Some shipping advice: Send college care packages early in the week to avoid having them stuck in the campus mailroom over a weekend. Wrap baked treats in safer PVC-free plastic wrap (made from number 4 plastic), then in aluminum foil. PVC-free plastic wrap is best since additives in PVC have been linked to a higher risk of birth defects and hormone-related cancers; in addition, its production can be hazardous to workers and the environment. Cookies can go into a tin or into reusable containers made from dishwasher- and freezer-safe number 5 plastic. Place a layer of wax paper between layers of cookies. Put all the goodies into a sturdy cardboard box. If you’re not reusing a box you already have, look for a shipping box made from 100 percent—or at least a high percentage of—post-consumer recycled material. Cushion the contents with yesterday’s comics section and other newsprint to prevent them from jostling during shipping. And tell the recipient to bring the containers back for reuse the next time they come home (or to use them to help organize their messy dorm room).
When we’re living away from home for the first time, we could all use a little long-distance TLC. By sending college care packages filled with homemade edibles instead of packaged goods, you not only show you care, you avoid sending the unneeded sugar, salt, and megacalories that come with processed food. Read on for some suggestions from the Rodale Recipe Finder, and don’t forget to tuck in a handwritten note!
#1: Honey Granola with Fruits, Seeds, and Nuts. Most college kids have a mini-fridge that can house milk or yogurt they can add to this mix for a quick, healthy breakfast or late-night snack. Tailor the ingredients for this homemade granola to your child’s preferences.
#2: Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Snack Cake. A loaf cake holds up really well during shipping, and can function as breakfast on a rushed morning. This version contains whole grain pastry flour and 1½ cups of nutritious zucchini, but if your son or daughter is a banana bread fan, here’s a great alternative. In either case, the young scholar can satisfy his or her sweet tooth without OD'ing on sugar.
#3: Crunchy Peanut Squares. These squares featuring popcorn, crispy cereal, peanut butter, and chocolate chips are sure to be devoured. Keep fat and calories under control by using air-popped organic popcorn. "Microwave popcorn" isn't necessary; you can pop regular kernels in the microwave without any oil or chemical coating required.
#4: Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies. No care package would be complete without homemade chocolate chip cookies. These are made healthier with oats and whole wheat flour, but you can keep that secret to yourself.
#5: Tex-Mex Snack Mix. For snackers who like it hot, the chili powder, cumin, and oregano that spice up in this version of the classic snack mix are bound to make it a hit. Another option? Try this tangy mustard-glazed version.