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Back to school time means packing nutritious lunches that kids will actually want to eat, five days a week! The very thought gives some parents sleepless nights. Not to worry – Real California dairy products make it easy to create lunches that also provide a good and delicious source of calcium and vitamin D, and we have some great suggestions for incorporating dairy throughout the school year.

Lunch Box Tips:

  • The First Lady’s “Let’s Move” program recommends swapping soda for water or skim milk – and the lunch box is the perfect place to do that! Packing a carton of skim milk is a great start to the lunch box. Or tape a couple of coins to the inside of your child’s lunch box and they can purchase milk at school.
  • Cheese is great on a sandwich, but what about pairing it with veggies instead of cold cuts? Check out our recipe for a delicious cheese and veggie sandwich on foccacia. This is a perfect option for tweens and teens whose palates are a little more adventurous. For the elementary school set, try cucumber slices or carrot sticks with soft, spreadable cheese -- a fun alternative to a sandwich every day.
  • Add shredded or cubed cheeses to any salad to add great flavor and texture– making a meal any kid would want to eat. Be sure to package dressing in a small separate container so salads stay fresh until eaten.
  • Cold pizza? You bet! Try melting Real California Mozzarella cheese with a little tomato sauce on a mini pita. Once cooled it makes a great entrée for any lunch box. Top with veggies for extra nutrition.

Snack Tips:

  • Cheese and crackers? How about cheese and sticks? Pack cheese sticks (Mozarella, Cheddar or even Monterey Jack varieties are available) with fat-free pretzel sticks for an afternoon treat with a boost of protein.
  • Pairing cubes of Real California cheese with sliced apple is a great way to get a serving of fruit and also boost calcium and vitamins. Remember to soak apple slices in lemon water to prevent browning. Get creative and use fun, cookie-cutter shapes to cut cheese out.
  • Yogurt is packed with calcium – set up an after-school yogurt bar with lots of topping options – apple cubes, raisins, nuts (if your kids don’t have allergies), granola, toasted coconut, etc.
  • Mix low-fat cottage cheese with salsa and serve with cucumber slice “chips” and baby carrots.

Do you have a tip for including Real California Dairy in the lunchbox or as a snack? We would love to hear it! Send a Tweet to @RealCalifMilk or post it on our Facebook page to let us know.

California Cheese & Vegetable Sandwich