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Having structured mealtimes can be difficult: it means that you actually need to decide what you are going to serve. That is a lot of planning, but, of course, it is easier to make these decisions before the actual meal time arrives. To make life easier, it is best to have a plan for the day (or even the next few days).

It’s a lot easier to build a menu if you start with simple building blocks. Here is how to go about it.

Start With a Staple

Start with a grain food at each meal, as these are the foods that are filling as well as providing  fibre, B-group vitamins and significant amounts of protein and some minerals. Include wholegrain varieties at least some of the time. Examples of these foods are:

  • Crackers, crispbreads
  • Any kind of bread
  • Pancakes or pikelets
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Raisin toast
  • Couscous
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Quinoa

 Filling in the Gaps

Next add a food that contains fat, such as oil, butter, margarine, cheese, avocado, hummus, peanut butter, whole nuts (only for children over 5), cream cheese, mayonnaise, or salad dressing.

At a couple of meals each day serve fruit and/or vegetables as well as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, legumes (beans and lentils), or tofu.

In order to meet the calcium requirements of growing children, serve a dairy food – milk, cheese, yoghurt or custard – at three of the daily meals.

So a daily meal plan might look like this:

  • Breakfast – cereal with milk or dry cereal and some yogurt
  • Morning tea – crackers, hummus and fruit
  • Lunch – vegemite sandwich and yogurt or milk,
  • Afternoon tea – toast with peanut butter or raisin toast with butter and fruit and vegetables
  • Dinner – chicken schnitzel with mashed potato and steamed vegetables and custard

Make sure to offer water at each meal.

Tips for Tea

Here are some more suggestions for morning and afternoon tea.

It’s a good idea to make sure you have a stock of the foods you are going to need for the week. This is where planning a menu helps. For example, you might want to  make schnitzel, but find you don’t have any breadcrumbs and it’s too late to make your own. Having planned a menu and shopped ahead of time makes feeding your family  a whole lot easier.

Familyfoodworks is run by Eve Reed, a leading paediatric dietitian. For more information about Eve and Familyfoodworks, please contact us.