I once loved to cook. No recipe was too challenging, no ingredient too obscure. It was the best kind of hobby, with a delicious reward at the end of each kitchen experiment.
But then I had kids. And the fun of cooking turned into drudgery. Sometimes I feel like I live in the kitchen, forever fetching a snack for one kid, preparing a meal for another, or searching for something to satisfy my nursing-mama hunger. And there’s usually a tiny person hanging on my legs or emptying the kitchen cabinets in the midst of it.
But the worst of all? Packing lunches and snacks for school and work. We want healthy options, we want variety, and we want the food to be kid-friendly. It’s the last thing I want to think about when I’m exhausted at the end of the night, but it’s also the bane of the morning rush. It’s a lose-lose, really.
But I learned recently that it doesn’t have to be this way! Allow me to share a huge time-saving secret with you — Red Apple Lunch.
After hearing about the company, which was started by a local mompreneur, I logged on to their site to see if this was truly the solution I’d been dreaming of. Their explanation told me everything I needed to know:
“Healthy, homemade school lunches are great, but short on time? Let us do the work! We prep healthy, delicious, seasonal lunches and deliver them to your door.”
Yes, please! After a quick click of the “let’s get started” button, I chose the days of the week I’d want school lunch delivered to my home for my son. Next came the fun part — choosing his meals!
The options are plentiful but not overwhelming. I chose the smallest portion size for my guy (recommended for ages 3-7), and a different main item for each day — a lemon hummus bowl with Iggy’s bread sticks for dipping one day, a turkey and cheddar sandwich another day, and multigrain pancakes with wild Maine blueberries and a side of turkey bacon to really mix things up. For the less adventurous (aka picky eaters) there are plenty of options — sun butter and strawberry spread sammie, or cream cheese dippers. Those with more refined palates might try the orzo and veggie chick mix or the chopp’d chick Caesar salad.
Each day’s lunch comes with a fruit option and a veg option — and all are locally sourced! And don’t forget to choose a treat, like the chocolate chip bite (with whole wheat flour!) or the chocolate/craisin/sunflower seed mix. The sugar-averse can opt for extra fruit instead of the sweet item.
Drinks and snacks are optional add-on items, which I love, since we’re water drinkers. My son tried a few of the snacks, and the power muffins, granola, and yogurt “mix up” were all hits.
The deliveries were seamless, and my son loved the surprises he’d find each day in his backpack. The packaging was easy enough for a 4-year-old to open, and the portion sizes seemed just right (only a few remnants made their way back in his lunch sack each day!). I’m about as frugal as they come, and even I was pleased with the prices, considering the time and stress Red Apple saved me. The single negative I could find in the whole experience was that the sandwiches came crust-less, which is something I’ve never done for my kids. Now here’s hoping they don’t start asking for crusts cut off when I make them a sandwich!
Aside from the obvious benefit of not having to think or worry about packing school snacks and lunch for my kid, we found Red Apple to be a great lunch option for busy non-school days as well. Last week, we played hooky the day before Thanksgiving to start our holiday road trip early. I quickly threw Wednesday’s prepared lunch in my bag for my son to eat in the car. He’s never been a big fan of deli meat sandwiches, but he scarfed the Red Apple turkey and cheese sammie down and raved about it for a good five minutes. And I could rest easy in the front seat knowing he had a box full of nutritious food in his lap to eat at his own pace.
As we head into one of the most hectic times of the year, I love the idea of relying on Red Apple to combat the nightmare that can be packing lunches and snacks. If you’d like to give it a try, the company is offering $25 toward your first week with promo code “Friends Love RAL” (service is currently available in Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Lexington, Newton, Somerville, Wellesley, or Winchester). Pass it along to your friends, too!