Select the meat or alternative for each day of the week. Consider serving fish twice a week. Choose lean meat and alternatives prepared with little or no added fat or salt.
Select a vegetable for each day of the week. Provide at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day, prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt. Include a variety of cooked and raw vegetables and different textures and shapes, such as grated, chopped, mashed, sliced, cubed, sticks, wedges.
Select a fruit for each day of the week. Serve prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt. Choose whole fruit more often than fruit juice. Avoid fruit ‘punches’, ‘drinks’, and ‘beverages’.
Select a grain product for each day of the week. Serve whole grain products (breads, pastas, rice) most of the time. Include a variety such as barley, couscous, bagels, pitas, tortillas, rye bread, oatmeal, and quinoa.Choose grain products that are lower in fat, sugar or salt.
Select milk or a milk alternative for each day of the week. Serve whole milk (3.25%) for children 1 to 2 years and 1% or 2% milk each day to children over two. Serve milk as a beverage at lunch or snack. Serve milk products like yogurt and cheese for snacks or desserts. Include in the ingredients used to prepare desserts or for toppings.
If you offer dessert, it can be chosen from one of the four food groups. It is not necessary to plan desserts such as cake or cookies. Some nutritious dessert ideas are homemade fruit crisp, fresh fruit, yogurt, fruit canned in juice, and homemade oatmeal cookies.
Plan morning and afternoon snacks to complement meals. Select snacks from the four food groups. Offer food from at least two food groups at each snack. Choose those that are low in added sugar and do not stick to teeth. Serve snacks about 2 hours before the next meal.
Double check your menu: see the Good Beginnings Menu Planning Checklist.