Grains & Dairy – A Super Meal Pairing 

Dairy and grains individually are excellent sources of nutrients and add important nutritional balance to any meal; but together they create the ultimate combo for both healthiness and taste.  

Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products contain essential daily vitamins and minerals including protein, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and many more. The top three least consumed nutrients amongst Americans are calcium, vitamin D, and potassium; however, dairy, specifically milk, is the leading food source that provides these missing nutrients. Dairy foods make up half of the calcium and vitamin D being consumed in daily diets.  

The risk of several chronic diseases can be reduced by consuming dairy, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Due to the health benefits of dairy, it is found throughout dietary patterns from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), American Heart Association (AHA), Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), National Osteoporosis Foundation, and the Mediterranean diet.  

Grain-based foods complement dairy products by combining key essential nutrients needed in a healthy diet. Grain-based foods provide recommended amounts of fiber, B vitamins (folate, thiamin, niacin), zinc, iron, magnesium, and more to complete the necessary nutrients our bodies require. The largest source of fiber in the American diet comes from grains! Consuming dairy products alongside grain-based foods providess the well-rounded nutritional balance needed in your day-to-day diet. 

Numerous food favorites consist of grain and dairy pairings due to their ability to provide complementary taste and textures, as well as vital nutrients, all in one. Let’s dive into some great grain and dairy pairings for every meal. 


 A household favorite – cereal and milk! Numerous cereals offer the recommended serving of grains, and the addition of milk makes a quick, nutritionally balanced, breakfast in a pinch. It’s important for children to get calcium and iron for their growing bones, so this is the perfect way to get their day off to a great start. Yogurt and granola are an easy option for those craving something beyond their usual bowl of cereal. You can even switch it up by making your favorite pancakes, waffles, or French toast on the weekend! 

Lunch & Dinner 

The options of pairing grains and dairy together for lunch and dinner meals are endless – sandwiches, quesadillas, grilled cheese, pasta dishes, casseroles – you name it! Pizza is also a good choice, as it’s a convenient way to incorporate vegetables and protein alongside grains and dairy to create a well-balanced meal. For those on the Mediterranean diet, check out recipes such as this Greek chicken tzatziki wrap or Caesar salad sandwich with avocado – both packed with nutrients found in grains and dairy products.  


Consuming snacks with both grains and dairy throughout the day can help you meet the daily serving of each food group without even realizing it. Many go-to snacks consisting of your favorite grain and dairy pairings include crackers and cheese, chips and dip, and these perfect portion mac n’ cheese casserole cups


Who said desserts can’t be nutritious? Desserts are a great way to end the day, and if you’re looking for something more unique to try, check out these fun desserts to make at home: strawberry shortcake, pumpkin swirl cheesecake bars, no-bake tropical cheesecake parfaits, or these cocoa-berry yogurt tarts.   

When it’s time for your next meal, take the time to consider what food groups you are consuming. Incorporating dairy and grains into any meal can be quick, easy, and delicious, and you can’t beat the benefits it will give to your body.