Gillian with Gail Simmons

Gillian with Gail Simmons

This is my most recent cooking victory: winning a local pie contest judged by Top Chef Just Desserts Host Gail Simmons. My other cooking victories have been on a much smaller scale and are more along the lines of "Mama! Yum! Your cooking is the best." 

I grew up in a cooking house – literally. My mom is a food writer/cookbook author and ran a small cooking school. My sister and I used to sit on the stairs quietly waiting for the classes to be over to eat whatever was left over. Cooking is part of how I define myself. Now as a mom of three young kids, providing delicious and healthful food for my family is paramount.

I worked in healthcare for almost a decade after getting my MBA and nutrition has always been my passion. When my oldest started going to school all day, it was a big change for all of us. Like many kids, my little lady has loads of opinions about what she does and doesn't want to open for lunch. It can't be too smelly. It can't be too hot. Or too cold. It can't take too long to eat. Sound familiar? 

When kids have a say in their meals, less food is wasted and unwanted.

Getting everyone out the door in the morning is often hard enough. Dealing with the "what's for lunch?" question/argument at the last minute was not going to work in my house. I created a system that became LaLa Lunchbox: every weekend, my daughter picked out what she wanted me to pack in her lunchbox for the coming week. Every lunch had a fruit, a vegetable, a protein and a snack. We shopped from that list so that everything was on hand for the week ahead.  That system evolved into the mobile, educational experience that is now LaLa Lunchbox. She loves having the freedom to choose. I'm happy to oblige.  

These days I have three school lunchboxes to pack. Meal planning has never been more important or more time and money saving!  Thanks to LaLa Lunchbox and LaLa Breakfast, I never have to face uneaten, smelly, unwanted, wasted food. My kids have opinions, preferences and independence, and I'm able to customize the foods available for them to choose at any given time. They are solidly learning to eat healthful, balanced meals and expand their palates. Empowering the next generation of healthy eaters is something to celebrate!

-Gillian Fein