Meal and Snack Planning at the Kids' Fingertips

I love the grocery store. Except when I hate it. My kids feel the same way. There are some weeks that they're chomping at the bit to come with me and other weeks where they're practically offended that I've asked. As I browse the aisles, I think about what's in season and I check out what looks good but I'm also thinking about what *I* want to eat and what *I* want to cook. This week I felt like having chicken thighs for dinner one night. And I was in the mood to make granola and spinach pie. I always keep my kids' preferences in mind when I'm shopping, but as the parent, I make the final decisions about what's in our house (and what's not). 

On weeks that my kids come with me to shop, they're given more freedom to choose what we purchase. Tired of chicken legs? No problem, I'll be flexible. Want those pretzels that we haven't had in a while? Okay. But once I've done the grocery shopping for the week, their choices are limited to what we have. 

meal planning with LaLa Lunchbox
manage items on LaLa Lunchbox

After I shop, I manage the Food Library on our LaLa Lunchbox app and dim out those items that we won't have available for the week. It's a fast process, and it makes their meal planning easier as well. They make food choices based on what's in stock at home. But beyond lunches, my kids have started meal planning for their after school snacks. When all of this is chosen in advance, I can set up their snacks at night so there's (a little) less whining about how very hungry they are the minute they step off the bus. Win-win. 

It's been a system that has been working for me, though on weekends when I'm feeling uninspired, I still hand over the phone *before* shopping instead of after. However your family has chosen to navigate the world of kids and food, finding a system that works for you as the parent is critical. If you're looking for a way to lessen the load of lunches and snacks, check out my top time and sanity-saving tips


The Good Bean: Great Snacks Made with Chickpeas

The Good Bean roasted chickpea snacks

The Good Bean roasted chickpea snacks

I am always on the lookout for simple snacks that are tasty and nut free. As luck would have it, I recently received a delightful box containing several flavors of roasted chickpea snacks from The Good Bean for my family to taste.

In a word: Yum!

Good Bean Chocolate Flavor

My kids were thrilled to open the package and find seven different flavors to try: Sea Salt, Cracked Pepper, Smoky Chili & Lime, Mesquite BBQ, Thai Coconut, Chocolate and Sweet Cinnamon. These definitely satisfy the crunchy snack craving and they were filling too, thanks to fiber and protein. It was fun to see which flavors my kids were drawn to: my 8 year old loved the Smoky Chili & Lime best, my 4 year old loved the Chocolate flavor and my littlest one is pretty much equal opportunity but seems most fond of the Sea Salt flavor. These snacks are particularly wonderful for us because they are produced in a dedicated nut-free facility. My son's school is very strict on the issue, so it has become something that we pay close attention to.

We make our own roasted chickpeas at home from time to time but I would absolutely use these for an added layer of texture. My son specifically requested the Sweet Cinnamon flavor with his yogurt the other day. 

Fruit & No Nut Bar

The Good Bean also sent us some Fruit & No Nut Bars to try. These are not made in a dedicated nut-free facility but they follow Good Manufacturing Processes to address issues of cross-contamination. All 3 flavors are chewy and flavorful without that pasty-bean aftertaste. My favorite was the Apricot Coconut bar - earthy and sweet with a surprising hint of nuttiness, without nuts! Delicious.  

In short, thumbs up for The Good Bean! You can find out where to get them with their Store Locator.

*Full disclosure: these products were sent to me for free but I have not been paid to provide my opinion. We genuinely enjoyed these!

Union Square Farmer's Market

The Union Square farmer's market is one of my favorite places to visit in the City. The people watching is out of sight: some folks stroll through (especially tourists, families and caregivers with young children) and others race through at breakneck speed (like those who work in restaurants and have to quickly get specific ingredients back to the kitchen). 

The people who come to Union Square to sell their foods are uniformly friendly and willing to answer any questions. For example, I spoke with a cheese monger about why his cheeses were not organic. His animals are not fed hormones ever but if an animal gets sick, it is given antibiotics to get well. During that time, the milk from that animal is never used in the production of cheese but because of the administration of antibiotics, his cheeses are not able to be labeled organic. 



My kids love going to the farmer's market to see what's in season and to have little snacks along the way. On our most recent visit, the kids and I devoured over a pound of sugar snap peas and a pint of super sweet tiny strawberries. 


Here's just a small sampling of our farmer's market bounty. I'm going to use the rosemary later this week to season a white bean salad with roasted garlic. We'll fly through those eggs in a day or two (most likely scrambled) and the rest of the produce will be eaten raw. It's really hot outside today so I'm particularly excited to have fresh, wonderful foods that don't require my oven. 

Peeled Snacks - A Delicious New Addition to the LaLa Lunchbox Food Library!

LaLa Lunchbox has partnered with Peeled Snacks and now, you and your hungry little monsters can easily add their delicious, wholesome products into your lunchboxes every week!

I've been singing the praises of Peeled Snacks since I discovered them. And here's something to sing about: Peeled Snacks makes "gently dried fruit" with no refined sugars, no preservatives, no added oils -- TOTALLY up my alley. My kids are crazy for these too and we have bags stashed in the car and the pantry all the time. 

Peeled Snacks products are now part of the LaLa Lunchbox Food Library!

Peeled Snacks products are now part of the LaLa Lunchbox Food Library!

The products quickly became a staple in my home. Then I started seeing them everywhere I looked - at all of my favorite grocery stores, at Starbucks and even at Duane Reade. There's one in particular, Much Ado About Mango (dried mango) that we have to buy in bulk from Amazon because everyone in my family (everyone with teeth, that is), gobbles it up. We manually added it to our LaLa Lunchbox food library many months ago and Peeled Snacks became a regular feature in my daughter's lunchbox.

Today I am thrilled to announce our partnership with Peeled Snacks so that families can now choose their products as part of a healthy lunch using LaLa Lunchbox. Noha Waibsnaider, Founder and CEO of Peeled Snacks says she "founded the company to fill a critical void in the snack market and offer organic fruit snacks that are delicious, naturally nutritious and healthy. I believe people should have healthy options that are made of real food and are available within their lifestyle.” That's something we can all get behind.

I'm proud to welcome Peeled Snacks into the LaLa Lunchbox family to help raise a generation of informed, empowered, healthy kids.

* Current LaLa Lunchbox users can access these new Food Library products by updating the app on the App Store.