Recommended serves - 1 1/2 serves per day, with 1 serve equal to 1 cup of dairy milk or fortified plant milk (such as soy), 40g of cheese or 200g of yoghurt.
Key nutrients - Dairy foods are a rich source of calcium, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth. They provide vitamin B12 for brain development and offer a quick and easy source of protein.
Adding variety - Dairy is usually a favourite among littlies, but if your child isn't a fan, try grating some cheese or pouring a white sauce over vegetables, or serve a fruit smoothie for afternoon tea. Yoghurt can be served through porridge for a delicious creamy texture and to add extra protein and calcium, or try freezing small containers of yoghurt for a deliciously healthy ice-cream replacement.
Recommended serves - A half to 1 serve per day, with 1 serve equal to 1 medium piece of fruit or 150g.
Key nutrients - Fruit in general is an excellent source of fibre for healthy digestive systems, as well as vitamins including vitamin C for immunity and minerals including potassium for strong bones.
Adding variety - If your child isn't a big fruit eater, try jazzing up sliced apples by cutting them in strips to make spirals or 'slinkies', or adding a little nut butter for some healthy fats and protein. Fruits such as melon and kiwifruit can be cut into fun shapes or served as fruit kebabs on paddle-pop sticks, and there's plenty you can do with bananas.
Recommended serves - 2 to 3 serves per day, with a serve equal to 1/2 cup or 75g of cooked vegetables, or 1 cup of leafy or raw salad vegetables.
Key nutrients - Vegetables contribute fibre for digestion and antioxidants for healthy cells and strong immune systems.
Adding variety - While grating vegetables into meals is quick and easy, vegetables don't have to be a dinner-only food. Hot breakfasts provide an opportunity to include vegies, such as sliced mushrooms added to scrambled eggs or an omelette. Vegie sticks are great with guacamole or hummus dips, or a cup of vegetable soup is a healthy between-meal snack. Offer a range of colours to maximise vitamin intake.
Grains and cereals
Recommended serves - 4 serves per day, with 1 serve equal to 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta, or 2/3 cup of flaked cereal.
Key nutrients - This food group provides a wonderful source of energy for active, growing kids. These foods are generally favoured by children and are an important staple to pair with other food groups. Wholegrain varieties offer fibre and slow-release energy to keep children attentive and energised all day.
Adding variety - Try different kinds of grain or lavash breads or wraps, alternate brown and basmati rice, or even try quinoa or barley, which can be added to mini rissoles or meatballs. Instead of offering plain crackers for morning tea, choose wholegrain varieties and vary toppings, such as a little cheese for calcium or hummus for a protein boost.
Recommended serves - 1 serve per day. This is equal to 65g of cooked lean meat, 80g of poultry, 100g of fish or 2 eggs.
Key nutrients - All meats, including pork and chicken, are an excellent source of protein for growth and satisfying hungry appetites, while red meat, such as beef and lamb, provides additional iron and zinc for healthy brain function and immunity.
Adding variety - If your child isn't a meat lover, try casseroles, stews or burgers, which can help disguise the strong taste of some meats and are also great vehicles for extra grated vegetables. Choose a variety of quality lean meats for protein and iron and include legumes and eggs for variety. You can bake leftover meats into quiches or frittatas, add them to salads or use them as sandwich fillers that are more nourishing than sandwich spreads. Small, soft pieces of meat can be easier to handle for littlies who are still developing chewing muscles.