Do you really have enough vegetables on your menu?
Background and links to the National Quality Standard
For early years settings who provide food to children it is important that consideration is given to the assessment guide for Element 2.2.1, outlined in the Guide to the National Quality Standard.
Element 2.2.1 is “Healthy eating is promoted and food and drinks provided by the service are nutritious and appropriate for each child.”
The Assessment Guide for element 2.2.1 states that Assessors may observe if children are “provided with food that is consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia.”
The Australian Dietary Guidelines make recommendations about the amounts core foods or healthy foods children should eat for good health and healthy growth and development. It is generally considered best practice, for settings providing food, that 50% of the recommended daily intake is provided while in care over morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.
Vegetables – How much is enough?
The table below shows the recommended serves of vegetables per day for children and also the amount that should be provided while children are in care.
|Age Group||Vegetable serves required per day||Vegetable serves required in care (over morning tea, lunch and dinner)|
|1 – 2 years||
(about 150g per day)
|2 – 3 years||
2 ½ serves
(about 190g per day)
(about 115g per day)
4 ½ serves
(about 340g per day)
(about 190g per day)
One serve of vegetables is equivalent to about 75g. 75g of vegetables could be:
- ½ cup of cooked vegetables
- 1 cup of salad vegetables
- ½ potato
For children 7 – 12 months, working towards 40g of vegetables a day is recommended.
Counting up your serves – don’t get tricked
If you are counting up the number of serves of vegetables you provide over a day be careful to consider the amount that is actually provided to children.
For example, a vegetable muffin is very unlikely to provide a full serve of vegetables for a child. Remember a serve is 75g. If you have used 600g of vegetables to make 30 muffins, there is about 20g of vegetables per muffin. This extra vegetable content is really great but don’t get tricked into counting it as a full serve.
Tips for more vegetables
Consider ways that you can add extra vegetables to meals and include some vegetable based snacks as it can be tricky to have enough vegetables for the day at lunch alone. These are some of our top tips:
- Add lentils or kidney beans to mince dishes.
- Add chick peas to mild curries.
- Add extra frozen vegetables at meals if your budget for fresh vegetables is tight.
- Add vegetable sticks to your fruit platters – mix it up, use beans, snow peas, capsicum, carrot, cucumber.
- Add salad to sandwiches.
- Check out the vegetable recipes ideas in our latest e-newsletter.
Need more information or assistance
Food Foundations provides services to help your Early Years Setting better understand how much of each food group, including vegetables, is actually provided on your menu.
Food Foundations Menu Assessments
Our menu assessments include a full menu assessment report, including:
- Areas of achievement highlighted.
- A full breakdown of how much food from each food group you are providing.
- New meal and snack ideas.
- Practical examples of changes your setting can implement to better meet the nutritional requirements for children in care.
Food Foundations Menu Planning Workshops
You can host a menu planning workshop at your setting for groups of 3 to 20 people. The workshop is practical session taking you through the 7 steps to creating a menu that provides children their daily nutritional requirements.
Please contact us for more information about menu planning workshops or menu assessments.
Phone: (07) 32574393