Healthy menu planning

The meals that young children eat in care play a crucial role in their growth and development.

Healthy menus for early childcare centres

Click on the following links to view sample menus and checklists for early childhood education centres that support the nutritional requirements of young children. If you are a childhood educator or a parent, looking at these menus may give you inspiration for ways to improve the nutritional value of foods you offer to young children. If you have found other useful examples of healthy menus or would like to share your own please copy and paste the link to these resources in the comments section.

Find out how early childhood services can support good nutrition for young children through menu planning.

Optional Activity

Imagine you are a Director/Manager of an early childhood education centre. Create a menu for one week at your centre (including all meals).
For main meals aim to include:

  • one serve of meat, poultry, fish or alternative and
  • one serve or bread, cereal or grains at each meal and
  • 1-2 serves of vegetables

For snacks, aim to include:

  • Fruits and/or
  • Vegetables and/or
  • milk, cheese, yoghurt (or alternatives) and/or
  • bread, cereals and grains

Discretionary foods (foods high in energy that contain a high amount of saturated fat, sugar or salt) should not be included on the menu.

Once you have developed your menu, compare it to the guidelines in your country. Does it meet the recommended serves and serving sizes of the following food groups:

  • Vegetables and legumes
  • Fruits (mostly whole fruit rather than dried)
  • Meat, poultry, fish or alternatives (lean)
  • Bread, cereals and grains (mostly wholegrain)
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese or alternatives (mostly reduced fat for children over 2)

If not, go back to the menu to see what you can change.

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This article is from the free online course:

Preventing Childhood Obesity: an Early Start to Healthy Living

University of Wollongong