Menu Planning for Early Childcare

10/03/2021 Early Childhood, Healthy Eating, Help for Parents

A nutritious diet is essential for the growth and development of young children. By providing a healthy menu at your childcare centre, not only does it set the foundation for future healthy eating habits for the children at your centre, but addresses the requirements of the National Quality Standard – in particular Quality Area 2 – Children’s Health and Safety, element 2.1.3 which states “Healthy eating and physical activity are promoted and appropriate for each child”.

Where to Start

Here are 4 easy steps on how to build a nutritious menu for an early childcare centre:

1. Establish how many children you need to cater for, and whether any of these students have specific dietary requirements such as cultural preferences, allergies/intolerances or vegetarian diets.

2. Familiarise yourself with the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. The aim is to fill your menu with foods and drinks from the 5 food groups, and to avoid discretionary items. Have a look at what makes a serve, and how many serves children need each day.  

3. Start planning your menu. We recommend having a rotating fortnightly menu for variety (e.g. week A and week B). Start with the meals, then work your way to snacks, making sure that water is available at each food break. Check our recipe section for some ideas!

4. Once you’ve planned your menu, review it against the Nutrition Checklist for Menu Planning on page 93 of the Caring for Children Manual.

Helpful resources

Munch & Move – training and resources to educators working in NSW early childhood education and care services.

Caring for Childrenpractical information to meet the food and nutrition needs of children in care.

Get Up & Grow Practical information and advice on early childhood healthy eating and physical activity, how to develop nutrition and physical activity policies and ways to support and encourage staff, carers and families.

Thank you to Georgia Olivieri, Healthy Kids Volunteer, for contributing to this blog post.