Lunchbox 101: A Dairy Lesson Plan from the California Milk Advisory Board

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School is in session and that means lunches, lots of lunches. Over 79 million kids are back in school this September according to the US Census and that means parents needs to dust off their creative lunch-packing skills to keep the kids happy and well-fed. Nothing says school lunch more than ice cold milk and dairy products. The lunch experts at the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) are offering a lesson plan to inspire healthy, fun school meals the kids will actually want to eat (and their friends will want to share). 

  1. ­Reinvent the Classics: PB&J fatigue? Chances are if you’re tired of packing it, they are just as tired of eating it. Sometimes refreshing the lunch bag just takes reimagining the delivery method. Think wraps instead of sandwiches sliced into festive pinwheel shapes (use flavored cream cheese as a base to hold everything together) or cut out sandwich “stacks” of bread, meats and cheeses with cookie cutters and thread onto a popsicle stick “skewer”.
  2. V is for Vitamins: Active minds and bodies need vitamins and protein to score every day.  Research from the Journal of Child Nutrition and Management shows that children who drink milk with their school lunch have higher intakes of nutrients like vitamin A and zinc, two nutrients which are usually low in diets. Replace foods with high fat or sugar content with healthier, just as tasty options and your kids will never know the difference. Bench the fruit drinks and sodas and send California milk to school. Pack trail mix or Crème Fraiche and berries in place of cookies and snack cakes. Simple switches make long-term changes easy.
  3. Letter in “P” for Protein: Acing a test isn’t all about studying; the brain has to be primed to focus too! According to Psychology Today, eating foods high in protein will help stimulate brain function[1]. On test days, make sure your child’s lunch includes 100% whole grain breads or crackers, low-fat meats and California dairy products like hard cheese or yogurt.  
  4. Planners Rule: Planners are for more than keeping track of homework. Be a planner with lunch and you’ll never have to scramble. Take time over the weekend to bring the kids along to the grocery store. Let them pick out a few healthy items for their school lunches and even let them help plan their weekly menu. Whether they want Turkey Avocado Tuesdays or Fresh Fruit Fridays, your kids will learn important food habits for later in life and will appreciate the extra time together.
  5. Send them in style: While the other kids are trying to trade a mushed banana from their lunchboxes, send your kid to school in style with a smoothie they will guard closely. Blend low-fat California milk or yogurt with fresh fruit and ice and pour into a bright colored thermos to keep it cold until lunchtime. This Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie from provides all the health benefits of dairy in a few super tasty sips.
  6. Dips - what the cool kids eat: Vegetables are an important part of any diet, but kids sometime need a nudge to get them interested. Combat their resistance with healthy flavored dips that are quick and easy to make. Try out a High Protein Ranch Dip from Laura Fuentes at using California Greek yogurt and your kids will bring a new level of cool to the lunchtime crew.

This year leave the lunch time madness behind by hitting the books for fun tips and recipes to keep giving your kids’ lunches straight A’s. Check out "How to pack dairy in a school lunch" by Laura Fuentes of and for lunchbox tip and recipes. Don’t forget to like our tips on and pin your favorite recipes from!

High Protein Ranch Dip

Recipe courtesy of Momables 

For the Mix (makes 4 TB):

  • 2 TB dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp garlic powder


  1. Measure each spice and add into a bowl.
  2. For a powdery like texture, pour mixture in a coffee bean grinder and pulse for 15-20 seconds. 

For the dip:

  • 1 (6oz) container plain Real California Greek yogurt
  • 2-3 tsp seasoning mix according to taste