Top ten tasty tips for including dairy in lunchboxes

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Children need plenty of calcium to build strong bones. In fact, almost every cell in our body uses calcium in some way, including our muscles, nerves and heart. If we don’t eat and drink enough calcium-rich foods, our body will take calcium from our bones to ensure normal cell function, which can lead to weak and brittle bones.

The good news is that it’s easy to add more calcium to children and young people’s meals – the magic word is DAIRY!

In 2019 the Foundation was excited to have Saputo Dairy Australia (SDA), join us as our Professional Development Partner. SDA produces, markets and distributes many of the dairy brands you know and love like Devondale, Great Ocean Road, Mersey Valley and more!

Australians receive most of their calcium from dairy foods, and the best and easiest place to pack daily dairy into children’s diets is via their lunchboxes.


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Be sure to involve your children in their lunch preparation. The philosophy of pleasurable food education extends to the home. Children and young people who are encouraged to taste and learn about nutritious, delicious food, will grow to embrace fresh, seasonal flavours and healthy choices. While preparing lunchboxes, ask your children for their suggestions, and involve them in assembling, making and taste-testing.

Looking for inspo? Here are our top ten tasty tips for including dairy in children’s lunchboxes.

1. Layer it!
Deliciously creamy, fruity and crunchy; parfait-style layered yogurt pots appeal to all ages. You can add oats; muesli; toasted seeds; fresh, poached, pureed or dried fruit; coconut; cacao nibs and even a spoonful of nut butter (if nuts are allowed at your school or service). Fruit and yogurt can be prepped the night before. Add crunchy bits and muesli on the day to reduce the sog factor. Lactose-free yogurt is a great option for those with lactose-intolerance.

2. Bake it!
Veggie-packed puffs, pizzas and pastries are the perfect vehicles for all kinds of cheeses – try brie, cheddar, feta, mozzarella and parmesan. Prepare pasties, pinwheels, mini quiches and spanakopita triangles in advance and freeze until required. Defrost overnight in the fridge for a super-fast readymade lunch. Enjoy a family pizza-making session on the weekend, and prepare double for school lunches.

3. Fritter it!
You can turn almost any seasonal veggies into fritters. Add grated parmesan or creamy ricotta to the batter for a dairy boost; and serve with a small tub of creamy yogurt sauce or dip. Our Carrot, Cumin & Herb Fritters contain lots of milk, and are served with a minty yogurt sauce.

4. Wrap it!
Cheese-filled wraps pack an energy punch. Try poached chicken, caramelised onions, shredded cos lettuce, fruit chutney and grated cheddar. Smashed boiled egg with a dash of mayo, grated tasty cheese and baby spinach is another winning combo; as is sliced brie, pickles (or pesto) and salad. Shake up the sandwich rut and get wrapping!

5. Cube it!
Playlunch (morning tea) is a great opportunity for including dairy. Make a kid-sized ploughman-style platter with cubes of firm tasty cheese, a hard-boiled egg, cherry tomatoes, mini gherkins (or tiny cukes) and thinly-sliced baguette served in a bento box.  

6. Grate it!
Who doesn’t love classic zucchini slice packed with grated cheddar? Another favourite with kitchen garden kids is our Silverbeet, Leek & Feta Slice, with a triple dairy boost of parmesan, feta and milk.

7. Beat it!
Muffins are magic. Choose a yogurt or milk-based recipe for optimal dairy goodness. Give savoury veggie muffins a dairy boost by adding crumbled fetta to the mix and sprinkling parmesan on top. Our Seasonal Fruit Muffins are full of yogurt, delicious and freezer-friendly.

8. Blend it!
Smoothies are dairy powerhouses. Add a scoop of powdered milk for a calcium boost. Pour into a resealable yogurt pack or small plastic bottle and freeze overnight so it doubles as an ice pack. Our simple Banana & Berry Smoothie is full of dairy goodness.

9. Dip it!
Yogurt-based dips like tzatziki, served in little pots with veggie crudités, make a super-healthy and yummy playlunch.

10. Crumble it!
Mexican-style rice salads are popular with kids. Add crumbled fetta, and serve with crunchy tortilla chips for scooping. Cheesy tortilla chips are easy to make at home. Cut tortillas or pita breads into triangles, brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and your choice of spices – cumin, smoked paprika, oregano and chilli powder all work well. Scatter lightly with grated parmesan and bake in a hot oven until crisp, about 10 minutes.

Childhood is the best opportunity to build strong bones for life, and peak bone density is reached around age 20-25. Get some delish dairy into those lunchboxes!

More information:

Program and member schools can learn about dairy workers, milk farmers and cows in our Farms & Market Gardens collection, produced with support from Saputo Dairy Australia. Don’t miss the Q&A video with Saputo Dairy Australia suppliers Jody and Susanna Haberle.

Dairy Australia have lots of great resources.

Like to join the kitchen garden community? A kitchen garden membership has all the ingredients you need to create a delicious, fun and rewarding learning experience. Join a community of early childhood, primary school and secondary school educators teaching children and young people how to grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh, seasonal, delicious food. 


Nutritional information sources: Dairy Australia, Department of Health & Human Services, Better Health Channel (State Government of Vitoria).




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