Meeting nutritional requirements on ‘sandwich day’
Although it may be a time-consuming option for chefs and cooks in early years centres, sandwiches are a tasty and popular option with children. Coming into the summer months, it is likely that sandwiches will be a regular fixture on your menus.
But, it is tricky to balance nutrition requirements on the days you serve sandwiches. When we do menu assessments, we typically see that centres provide below recommended amounts of vegetables and foods from the lean meats food group on sandwich day.
It is recommended that children aged 2-3 years have access to 1.5 serves of vegetables per day while in care – that is 110g vegetables/ salad while in care. Children aged 4-5 years should have access to 2.5 serves of vegetables per day while in care – that is 185g vegetables/ salad while in care.
While it may be possible to get that many vegetables into a hot dish for the children, it is difficult to include the required amount on a sandwich. On days that you serve sandwiches for lunch, you can not rely on lunch alone to ensure that children have the opportunity to consume adequate vegetables while in care. To add more more vegetables to your menu, consider adding vegetables to your fruit platters and including snacks which feature vegetables such as zucchini slice, corn cobs and vegetable muffins.
Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legume/ beans.
This food group is made up of plenty of iron and protein rich foods. The food group includes:
- lean beef, lamb, chicken, turkey and pork
- nuts and seeds
- legumes such as chickpeas and baked beans.
Ham is not part of this food group. Ham is a discretionary (or extra) food. Generally if you are not including at least 2 foods from this food group as part of your sandwich fillings, it is unlikely that on sandwich day, you will be meeting childrens’ requirements for this food group. Great sandwich filling options include, egg, poached chicken (you can poach this onsite and freeze for use in the future), tuna or baked beans.
When planned well, sandwiches are a wonderful addition to your child care menu, particularly during the summer months. When you have adequate vegetables across the day and include foods from the lean meats food group, sandwich day can easily meet you nutritional requirements for children while they are in care.