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Another school year and another year of packed lunches. I wish my daughter ate at school more often, but she would rather eat a meal from home.

All three of my kids were picky eaters when they were younger, and I was as well. When my son was a toddler, he ate nothing but noodles (no butter, no sauce, just noodles) and chicken nuggets for two years.

I learned how to make fruit and vegetable smoothies he would drink to supplement his poor diet. He is now over 6 feet tall and eats whatever food you put in front of him — living proof that picky eating does get better!

I remember my mom packing my lunches when I attended Holz Elementary. She would draw artwork on my lunch bags (pumpkins in October, turkeys in November, etc.) and slip notes in my lunch like “Good luck on your spelling test!”

Thinking back on it, I have no idea how she made time for all of this preparation as she was a school teacher and left the house at 6 a.m. each morning. I am lucky to get the lunches packed each morning and by April, I am begging (bribing) my little one to please eat at school so I do not have to pack her lunch.

Like most moms, I have occasionally purchased those lunch kits in the refrigerated section loaded with preservatives and a side of a candy bar, packed with a huge dose of mom guilt. I feel much better when I pack something made from home that includes protein and fruit.

I do have a few quick and easy recipes that have worked well for my family in packed lunches. I hope they are helpful to you as well.

Sarah Long is the author of the cookbook “College Cooking 101: Fast Food Without a Kitchen.” You can contact her at and follow her on social media on facebook @SarahHLongAuthor, Instagram @CollegeCooking101, and Twitter @SarahHLong1.

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