Go Back to School with Dairy

Healthy School Lunch Ideas

Sometimes it’s hard to say those three little words: back to school. But yes, it’s time to start gearing up for another school year. It’s time when you start thinking about which back-to-school clothing sale to hit; should you go with college-ruled or wide-ruled notebooks; and when can you possibly squeeze a sports physical into the schedule. You make all these decisions because they help your kids get back into the swing of things, and ultimately help them succeed in their endeavors. But one of the most important factors of classroom success is what your children eat, starting with breakfast -- which is why a healthy food plan should also be on your back-to-school to-do list.

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Research shows that when kids eat a nutrient-rich breakfast, they tend to perform better in school. A recent study by the National Dairy Council, American College of Sports Medicine, American School Health Associations and the GENYOUth Foundation revealed that kids who fuel up with a healthy breakfast and are physically active behave better in class, pay more attention, recall more information and score higher on tests.

But nutrition moves (read: mooooooves) beyond breakfast. It’s also important that children eat healthy during other snack and meal times. Luckily,creating a delicious and nutritious food plan is easier than you think. Including nutrient-rich dairy foods like low-fat and fat-free milk, yogurts and good-for-you cheeses ensures your kids are well on their way to meeting the three recommended daily servings of dairy food. Not only do dairy foods offer nine essential nutrients, they are also affordable -- which means your healthy meal plan is also budget-friendly.

Simply, healthy students are better students, and keeping their minds as sharp as their pencils this school year is easy with dairy. Here are a few tips to help your kids fuel up for a successful school year:

  • Stock up on ready-to-eat breakfast foods like cereals, yogurts, fruit and milks because some mornings require a Grab-n-Go solution.
  • Pack lunches the night before. String cheese, low-fat yogurt or pudding and flavored milks are perfect lunch time fare.
  • Many Washington schools offer breakfast and lunch programs, and dairy is almost always on the menu! If this is a better option for your family, be sure to sign up!
  • Lead by example. Kids are giant copycats, and when they see you eating dairy or making time for breakfast, they will, too.
  • Add dairy whenever possible to up the nutrient levels of your regular foods: top granola with a spoonful of fruit-flavored yogurt; use milk in eggs or oatmeal; add a dollop of low-fat sour cream or plain yogurt to your favorite Mexican dish; or sprinkle cheese on a hot soup.
  • Create a dinner plan at the beginning of each week, so you’re not scrambling for ideas the night of.

For more dairy recipes visit akeyingredient.com.