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Planning Healthy Menu for School Children

Planning Healthy Menu for School Children

After a long day in school, meal time is the time for your child to rest and enjoy a meal with the family. It is an opportunity for parents to spend quality time and interact with their children. When planned wisely, home prepared meals are more wholesome, saves time as well as cheaper. Menu planning is simple and not time consuming if you are organised and plan well ahead.

Why planning healthy menu is important for school children?

  • To provide healthy meals and snacks at the right time throughout the day.
  • To ensure variety in each meal so that the child gets a balanced meal.
  • To avoid repeating the food selection.
  • To plan early for ingredients that are needed so as to avoid buying at the last moment or in a hurry.
  • To save time. By referring to a planned menu, you can prioritise dishes that need to be prepared early.

General guide to healthy menu planning with the family

It is important to plan a menu that is healthy and enjoyed by children. Below is a guide on how to plan a menu for your child:

  • Plan meals for the whole week. You need to plan for 3 main meals and 2 snacks a day to ensure that your child gets enough food.
  • Menu for the main meals and snacks must consist foods from each of the 5 food groups of the Malaysian Food Pyramid. If any of the food groups is not included in the main meal, it can be added in the snacks. For example, fruits can be added to the snack menu.
  • Mealtime should also to be planned to take into consideration when your child goes to and returns from school. Give your child ample time to finish his/her meal before going to school. Do not rush him/her. Children are usually tired after school so let him/her have a short rest before serving the main meal.

Tips on healthy menu planning for main meals

  • Ensure that the main meal consists of foods from the 5 food groups of the Malaysian Food Pyramid.
  • Choose dishes that contain whole grain products (example: white rice mixed with brown rice).
  • Add fruits and vegetables to the main dish (example: tomatoes to ayam masak merah).
  • Add beans as baked beans, peas, dhal or bean curd to fish, chicken, meat or egg dishes. For example, add peas in ayam masak kicap or tempe in sambal ikan bilis.

Tips on healthy menu planning for snacks

  • Include at least 2 different food groups in every snack.
  • Choose nutritious snacks such as fresh fruits, cheese, egg or tuna sandwich, steamed pau, apam, milk, and yoghurt.
  • Cut down on sugary and sticky snacks such as candies that stick on children’s teeth and cause dental carries.

Tips on healthy menu planning for snacks

  • Include at least 2 different food groups in every snack.
  • Choose nutritious snacks such as fresh fruits, cheese, egg or tuna sandwich, steamed pau, apam, milk, and yoghurt.
  • Cut down on sugary and sticky snacks such as candies that stick on children’s teeth and cause dental carries.

Checklist on planning healthy menus

Use the following checklist to ensure that the menu you planned is complete:

  • Does your child get a variety of foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily?
  • Does he take foods from each food group?
  • Does he drink milk and plain water daily?
  • Do you try to prepare meals using healthy cooking methods such as steaming, baking or roasting everyday?
  • Are the food selection repeated too often? For example, fried chicken 5 times a week.
  • Is the meal you prepared is of high nutritional value / nutrient densed?
Last reviewed : 19 April 2012
Writer : Siti Mariam bt. Ali

 

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