Episode 2: The Bigger Promise of School Lunch with Catherine McCord
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It’s easy to think about packing school lunch as just another task on our list. We look for tips on how to make it go faster. We seek out ways to urge our kids to get with the agenda (and eat their damn lunch). And put the program on repeat 180 times during the school year. It’s not much fun, but as long as we get through, it’s good enough.
This week, Stacie and Meghan speak to Catherine McCord of Weelicious who inspires us to think about school lunch as more. Not more work, but more freedom for us and more opportunity for our kids. Her tips are more than practical — they actually shift our perspective to the bigger promise of school lunch. Yes, for real.
Healthy Lunches Should Be Fun, Right?!
Perspective Shifts are Nice, But Tips Still Help!
It's true. Deep realizations were had, and if you listen to this week's episodes, we think you may have one too. But of course, we did not philosophize the whole time. We also share plenty of real-life tips.
Catherine told us about her favorite lunch box (the Rover from PlanetBox), ways that she changes up healthy foods to make them more appealing, her formula for making sure that every lunch is nutritionally well-balanced without having to reinvent the wheel everyday, and of course, how she keeps it fun.
Because in all seriousness, fun is key.
Give It Up to The Kids
Catherine also told us that she keeps a white board in her pantry where the kids write down their current favorite school lunch foods and snacks. That way, she always has an up-to-date grocery list of foods she knows her kids will eat. Take a look (this is really from her pantry!):
Your Mindset Is the Real Game Changer
But even with all these helpful tips, we know that the real game changer is shifting your mindset. And that's what Catherine is so great at helping people do. In fact, she even inspired a major aha moment for Stacie and Meghan, both of whom think about school lunch for their kids and for work.
This week's conversation gets to something new and deeper that maybe you haven’t thought of before. We don't just talk about the connection between healthy lunches and improved concentration and performance, because we know that you guys are already aware of that connection.
We also talk about the power of sending kids to school with healthy foods while we're not around to oversee what they're eating.
Can packing a healthy school lunch foster autonomy? Can it empower kids to to develop a relationship with healthy food on their own terms? Can it set off positive peer influence?
If so, those are a whole lot of great opportunities that a healthy lunch box can create for our kids.
If so, it might be worth shifting out mindset. Even if just a little.
One Potato is the first organic meal delivery service made with families in mind. Each week, One Potato delivers semi-prepared ingredients like chopped veggies, prepped sauces, and sometimes even cooked, shredded chicken that come together to make meals that both kids and parents love in no time flat.
Each week, you can choose to receive 2 or 3 meals from 10 options, including gluten- and nut-free choices, and you can customize meals to your family’s size. Also, every meal comes with tips on how to encourage kids to try new foods. Genius!
To learn more about One Potato, visit onepotato.com and use the promo code FEED30 for 30% your first box!
If you follow Stacie on social media, you know that she's a huge fan of Elmhurst. Because when you're a food writer who feeds a reluctant dairy-free kid who misses chocolate milk, you get pretty serious about finding the healthiest and most delicious plant-based milks on the market. And if you ask her, Elmhurst is it.
Their plant-based based milks have more nutrition and whole grains than other leading brands and are made without gums, emulsifiers, or carrageenan. Elmhurst nut milks have 4xs the nuts and nutrition compared to other leading brands, and their oat and brown rice milks have a whopping 20 grams of whole grain per glass.
It's pretty amazing, especially given how delicious every variety is. In fact, even Stacie's younger son — who can drink cow's milk until, well, the cows come home — is obsessed with the Milked Peanuts with Chocolate. Good thing all the varieties come packed in shelf stable packages that keep in your pantry.
If you want to stock up like Stacie, use the code HUNGRY for 20% off your next order at Elmhurst1925.com.
What We’re Digging
This week, Stacie talked about the value of having spent the last three weeks alone with her husband while her boys were at sleep away camp. Of course she missed them dearly, but it’s been a profound reminder of how important it is to find time to take care of both herself and her relationship.
So, with that, on their last day alone before picking the boys up, Stacie is digging her favorite cocktail of the summer, a fabulous sip she had at Sarma restaurant in Boston made with grilled nectarine vodka, Aperol, rhubarb, sumac, and lemon.
Here’s to raising a glass to the hard work that is parenting and setting the intention that we’ll make time for ourselves and our relationships in this school year ahead.
Meghan’s digging something a bit more practical this week, but it’s a time saver, so it all comes around! After a few crazy busy weeks, instead of grabbing the kids and hitting the market, Meghan grabbed her phone between meetings and ordered groceries using the grocery delivery service, Instacart. And she’s writing a permission slip for the rest of you busy parents to do the same, especially if you’re contending with the beginning of the school year.
And, no, it’s not just a lazy shortcut. Services like Instacart can actually be a useful service that can save time and money too! Because you stick to your shopping list, avoid impulse purchases, and don’t have to contend with kids begging for that special treat you didn’t plan on buying. Honestly, it’s a win-win some weeks.
Try This At Home
Give them a second chance at lunch.
When your kid gets out of school famished, instead of immediately offering up a typical after-school snack, encourage them to take a “second chance” at lunch first. Then, once all the good lunch foods you packed get gobbled up, whip out those granola bars and snack chips.
Just remember: If you decide to give this a go, you’ll need a great ice pack to ensure that those fruits and veggies are still edible after sitting all day. Catherine’s favorite ice pack is from PlanetBox.