When back-to-school means long-distance travel for children or grandchildren attending boarding school or college, home-cooked food becomes a precious commodity. It might not be practical to ship these young scholars their favorite meatloaf or eggplant Parmesan, but the recipes featured below are all easily packaged and mailed, giving far-flung students a much appreciated taste of home. Although these recipes don't require refrigeration, if you're mailing perishable foods, remember to use frozen gel packs or dry ice and ship them overnight so they will stay fresh until stuffed into the mini-fridge — or devoured upon delivery.
1. Cinnamon Bubble Buns by Flo Braker: Braker's loving family housekeeper would send her these whimsical buns as care packages when she studied at the University of Michigan. Without the glaze, they ship well and are flavored with a homey blend of vanilla, cinnamon and butter. Per serving: 261 calories, 9g fat, 41g carbohydrates, 4g protein, 1g fiber
2. Honey Holiday Cookies by Michele Urvater: These cookies are made a month in advance, then stored for their flavors to blend and the texture to soften, making them ideal to pack and mail cross-country. Make an extra batch to feed the whole dorm! Per serving: 143 calories, 3g fat, 29g carbohydrates, 2g protein, 1g fiber
3. Really, REALLY Fudgy Brownies by Regan Daley: These keep at room temperature for up to five days, well wrapped in plastic. The combination of unsweetened and bittersweet Dutch-processed cocoa makes these truly chocolatey. Per serving: 220 calories, 13g fat, 26g carbohydrates, 3g protein, 2g fiber
4. Happy Trails Mix by Jennifer Carden: Dehydrated fruits are a good alternative to candy, and in this recipe they can be mixed with nuts and cereal of your choosing. They keep in airtight bags for up to two weeks. Per serving: 44 calories, 4g fat, 9g carbohydrates, 1g protein, 1g fiber
5. Best Banana Bread by Anne Byrn: Like many quick breads, this banana loaf is sturdy and will stay moist, wrapped in plastic, when mailed. Using oil rather than butter also keeps it shelf-stable. Per serving: 273 calories, 15g fat, 33g carbohydrates, 3g protein, 1g fiber
6. Easy Homemade Granola by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito: This recipe keeps in an airtight container for up to a week, and it's jam-packed with nuts, dried fruits and toasted honey-soaked oats. Per serving: 184 calories, 7g fat, 26g carbohydrates, 4g protein, 3g fiber
Also of interest: Surviving the boomerangers.
Go to the AARP home page for tips on keeping healthy and sharp, and great deals.