Hi! My name is Emily and I'm a writer, a wife to Nick and mother to two very sweet little girls named Daisy and Ella. We live in a quaint little town outside Philadelphia, PA, with our two black lab sisters.


I started this blog as a way to stay connected with friends and family after Daisy was born and it has now become a home for musings on everything from our favorite family recipes, books, travel destinations and, ultimately, my quest to balance work, life, self-care and family - all while staying grateful. Happy reading!

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Yummy (& Fun!) Meal Ideas for Picky Kids Heading Back to School

August 28, 2018

As we gear up for Daisy’s first full year at school, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to keep her well-fed at school with nutritious meals and snacks she is truly excited to eat. She is very eager to use her new, sparkly turquoise backpack (which she calls her “pack pack”) and her new raspberry-colored lunchbox (which she calls her “bunchbox”) which is a great start - now I just need to make sure what’s inside is as fun as the containers.




I’m aiming to strike a balanced meal every day for Daisy that is comprised of one of each of the following: 

  • One protein or carb portion

  • One veggie portion

  • One fruit portion 

  • One “treat” portion


I've been testing out several varieties of each category over the last 2 weeks to see how they hold up against room temperature (with one cold pack), how easily they pack and how much Daisy likes them. These are the winners so far:


Easy Protein/Carb Options

It isn't reasonable to expect that every week you are rotating food so your child gets a different "entree" portion every day, but, it's possible to rotate every other day without breaking the bank. Making a big batch of something like oven-baked chicken at the beginning of the week helps because it can be distributed among lunch and dinner for kids and adults - serve as tenders for kid lunches and over salad for adults. Pack PB&J every other day and you have some variety in your kiddo's lunchbox.

  • PB&J cut in shapes like stars

  • Pizza, cut into bite-sized pieces

  • Oven-baked chicken with coconut & panko breading with ketchup for dipping

  • Rice cakes with peanut butter or mashed avocado 

  • Pita stuffed with chicken, sautéed veggies and rice

  • Cold cuts and cheese rolled into cones

  • Bowtie pasta salad with bright colored veggies & feta



Easy Treat Portions 

Daisy’s school does not allow any sweets, but, I’ve found that it’s helpful to pack one portion of something she considers a treat to help motivate her to eat the rest of her meal. These are some great options that help quickly fill lunch box and that keep well in the pantry for a long time:

  • Dried apricots (Daisy thinks these are candy!)

  • Dehydrated strawberries, apples, peaches or mangos

  • Almonds

  • Pistachio nut meats

  • Bread sticks

  • Fruit leathers

  • String cheese


Fun Fruit Portions

  • Blueberries on plastic food picks

  • Strawberries with coconut shavings

  • Apple wedges 

  • Stacked fruit slices like apples with kiwi

  • Bananas and peanut butter


Easy Veggie Portions

  • Ants on a log

  • Carrot sticks with red pepper hummus

  • Seed crackers with white bean dip (see below for recipe)

  • Sweet peppers with black bean hummus 

  • Cucumbers with ranch dressing


I've found a few other things to help make lunches more colorful, unexpected and fun!:


Colorful food picks in animal shapes from Cat & Jack

Fun soft freezer packs in neat shapes like rockets and unicorns from Pottery Barn Kids

Sandwich cutters from Cat & Jack in star and heart shapes


I'll leave you all with this, a little recipe I put together a few weeks back that has been a huge hit in our house and would be terrific in a packed lunch:


Trader Joes Three Seed Beet Crackers with White Bean Dip

I’ve learned that my sweet toe-headed picky eater is more likely to engage with food when it’s interactive, so, dipping is everything! This combination is a huge hit in our household - with the adults and with Daisy. The crackers are gluten-free, corn-based rounds in a fun, bright red color flavored with a subtle onion powder and just a touch of paprika. Daisy could eat a whole box. I like to serve these with a super simple white bean dip (whir a can of rinsed cannellini beans in a food processor with a healthy drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, lemon juice and one clove of garlic - plus herbs like parsley or basil if your kids will eat green things!).


Happy back-to-school everyone!




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