Nutrition and Food Services

Food for Health Growth

  • A Guide for pre-school years

    Young children are busy learning about the world. Food provides them with energy, nutrients and a wonderful variety of tastes and textures. It is important to help children make good food choices by having a healthy range of foods available.

    Looking at 'Food Groups' is a quick way to check that your child is having a nutritious diet.

    Milk (dairy) Group

    Milk and milk products are convenient and nutritious foods which provide protein, carbohydrates and fat for energy and growth. They also contain vitamins and minerals such as calcium necessary for strong bones and teeth.

    We recommend that full cream milk is used for children less than 2 years old. Reduced fat milks (eg. Rev) may be an alternative for older children or adolescents.

    One serve may be:

    • 250mls milk
    • 200g yoghurt
    • 35g cheddar cheese

    Three serves a day of milk or milk products will provide a good balance of nutrients from this group.

    If your child has no milk, then a calcium fortified soya based alternative is recommended.

    Bread and Cereal Group

    Foods from this group contain carbohydrates (starch) for energy, some protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals

    Most bread and cereal products form an excellent base to a healthy diet, but try to avoid products with added sugar or fats.

    We recommend that whole grain breads and cereals are used as they are more nutritious than foods that have been overly processed.

    One serve from this group may be:

    • wholemeal bread (1 serve)
    • wholemeal biscuits eg. 4 bite size saladas
    • 1/2 cup rice or pasta
    • wholemeal breakfast cereal eg. Weetbix or Vitaweet

    Include four to five serves a day.

    Vegetable and Fruit Group

    Fibre, starch, sugar vitamins and minerals are all provided by foods in this group.

    Vegetables can be eaten raw or cook them for a short time so that precious vitamins are not destroyed. Fresh fruits, especially seasonal varieties are popular. Tinned & dried fruits can add variety to meals and snacks

    Children often love to design their own salads - mixing together a variety of chopped seasonal vegetables and fruits.

    Soups and dips are fun ways to encourage children to eat more vegetables.

    Include 4 or more serves each day eg. pieces of fruit eg. 1 banana, 1 apple, or 2 tablespoons of vegetables.

    Meat Group

    These foods are rich in protein needed to build and repair body muscle and tissue.

    This group includes a variety of meats, fish, poultry, eggs, dried peas, beans, lentils and nuts.

    It is best to trim off any visible fat from meat and cook without adding fats and oils.

    One serve from this group may be:

    • 30g lean meat, fish, chicken
    • 1/2 cup beans
    • 1 eggs

    Include 2 serve a day.


    Fats such as butter, margarine and oil are very dense in energy. Only small quantities are needed to provide the fat soluble vitamins A & D.

    Eating too many high fat foods, such as fried takeaways, chips, pies and ice-cream, may cause your child to become overweight and have less appetite for other foods.

    In Australia we have a wonderful variety of tasty foods for children to enjoy from each of the  food groups.

    Encourage your child to drink 3-4 glasses of plain water each day and even more on hot days.

    Suggested daily menu


    • Wholegrain breakfast cereal eg.
    • Weetbix or porridge
    • Milk or yoghurt
    • Fruit
    • Wholemeal toast, muffin or crumpet


    • Lunch box packed with wholemeal sandwich, roll or pita with various fillings eg.
    • Cheese, ham, egg, meat, peanut butter.
    • Salad, eg. grated carrot & lettuce
    • Fresh or dried fruit
    • Drink of water, milk or juice

    Afternoon snack

    • Fruit or
    • Sandwich
    • Glass of milk or yoghurt (low fat)


    • Meat, fish, beans, lentils, nuts
    • Potato, pasta, rice or bread
    • Vegetables or salad
    • Fruit


    • Milk
    • Wholemeal biscuits or fruit

    Health snack ideas

    • Fruit kebabs
    • Cheese with wholemeal biscuit
    • Crumpet or muffins
    • Fresh fruit ice blocks
    • Yoghurt
    • Milk & fruit smoothies
    • Raw salad, vegetables and dip

    Note: Make sure you look at labels to avoid foods high in fats, sugar and salt.

    Recommended books

    • A Healthy start for Kids - How to convince your child to eat well. S Thompson (1991) Publisher Simon & Schuster, Sydney NSW,ISBN 0.7318.0195.4
    • Nutrition for Life. C Saxelby (1989) Publisher Read Books Pty Ltd, Frenchs Forest NSW, ISBN 0.7301.0131.2
    • Healthy Food for families, Australian Nutrition Foundation - Recipes for all occasions. Ed J. Rogers (1990) Publisher J B Fairfax Press Pty Ltd, Rushcitters Bay NSW,ISBN 1.86343.013x