I can’t decide how I feel about this. Billed as “a fun and easy way for kids to plan and pack lunches with their parents” and something that “empowers your kids, teaches them to make smarter food choices and helps them learn about advance planning,” LaLa Lunchbox is a $1.99 app that adds a layer of gamification to the simple — yet occasionally quite aggravating — act of planning your kids’ lunches.
If your kids are anything like mine (and judging from the fact that LaLa Lunchbox is a thing, most of them probably are), getting them to eat their lunch (or breakfast, or…I need a drink) can be a complicated process that involves bribery, treachery, and pleading. There are a million excuses for not emptying one’s lunchbox, and you’ll hear them all. However, unless you’re some kind of meal dictator, I sort of doubt that “because you didn’t ask me what I wanted” is one you’re going to hear very often.
So yeah, I’m sort of ambivalent about this. Gamification tends to be helpful when you’re trying to con yourself into completing an unpopular task or fulfilling a long-term goal, but eating generally doesn’t fall into either of those categories, especially when you’re young enough to depend on a parent to make your meals. I’m sure it’ll make choosing meals more fun for kids, but will it make kids more likely to eat them? I have my doubts. My daughter’s favorite excuse is “I didn’t have enough time.” I don’t see how personalizing a virtual lunchbox with “fun monsters and colors” will change that.
On the other hand, what the hey, it’s $1.99. If you’re desperate to stuff some lunchtime calories in your little one and you have an iGadget at home, it might be worth a splurge. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.