Providing a variety of nutritious food is essential to support the growth and development of young children. The first five years are the most important stage of growth and development in a child’s life. Childcare is also a great place for children to develop long lasting healthy eating habits as behaviours developed in the early years are more likely to continue through to adulthood.
Steps to planning a menu:
- Collect suitable recipes.
- Use resources available to you on the web and the Get Up and Grow cookbook. Catering and school canteen cookbooks may be helpful as they are designed for cooking in bulk. Use tried and tested recipes, however these may need to be modified to increase the vegetable content
- Try to keep recipes simple – the more complex a meal looks, the less a child may identify with it.
- Avoid foods with a long cooking time.
- Check that recipes have one vegetable and one meat/protein serve per child. Most recipes will need to have additional vegetables asses to meet recommendations.
- Plot main meals into the menu planning template.
- Add fruit to morning tea.
- Provide milk to drink with at least two meals.
- Use morning and afternoon tea as a time to ‘fill in the gaps’ to meet requirements.
- Ensure that the serves required from each food group to meet 50 per cent of requirements are provided on each day of the menu.
- Use the menu planning checklist to ensure that you are meeting other meal requirements:
- Is water provided at every meal?
- Is lean red meat provided at least 3 times per week?
- Are meals from different cultures included?
Menu self-assessment tool
Menu Planning Checklist
Once you have finished your menu planning, double check its adequacy using this checklist.