Get Up & Grow: Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Early Childhood - Family Book

Meal and snack ideas for young children

Page last updated: 06 June 2011

Offer your child a variety of foods from each of the food groups each day. Meals and snacks both at home and in care can include a variety of healthy foods and should not include sometimes foods or ‘treats’. Remember that babies under nine months are not to have any dairy at all, and infants under 12 months should not be given any milk to drink. Full-cream plain milk is recommended for children aged one to two years, and reduced-fat plain milk is suitable for children over the age of two years.

What are some quick, healthy breakfasts?

Healthy breakfast options include:
  • porridge with fresh or canned fruit and a glass of milk
  • yoghurt and fruit, or a fruit smoothie
  • toast or crumpets with cheese and slices of fruit
  • baked beans on toast
  • toasted fruit bread
  • pikelets topped with ricotta and fruit.

What can I put in my child's lunchbox?

If you supply your child's snacks and meals fo rthe early childhood setting, there are a number of healthy and attractive choices. These include a sandwich, pita wrap or bread roll with fillings such as:
  • mashed egg with lettuce
  • shredded chicken with cheese and lettuce
  • tuna, corn and lettuce
  • turkey breast with cucumber and lettuce
  • ham, chutney and alfalfa sprouts
  • cold roast meat, chutney, lettuce and tomato
  • vegemite and cheese
  • cream cheese, grated carrot and sultanas
  • avocado, tomato and lettuce
  • mashed banana
Other choices include:
  • low-fat savoury biscuits or rice cakes with cheese
  • a cold slice of fritata
  • a homemade savoury muggin - try zucchini or corn and cheese
  • homemade pita pizza

What are some other healthy snacks for the lunchbox?

Other healthy snacks to put in your child’s lunchbox include:
  • fresh fruit – whole fruits such as mandarins, bananas, apricots, pears and plums, or cut-up slices of apple, orange, melon or pineapple
  • fruit salad Top of page
  • stewed fruit
  • raisin bread
  • dry biscuits with cheese, spreads or dip
  • pikelets (grated fruit or vegetables can be included in the mix)
  • scones – either plain with spreads, or fruit, pumpkin or cheese
  • banana bread
  • make-your-own’ fruit skewers on sturdy sticks
  • vegetable slices or sticks served with dip (be sure to blanch tough or fibrous vegetables until soft)
  • boiled eggs
  • yoghurt
  • cheese sticks.

What about lunch at home?

Extra healthy lunch ideas include:
  • soup and a bread roll
  • pasta with sauce and grated cheese
  • leftovers from dinner the night before
  • an omelette with toast
  • a toasted sandwich with fillings such as:
    • tuna and chees
    • tomato and cheese
    • ham, tomato and cheese
    • baked beans

What are some other healthy snacks?

Healthy snacks at home can include:
  • wholemeal or wholegrain sandwiches or toast
  • crumpets Top of page
  • raisin toast with ricotta cheese
  • a bowl of cereal and milk
  • fruit – a mixed platter or one kind of chopped/sliced fruit
  • chopped or sliced fruit served with yoghurt or ricotta as a dip
  • fresh or canned fruit with a dollop of yoghurt
  • a glass of reduced-fat milk
  • a fruit smoothie.

What can we cook for dinner?

It is a good idea to keep a mental list of dinner meals that can be prepared quickly and easily. It is also handy to keep a few meals or ingredients in the pantry or freezer that can be heated up and served in just a few minutes. These are often quicker, healthier and cheaper than takeaway meals.

Dinner ideas that can be prepared without too much fuss or pulled quickly from the pantry or freezer include:
  • soup – homemade or packaged (try chicken and sweet corn, pea and ham, minestrone or pumpkin and lentil)
  • eggs (scrambled eggs, omelettes or boiled eggs with toast soldiers)
  • baked potatoes with toppings (try tuna, baked beans or cheese and coleslaw)
  • homemade pizza (pita bread topped with tomato paste, meat and vegetables, e.g. ham, mushrooms, capsicum and cheese)
  • pasta (try creamy tuna pasta, vegetable pasta bake or spaghetti bolognese)
  • stir fry (try beef and broccoli stir fry, san choy bau or vegetable stir fry with tofu and egg)
  • patties (sweet potato and chickpea patties, tuna and corn patties or meat and vegetable rissoles)
  • frittatas and simple salads
  • casseroles with cous cous
  • curries with rice.