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Lunch Box Lovin'

Growing up, I didn't have a cool lunch pail like the other kids; no Muppets or Strawberry Shortcake tin box with the matching thermos for me. Mom said that they rusted too easily and weren't worth the money, so I had to carry a Tupperware lunch box or an insulated cooler bag instead. Although those Tupperware lunchboxes are becoming hot collectibles now, at the time they were the epitome of uncool. Not only did Mom make me carry an embarrassing lunchbox, she always filled it with good, healthy food; no Doritos snack packs, Capri-Sun pouches or Lunchables would ever be found in my lunchbox. Instead, I got egg salad or tuna sandwiches with little cups of homemade Tapioca pudding and other home-cooked wonders. Although it was difficult to appreciate at the time, looking back I see an endless parade of love-filled lunches, including the occasional sappy, hand-written note or surprise message from Mom. In the fourth and fifth grades, Mom even packed me double lunches (especially on egg salad days) because the very tall and intimidating class bully, Verna, thought my Mom's lunches were the tastiest. Years later, when I was home on a break from college, Verna and I crossed paths again in a shopping mall. She sought me out, gave me a big hug, and told me that she still has fond memories of those egg salad sandwiches. I'm proud that my Mom's lunches made an impact not just on her own kids, but on others too.

It seems that showing love to your kids via their lunches is a worldwide tradition that's still going strong. Check out this super-sweet Dad who spends his own lunch hour drawing lunch bags for his two kids (Dana and Dylan) each day. And get a load of this Japanese Mom, who makes the most amazing Bento Boxes for her kids. In Japan, many moms make fanciful Bento Box lunch boxes (like the one shown here) where the meal is dressed up with edible whimsical imagery so kids will be more inclined to eat their food.

As Pascal and I approach our busy season, we have to plan ahead for our own meals, so we headed over to the adult version of lunches and dinners prepared with love, Dinner-a-Go-Go. Each month, owner Mandy Caulder and her team offer 14 entrees that are freshly prepared, using high quality meats, vegetables, herbs and spices. They're packaged to take home and cook immediately (or freeze for later). Winter White Chicken Chili, Smothered Burritos, and Coconut Beef Curry were just a few of the meals we chose to stock in our freezer for those crazy too-hectic-to-cook days. When foodies like me and Pascal endorse a service like Dinner-a-Go-Go, you know it's gotta be good! As Mandy says, it's "real dinner, real easy, real fast". We've yet to eat a Dinner-a-Go-Go meal that we didn't enjoy and Mandy offers a full meal replacement guarantee just in case we ever eat one that doesn't meet our high standards.

If you're looking for a great way to save your time and your sanity this holiday season, then Mandy's your Go-Go-To Girl... (Dinner A Go-Go!, 5424 Oleander Dr, 910-452-2670, Mon-Fri 11am to 7pm).

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