If you follow Produce for Kids on Instagram, you probably saw the LaLa Lunchbox Takeover Tuesday on Jan. 17 hosted by Gillian Fein, creator of LaLa Lunchbox. We had the chance to chat with Gillian and find out what the hype was around her LaLa Lunchbox app and how it can help #poweryourlunchbox.
What inspired you to create LaLa Lunchbox?
LaLa Lunchbox began as a paper project with my daughter when she was 5 years old. She started going to school for a full day and needed a packed lunch. It was important to me not only that my daughter have a balanced lunch to fuel her throughout the day, but also that she enjoyed what she ate.
I wanted to include her in the decision-making process, so I created a sheet of paper with food images in four categories: fruits, vegetables, proteins and snacks. Each week, we sat together while she chose lunches for each day of the following week, and we shopped together from that plan. It worked much better than I had imagined! We never had arguments or even a discussion in the morning about “what’s for lunch” because we had already crafted a plan.
I started getting requests to recreate our well-oiled lunch-packing system for other families and at some point, I decided to take a leap of faith and create an app, so that other families could ease the pain associated with lunch packing and planning.
How do you feel the LaLa Lunchbox App can help kids eat a healthier lunch?
The lunchroom is a social place. It’s important for kids to feel good about the food they’re eating, and having them participate in the food planning process is an excellent way to make that happen. By putting the power of choosing foods into the hands of kids and with a simple, visual design, we’re helping kids to understand the building blocks of a healthy meal. That’s a critical life skill!
How Does the App Work?
The first step in the app is to personalize your virtual lunchbox. Kids (with or without the help of their parents) type in their names and then choose one of our cute LaLa Monsters and a color.
Kids can then immediately begin choosing foods for their lunches. There are four categories of food to choose from: fruits, vegetables, proteins and snacks. When a child sees a food that he wants, he drags it into a hungry monster’s mouth and hears a fun crunching sound. When he is finished selecting the foods for that day, he clicks “done” and moves on to the next day.
Kids can plan a day, a week, a month or longer at a time. They can save favorite meals for quick access later.
Parents can see what their child has planned in list form, which makes packing lunch much easier. They also get immediate access to a grocery list based on their children’s choices, which helps them to stay organized and have the foods on hand to pack lunches.
For families who want to add or remove foods from the library, we’ve made that simple as well. Parents can snap a picture of anything they’d like and add it into the library (this is particularly handy for leftovers), and they can remove items at any time that they don’t want available for any reason.
The alternative way to use the app is this: Do your grocery shopping, manage the foods available to your kids on the app (aka, your virtual fridge and pantry) and let them choose from there.
How do you define success for LaLa Lunchbox?
If the LaLa Lunchbox app helps families in any way with the struggle of lunch packing or conversations around food and health, I feel like I’ve succeeded.