Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren McMahon.
Lauren, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I spent fifteen years working in corporate America in various sales planning and strategy roles, but I always felt like I was in the wrong place doing the wrong thing. I just hadn’t found my “thing.” After I had my two children, the demands of trying to balance work and family stopped me in my tracks. I decided to quit my job and do some big picture thinking about who I was, what I wanted, and how I could better meet the needs of my family. But life sent me a curveball. I was diagnosed with a brain tumor the day after I resigned. I had already committed to steering my life in a different direction, but the universe sent me a big exclamation point on that commitment. Luckily, my surgery and recovery went well, and I came out of the experience mostly unscathed. With my physical health back in place, I spent the next few months soul searching. I decided that I needed to do something that would push me wayyyy out of my comfort zone, something that would really challenge me. And what better way to challenge yourself than to start your own business?
I wrote down all the challenges I was having as a parent and I kept coming back to the daily question of how to feed my kids well. I’ve always been knowledgeable about nutrition and loved cooking. But even with those tools in my pocket, I still felt like I was failing. Packing lunch for school was a big thorn in my side. There’s a lot of school lunch inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest, but I didn’t have the time to browse, choose ideas, and plan out the week. I wanted a school lunch solution. I built Lunch Unpacked to be that solution.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Building a business has been a blast. But it is a big game of not knowing what you don’t know. I came to it with a deep background in forecasting and sales analysis, but I had never built a brand identity, created a website, or directed a photoshoot. I face new challenges every day and have to figure out how to solve them. After years of stagnation, I find the process of learning and skill-building to be thrilling.
The biggest challenge is having limited resources. I don’t have a business partner and I’m funding the business from savings. That means as challenges come up, I need to make tough choices about where I should invest and where I should DIY it. Even after choosing to invest, finding the right resource to invest in can be tricky. Only time will tell if I made the right choices.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Lunch Unpacked – what should we know?
Lunch Unpacked is a subscription-based meal planning service for kid’s school lunch. We deliver a weekly guide of nutritionist-approved snacks and lunches which include a consolidated shopping list, daily prep guide, nutritional information for each meal, and printable lunch box notes. We are different from other meal planning services or school lunch blogs in a few ways.
First, we provide a solution, not just inspiration. Packing school lunch is a pain point for most parents–we run out of ideas, fall into food ruts, and don’t have the time to be more planful. Lunch Unpacked solves this by taking meal planning off parents’ plates. Our shopping lists provide exact measurements needed for up to four kids, we provide prep steps for each day of the week, and we even have inspirational lunch box notes you can print out and pack to help brighten your child’s day.
Second, we deliver a roadmap for truly balanced lunches. Our nutrition criteria has been developed by a registered dietitian nutritionist and adapted from recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Dietary Guidelines for Americans. We offer three age-based plans to ensure that we offer appropriate portion sizes and nutrition by age. We offer alternatives for common allergies (e.g., nuts and dairy). We encourage the consumption of more plants and fewer processed foods.
Finally, we cater to how kids really eat while also trying to push their palates forward. We include four to six components in every lunch, packed bento box style, to ensure there is a wide range of options each day. We often makeover classic kids’ favorites, like PB&J, with more wholesome ingredients. Finally, we occasionally include packaged snack food that kids love to ensure their interest. But on the flip side, we aren’t afraid to include small quantities of less common ingredients, like seaweed snacks or pomegranate seeds, to expose them to new flavors. Overall, we tried to strike the right mix of familiar and unfamiliar foods.
At our core, we want to inspire the next generation of healthy eaters while giving parents relief from the daily question, “What’s for lunch?”
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My friend, Michelle, was pivotal in my choice to take this leap. We had only known each other for a few months, but found ourselves in a similar stage in life–disenchanted with our jobs, trying to raise two small children, uncertain of our life’s direction. We met almost weekly during my period of soul searching and talked about how we got to this point in our lives, what our dreams were, and what our options were to move forward. These talks were truly transformational. If I hadn’t met her at this point in my life, I’m not sure I would be where I am today. I feel so lucky that I had a partner to go on this emotional journey with.
- 1 Month Plan – $12
- 3 Month Plan – $30 (or $10/mo)
- 6 Month Plan – $48 (or $8/mo)
- Website: https://www.lunchunpacked.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @lunchunpacked
Tori Time @tori.time