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A few weeks ago, I was talking to a neighbor about preschool lunches. The topic came up because I had come home to get my daughter’s lunch and bring it back to school, because I’d forgotten it. Again. This happens to me all the time.

“You wouldn’t think bringing lunch to preschool would be such a big deal!” my neighbor laughed. She has a preschooler, too, so she understands.

But it really is. It’s a pain. First, I have to make lunch. No, wait. First I have to have enough groceries to make lunch. This means I have to remember to think about what foods my daughter is likely to eat for lunch while I’m grocery shopping. Which ought to be easy, but considering that you lose brain cells every time you give birth and progressively for every year you raise your children (I’m sure this is true. I read a study on it somewhere. Really), it’s a lot harder than it ought to be. I get distracted in the grocery store. I get caught up in the free samples of coffee and the two-dollar Trader Joe’s wine, and pretty soon I’m checking out of the store with lots of pasta and fruit but no bread for sandwiches. And then I go to make lunch and realize that I also forgot grapes. And cheese. And everything that she likes to eat other than the jello my husband bought as a special treat. So that’s what she gets for lunch.

Then, I have to remember to make her lunch. I never, ever have the time or energy to do this the night before, so I have to do it in the morning. While also pottying the baby, getting dressed, getting the baby dressed, getting my daughter dressed, helping my husband find his keys, and brushing everyone’s hair. (Okay, just my daughter’s and mine. Neither my husband nor the baby have any hair. Fortunately.)

I can’t even count the number of times my daughter has been late to preschool just because I was making her lunch. See the picture at the top of this post? That’s what my kitchen looks like when I’m trying to make lunch. It’s not pretty.

Finally, I have to remember to bring her lunch. For some reason, this is the hardest part. It’s like once I’ve made the lunch, I feel like it’s done. So at least half the time, I leave it sitting there on the counter. We get to school and I realize she has no lunch. Then I have to drive back home, get the baby out of the car without waking him, go inside and get the lunch, get the baby back in the car without waking him, drive back to school, get the baby out of the car without waking him, bring the lunch inside, get back in the car without waking the baby, and drive home. At which point the baby is pretty much definitely awake and cranky because he didn’t finish his nap.

All of which is to say, I love the fact that my daughter likes staying at preschool for lunch, but I really hate packing her lunch.

I can’t imagine doing this for the next twelve years. But in a lot of schools, the alternative to packing lunch is pink slime. Gross.

The good news? Here in Atlanta, we now have another option.

Even better news? You can win a whole week of said better option.

The day after I was complaining to my neighbor about packing preschool lunches, I got an email from Katy Winthrop of Bees Knees Organics asking if I’d be interested in writing about her business on my blog. When she told me what she does, I knew that this giveaway was meant to be. Because she had the answer to the problem I’d been complaining about just the day before.

Seriously, Katy’s business is brilliant. She delivers lunches to your kid’s school. This includes not just preschools but elementary schools too. And the lunches she makes aren’t just organic. They’re made from scratch, locally-sourced, and designed to be fun and kid-friendly as well as healthy. In a word, these lunches are amazing.

Here’s Katy selecting broccoli at the farmer’s market. And yes, she can really get your kid to eat broccoli.

Katy gave me and my daughter a week of lunches so I could try them and write about them for this giveaway. I have to admit, I was a little nervous. My daughter is a picky eater, and she’s very attached to routine. Her routine involves peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches for lunch, and even though that’s her favorite food, she rarely eats much of it (if any of it) at school. Generally by the time I pick her up at 2:00, she’s kind of an emotional mess because she hasn’t eaten anything. But she eats her sandwich in the car, and by the time we get home five minutes later, she’s back to her normal self. So I was worried that even though she picked out what meals she wanted, she still wouldn’t eat them when it came down to it.

