The only thing you need to do is sign up at this free website, answer a few questions (including dietary restrictions), and the rest of the work is done for you. A daily menu is automatically made with items from every food group, and from all the colors of the rainbow. One of DeLahaye’s mottos on the site is “Eat the Rainbow”, a healthy reminder that good health comes from a variety of food and not just sticking to food that is grey in color such as: potatoes, bread, etc. After your menu is complete, you just click a button and your grocery list, divided into food groups for easy shopping, is complete.
DeLahaye started this program when her children started preschool and she realized they were not providing them with snacks and lunches. She said, “It was a shock for me because in France you get a four -course meal provided by the State.”
This meant she was going to have to prepare daily meals for her kids. She decided to see what other parents were putting in their kids’ lunch boxes. “Parents would put a hamburger from McDonald in their kid’s lunch that they would purchase before they got to school in the morning that was completely cold. Some would put peanut butter and jelly or pizza.” Her reaction was, “I thought, ’This is what these kids are eating from morning to night? That is what they are going to live on?’ I knew that I had to figure out what my family was going to eat.”
She ended up purchasing the Tiffin lunch boxes, which are metallic, stackable, portable containers used in India (go to http://www.lunchboxes.com/tiffin-box.html to see an example or purchase) to avoid having the plastic leech into the food. She then needed to figure out what to put into the containers. “I started thinking about the food groups and how I wanted them to eat from each group,” she said. She started by putting in a little bit of nuts, dried fruit, vegetables, sea vegetables, protein, grain, and legumes.
Soon other parents were looking into her children’s lunch boxes, but what is even more amazing is that their classmates started asking their parents for the same lunch boxes and lunches. “The other children would say, ’Why didn’t you give me a carrot,’ or they would say ‘I like tomatoes,’” said DeLaHaye. She continues with, “I realized that peer pressure works both ways. If you have a cool kid with a cool lunch, the other kids are going to want the same thing.”
Parents started calling DeLaHaye asking her questions and asking her to print out lists for them. She decided she would start a website to “help parents who may not have the time to devote to the huge task and the research.”
When asked why she feels so compelled to be involved in this project, she said, “I couldn’t not do it because so many children are sick and shouldn’t be. We can’t rely on the food that is being given at school because the vendors that are providing the food do not have the best interest of the children at heart. They have the best interest of their bottom line– to get rid of food that nobody wants to buy.”
She also spoke about how the lunches are prepared in schools. She said, “When you go to our school there is not even a kitchen. The food comes in frozen and they throw it in a microwave. The cook has a pair of scissors. And that’s at the end of it!”
DeLahaye has many future plans to expand her website making it more interactive and with more information to help parents. “Your food only tastes good if you know everyone is eating well around you,” she said. Her desire to feed her family nutritious, tasty food has led to a wonderful website where everyone benefits.
To see her website, go to: www.snacksandlunch.com.
©2012 Leah Bergman