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When my 3-year-old daughter started pre-K, there was one thing we never saw coming: the heartbreak of having a child who won’t eat her packed lunch.

At first it wasn’t a problem. I develop and test recipes for Savory, so it was fun to come up with creative ideas based on the foods she gobbled up at home. 

I made ham and cheese hearts to put on crackers. A sandwich cut into the shape of a Christmas tree. Creatively reworked dinner leftovers. I dutifully packed them all, only to unpack them, untouched, at the end of the day. 

Exasperated, I turned to my online parent’s group. Not only did I learn that I am not alone, but other parents were more than willing to spill the details on what had worked for them. 

The biggest revelation? Letting my daughter choose her own lunch, based on nutritious foods. They also suggested easy, kid-approved recipes that can be made with common supermarket items, like Chicken Meatballs with Rice and Peas and a Turkey, Egg, and Cheese Waffle Sandwich

As school starts this year, the lunch box section of my pantry is ready for action. It’s heavy on a mix-and-match lineup of healthy and fun foods and supplemented with fresh produce and some trusty freezer favorites, like mini frozen pancakes for Strawberry Cream Cheese Pancake Stacks 

My daughter’s verdict? Thumbs-up—most of the time, at least. But especially when it comes to a Pizza Sandwich 

   

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