But apparently a lot of Katy’s clients are picky eaters. (What? Preschoolers? Picky eaters? Who knew?) I will admit, Anastasia didn’t like all of the food. But on Monday when I picked her up, I noticed a big difference. She wasn’t melting down. She was calm and relaxed. And this never happens at the end of the day. I peeked in her lunchbox to see if I could figure out why. As I expected, there was a lot of food left. But then I saw what was missing: she had eaten the turkey. She’d eaten protein! No wonder she was in a better mood.

And she didn’t want to eat more in the car. Even though she didn’t eat all the lunch, she wasn’t hungry when I picked her up. That’s a first.

Over the course of the week, Anastasia and I had a chance to try a lot of Katy’s meals. Although she didn’t love everything, there were several items she couldn’t get enough of. Admittedly, most of her favorite items were desserts, but when “dessert” is a bowl of fresh organic berries, or banana bread sweetened with honey, I’m actually pretty happy with her subsisting on dessert. And I loved just about everything. Especially the berry parfait. And the apple slices with yogurt. And the strawberry lime cups. And the banana bread. Wait, I guess I mostly loved the desserts too. Oh, but I was also amazed by the tomato and melon salad (and I usually hate melons, but they are amazing with tomatoes! Who knew?). And the hummus and veggie dip (that is really good hummus). And the mango cobbler. Oh, and did I mention the turkey pesto? That made me want to make my own pesto. Either that or buy Katy’s by the jar.

And it’s all made from scratch! Here are chickpeas, ready to be made into hummus:

So by then end of last week, I was just about ready to sign up for lunches every day. But Katy has since made her service even better (yes, she did that within the past week). She revamped her menu system (you can see it here), so now you get to put together all the items for your child’s lunch every day. So if you have a kid (like mine) who wants to eat the exact same sandwich every day, no problem. You can pick the same items every day. You can also encourage your child to try new foods. You have total control over the whole menu.

In addition, Katy has just switched to using biodegradable sacks when she packs the lunches. She’s also switched all of the containers within the lunch to be either edible or biodegradable (so the hummus, for example, comes in a mini bread bowl). The schools return the biodegradable containers, and Katy composts them in her worm farm. She’s working on developing worm farms for the schools where the kids can compost the sacks themselves–eliminating waste and letting the kids see the loop of earth to table to earth. My daughter’s school would love this.

But even if these lunches weren’t so earth-friendly and healthy, I would still think they were brilliant. Because they’re so incredibly flexible. Right now Bees Knees delivers to a selection of preschools, but if you want your school added, all you have to do is sign up. Register through the site, and then call to get your school on the list, and you’re done. Once your school is added to the route (or if your school is already on the route), you can order meals anytime–up to 5 pm the evening before. So if you couldn’t make it to the grocery store today because it was raining and your baby was napping in bed and you just couldn’t face the thought of going out–no problem. Get online with your preschooler, order lunch for tomorrow. Done. Or, if you think this whole idea is so awesome that you decide to never bother with packing lunch again, you can go online right now and order meals up to six weeks in advance. Again–done. Finally, Katy will feed you as well if you want. Yes, you read that right–some parents order lunches for themselves. Your lunch is delivered to your child’s school along with the kids’ lunches, and you pick it up and take it to work when you drop your child off. Oh, and of course Katy will also take care of any allergies your child has: the whole kitchen is nut-free, and she offers gluten-free options and customized allergen-free menus. Read more about Bees Knees Organics here.

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Would you believe that this whole service only costs $4.75 per meal? Not to sound like an infomercial or anything, but I’m still kind of in shock that Katy can offer this so inexpensively. If you just can’t wait to sign up, do it here.

Better yet: you can win a whole week of these lunches. Right now Katy is only delivering inside the perimeter, but you don’t have to be at a school that’s currently participating–anywhere inside the city is fine. (Soon she’ll be delivering to the suburbs as well, so watch for updates if you’re OTP!) But for now, if your child’s school is anywhere ITP and you want to win these lunches, enter below!

 



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Disclaimer: I received a week of lunches for myself and my daughter as part of this giveaway. All opinions, however, are entirely my own!