely necessary);
2) Lacking in any liquids or gels in quantities over 3 oz.;
3) Free of un-neighborly foods like allergens (i.e. nuts) or really aromatic stuff like, oh, limburger; and most of all
4) A meal that will be the utter envy of my cabinmates. A meal that will make the security guards that x-ray the lunch box stop the machine and stare in awe. A meal that will have passengers climbing over seat backs to get at it.

I realized at this point I needed professional help.

I needed a chef.

Enter good friend Andy Roybal, who took my constraints and weighed in with this response:

I would not worry about the temperature control because food has a 4 hour window in which it is safe and you would want some of the items to come up to room temp for better flavor.
The menu:
Rice is out because cold rice sucks but I would do Inari Nigiri – Sweet Rice wrapped in Fried Tofu Skins, it is normally served cold and three pieces would fit nicely into one of your containers. Along with that I would have a container of Soba Noodle Salad (again served cold) with julienne Green Onion, Carrot, Cucumber, and Red Pepper in a Soy-Ginger Dressing. Then you need some veggies… Soy Beans to the rescue! Edamame seasoned with Hawaiian Sea Salt, Toasted Sesame Seeds and Sesame Oil would be a nice. Here are a few more ideas… no harm in more vegetables, so let’s add a small side of Seaweed Salad available at most Asian stores already prepared. If you still have room… some home made Teriyaki Chicken would be nice… you can eat it cold and that rounds out your meal with a bit of protein. You do get to bring on 3 oz of liquid, so in the small salad dressing container, I would fill it with some Sake!

That would be my meal. I hope that helps… if you don’t like that one I was thinking of a Middle Eastern Lunch of Falafel, Hummus, Baba ghanoush, Tabbouleh, Yogurt Sauce and lots of Pita Bread.

Thank you, Andy. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

(Aside to Andy: The last line about kills me – “if you don’t like that one…” Oh fer heaven’s sake, Andy, have you FLOWN lately? Do you know what you’re up against?)

Can’t you see it? You get on the plane with your tidy little lunchbox, and about midflight when your cabin mates are prying the plastic wrap off their nine-dollar “club sandwiches” and trying to discreetly open little mayonnaise packets with their teeth you pull this feast out, smooth your cloth napkin (included) on your lap, smile graciously to them, and dig in?

So – what would you pack?

To all of us – hang in there, spring’s just around the corner. In the meantime, I’m going to daydream about warmer, drier, beautiful places. Like Eugene in August.

p.s. Stay tuned – Andy says he’ll come up with recipes for the goods above.

p.p.s. And if dreaming about good food isn’t enough, slide on over to foodgawker for a visual, virtual orgy of good food AND good photography.

A Day in the Life
Feb 1st, 2010 by Nancy

BoltI spend many waking hours and more sleeping hours than I care to admit working on the lunchbox biz.

This blog is meant to reflect that which I’m passionate about, including (but not limited to) good food, waste reduction and running a small biz.  I’ll readily admit I’m passionate about at least a few other things (starting with my family), but I’m inclined to keep them clear of my ramblings.   However, I had a day last year that definitely involves my family, and has absolutely nothing to do with the biz, but was so…noteworthy…that it warranted a posting.  It happened on a no-school day – President’s Day, maybe? – and involved not only my crew but a handful of local families.

Happy reading.

The Participants:

Me, home for the day.  I have three kids: Delainey (10), at Kayla’s house; Noah (8) and Evan (6), both  who are at home with me.

Lisa, also home for the day; she’s mom to Hannah (10), at Kayla’s house, and Mason (8), Roscoe (7), and Alex (6), all at home

Kayla (10) and her little brother Kai (5), both at Kayla’s house with Delainey and Hannah

Fisher, Noah’s friend, at his own home

Alexandra (10), friend to all the girls, and her mom Joan, also at their own home

My husband Mike, at the high school where he teaches, overseeing a chess tournament

The action:

Yesterday: Lisa suggests that we take a bunch of kids to the dollar theater to see “Bolt”.  They don’t get many opportunities to go to a movie in a theater, and we’re happy that it’s something ALL the kids might enjoy AND it’s at a very attractive price.

Today, 9:30am: Noah complains of general malaise; I give him a dose of Tylenol, figuring he’s just tapped out from a long weekend and will rally with the extra attention anyway, but the Tylenol won’t hurt.

11am: Lisa calls me – Mason is on task to complete his homework, but has two pages to go and will not be allowed to see the movie until he finishes.  He’s digging in his heels, and Lisa wants to know if I’m going to the movie and could take Roscoe and Alex so they don’t get punished for Mason’s transgressions.  I agree to this; I have no interest in seeing Bolt but (as most parents would know) that doesn’t really have any bearing on the day.   Since I first have to deliver Evan and pizzas to the chess tournament around noon, I can make it to Lisa’s in time to scoop up Roscoe and Alex for a 2:10 movie.

But what about the girls? Delainey wants to get together with Alexandra, and they may want to see the movie, and Hannah and Kayla might also want to see the movie, so I add it up: me+Noah+Roscoe +Alex+3 girls will fit in my van, but only if Evan agrees to stay at the chess tournament, and he’s undecided; I can’t manage a 4th girl, and since Lisa can’t go anywhere until Mason finishes his homework, we’ll have to see if Joan can drive.

