Healthy eating, and not just when we feel like it

We all know that it is our job to make sure we meet the dietary requirements of the children in the food we provide them while they are in care. We also know that we have an obligation to engage children in discussions and activities about healthy eating. It says so in the NQS “Healthy eating is promoted and food and drinks provided by the service are nutritious and appropriate for each child” (Element 2.2.1) and the EYLF “Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing” (Learning Outcome 3).

This is not what I want to talk about, I want to talk about the other areas we bring food into the service outside of the menu or children’s lunches they might bring from home. When we do cooking, or have events, or eat in front of the children, are we continuing to role model healthy eating habits?

Cooking with the children is an excellent activity, that covers all 5 of the EYLF Learning Outcomes and teaches skills such as literacy (following recipes), language (developing new vocabulary), counting and measuring (quantities in the recipe), turn taking, science (watching how the ingredients react together). When you plan cooking activities with the children do you reflect on whether they meet they healthy eating policies of your service?

Here are some great cooking activities children can get involved with and will allow for a lot of discussions about healthy food:

Fruit salad – Children can cut and scoop different fruits and help make a colourful healthy fruit salad.

Salad – Lots of services have their own vegetable patches so why not make a salad. Children are more likely to try foods if they grew them because they are more invested. Don’t forget there are loads of different types of salad including ones with added beans/pasta/rice/meat/cheese etc.

Sushi – This is another simple and easy, yet very healthy, option to make with children, just pre cook the rice

Smoothies – Chop up some different fruits and mix with yoghurt or coconut milk to make smoothies for the children.

Healthy ice blocks – You can buy ice block moulds or sells packs of zip lock icy pole tubes. Just remember juice has a LOT of sugar in it, perhaps water down and add pieces of fruit, or make with left over smoothie!


In addition to cooking experiences there are also some great recipes children can help with for resources for play.

Play dough – Make play dough with the children, even if they mix the ingredients and you cook it.

Paint – With just a couple of ingredients children can make their own paints. Try using natural sources of colour too, like flowers and leaves.

Glue – Save money and make some glue with the children.

Goop/slime – Another great opportunity to measure and mix to see science in action.

I’d love to hear what healthy cooking activities you do with the children in your service in the comments below.




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