Each weekday morning during the school year for the past two decades, I've stumbled out of bed at dawn, rubbed my tired eyes and confronted the age-old problem parents have wrestled with for generations: how to put together a school lunch that's healthful and nutritious, but tasty enough that it won't get traded for a bag of chips or tossed in the trash like yesterday's crumpled-up math quiz.
If I sound a bit jaded, it's because in the school lunch wars, I'm a battle-scarred veteran. I did the math. In Pennsylvania, there's 180 school days. Multiply that by 13 years, then by five kids, and by the time my twin daughters, the last in the house, graduate in 2014, I will have purchased or packed more than 11,000 school lunches.
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Gretchen McKay is a Post-Gazette reporter and mother of five.