11:15: I try to call Joan, but that call is interrupted when my cell phone rings.  It’s Delainey calling from Kayla’s: she wants to know if I reached Joan to confirm her get-together with Alexandra.  I tell her I haven’t yet, but there’s a possibility we’d all be able to go to see Bolt, but it hinges on having another driver, which could be Lisa if Mason comes through or Joan if she and Alexandra are interested.  I agree to call her back when I know more; she has to check with Kayla and Hannah to see if they’re interested in the movie too.

I call Joan back: Alexandra’s itching to get together with Delainey, and any other friends would be just great, and yes, she might be interested in the movie, and yes, Joan thinks she might be able to drive.  I count again: me+Noah+Roscoe+Alex±Evan (pending chess) leaves me room to spare, if Joan could drive all the girls.

11:25: I call Delainey back, and she says they’re all interested in going to the movie.  I agree to stop by Kayla’s house and scoop up all three girls, deliver Kayla and Hannah to Lisa’s house and Delainey to Alexandra’s, do the pizza run to the chess tournament, return to Lisa’s and get the boys at 1:45, then take them to the movie.  Kayla and Hannah, meanwhile, will walk up to Alexandra’s when it’s close to movie time and Joan will drive all four girls.

Easy, easy, easy.

11:35: I call Lisa back, and she says Mason’s definitely NOT going to the movie because three other friends just arrived and Mason is playing with them and she is certain he will not get his homework done in time (and probably won’t care either).  I tell her the plan with the girls, and she figures it will work.

11:40: Fisher calls, wants to play with Noah.  I count again: me+Noah+Fisher+Roscoe+Alex±Evan (pending chess) would still fit, so I offer to take Noah to Fisher’s now, then to swing back to Fisher’s house at 1:30 to get them before I go to Lisa’s to get the other boys to go to the movie.

11:40: I load up the van with the trail-a-bike (so Evan can get home from chess with Mike), and Noah and Evan, and go to Kayla’s house.  I go in to get the girls, and there stands Kai, who also wants to go to the movie.  I count up again: me+Noah+Fisher+Roscoe+Alex+Kai±Evan (pending chess) will still fit in the van, so I say sure, he can play at the Lisa’s while I go deliver pizza to the chess tournament, then I’ll pick him up and take him with everyone else to the movie.  Besides, he’s altogether too cute and good-natured to refuse.  So Noah, Evan, Kayla, Hannah, Delainey, Kai and I pile into the van and we go to Lisa’s house.

11:45: I drop Noah at Fisher’s house with instructions that I’ll return for them at 1:30.

11:50: Joan calls, tells me that she doesn’t think she’ll be able to drive after all because she’ll need to be around for her son’s activities later that afternoon.  I tell her that the girls will probably understand, and perhaps even Lisa will be able to drive if Mason gets his act together.

11:55: I drop off Kayla, Hannah and Kai at Lisa’s house with the promise to return for them at 1:45 and instructions for Lisa and Joan to work out the girls’ transportation to the movie.

12:00: I drop Delainey at Alexandra’s.

12:25: Now with only Evan in tow, I get pizza, go to the high school, and join Mike and the chess team for lunch.

1:15: Evan has decided he wants to go to the movie, so we load up and head to Fisher’s.

1:20: I call Joan to confirm the movie transportation plan.  She doesn’t think it will happen as Delainey and Alexandra have now made other plans.

1:25: I call Lisa to tell her that those girls will not be going to the movie after all.

1:35: I pick up Noah and Fisher, and (after doubling back to get Noah’s glasses) we head for Lisa’s.

1:40: Lisa tells me Kayla and Hannah were so disappointed that they wouldn’t get to go to the movie after all that she has agreed to throw Mason and the two remaining friends of his in HER van and she will deliver Kayla and Hannah to the theater if I will keep tabs on them.  I agree to this.

1:45: I reach Lisa’s house, where Roscoe, Alex and Kai pile into the van with Noah, Fisher and Evan, and we head to the theater, following Lisa’s van with Hannah, Kayla, Mason and his two friends.  After half a morning of scheduling and rescheduling, we are FINALLY ON OUR WAY TO THE MOVIE.

1:55: Noah (in the front seat) announces to me he feels awful and thinks he might throw up.  I check, he looks ashen.  I hand him the trash bag and figure that two hours sitting in a dark movie theater won’t kill him or anybody else.  Ultimately, he does not throw up.

2:05: We arrive at the mall and hike over to the theater ticket window, where we meet Hannah and Kayla, whom Lisa has just dropped off.

2:08: the 2:10 showing of Bolt is sold out.

The two ten showing of Bolt is sold out.


2:09: I call Lisa and tell her the news, and she cracks up.

2:10: Lisa doubles back to the mall, picks up Roscoe, Alex, and Kai.

2:11: I return to the van with Noah, Fisher, Evan, Kayla and Hannah, then on the drive back I try and call Fisher’s house (as I don’t want Fisher to be at our house with Noah in his condition), but as I can’t reach Fisher’s parents I call Lisa and ask to leave Fisher there.

2:25: I drop Fisher off at Lisa’s.

2:35: I drop Kayla and Hannah at Kayla’s.

2:40: Noah, Evan and I return home.  Noah immediately heads for bed.

The necessary postscripts: I’m usually not this cavalier with a sick kid.  Noah was low in the morning, but rallied; he was low on the way to the movie, but the prospect of FINALLY getting to the theater had just too strong a pull on him.

Lastly, these are all wonderful kids and I’m happy to take them to the dollar theater when the opportunity arises.  Most of the time the outing does NOT turn out like this one did.

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….

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