Selecting recipes

Choose recipes that include foods from the basic food groups, and avoid those that include ingredients with large amounts of fat, sugar or salt.

Look for recipes that use healthy cooking methods such as stir frying, steaming, baking and grilling. Limit the amount of fats or oils added. Most dishes which use oil can be prepared with much less than recommended, and still work well and taste good.

If you need to increase a recipe to cater for the number of children in your setting, use the children’s serves described on page 30 to make sure you have enough food to offer at least one serve from each relevant food group for each child. Take care when adjusting the quantities of extra ingredients such as onions and garlic, or flavourings like herbs and spices. These will not need to be increased by as much as the main ingredients. The recipes in this book may provide some guidelines for the amount of main ingredients and flavourings needed for different numbers of children.

Modifying recipes

Many ingredients that may make a recipe high in fat or salt can be swapped for a healthier alternative. The following table provides some suggestions.

Ingredient Healthier options
Milk Reduced-fat milk can be used for children over 2 years (Full-cream milk is recommended for children under 2 years)
Cream Reduced-fat evaporated milk or reduced-fat cream
Sour cream natural yoghurt
Coconut milk Reduced-fat, coconut-flavoured evaporated milk or low-fat coconut milk
Meat Lean meat
Chicken Chicken with no skin
Sausage mince Lean beef or chicken mince
Pastry Use filo pastry and spray alternate sheets with oil, or only serve pastry on top of a pie
Butter Plyunsaturated margerine or vegetable oil
Oils Vegetable-based oils such as olive or canola
Stock Reduced-salt stock
Salt Omit completely, and use fresh or dried herbs and spices to boost flavour
Sugar Limited amounts

Recipe ideas

The following pages contain recipes than can be prepared both at home or in an early childhood setting. All recipes have been designed to offer a variety of healthy foods to young children.

Recipe notes

The recipes on the following pages are easy to prepare. Some recipes need longer cooking time, while others require longer preparation time. There are some recipes that you will need to start preparing earlier in the day, or you might like to prepare them the day before.
  • Lean cuts of meat and lean mince are recommended anywhere meat is used.
  • Skinless chicken thighs are recommended. If using other types of chicken pieces, remove all skin and bones or buy boned, skinless pieces.
  • Choose low-salt stocks and sauces where available.
  • Where eggs are used, 70g eggs are recommended.
  • Suggested cooking times may vary depending on your oven/stove.
  • Each recipe has been designed for young children. Quantities are approximate estimates, for serving six, 25 or 60 children as a main meal. Some exceptions are in the second course and snack recipes.
  • Measurement abbreviations:
    • tsp = teaspoon (5 millilitres)
    • tbsp = tablespoon (20 millilitres)
    • cup = metric cup (250 millilitres)