Updated menu planning guidelines for long day care

The Menu planning guidelines for long day care provide advice on what to include on, and what to leave off, a healthy menu for 1-5 year old children in care. 

We developed these guidelines in 2012 to help Victorian long day care centers provide healthy foods and drinks in line with the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the National Quality Standard.

In May 2020, we added extra criteria to provide clear advice on using the following ingredients on long day care menus:

  • added sugar
  • added fats and oils
  • sauces and condiments that are high in salt
  • spreads, such as Vegemite and jam
  • and ingredients to NOT include on the menu, such as deep fried and processed meats.

The updated menu planning guidelines for long day care are out now (18 May 2020), and will come into effect on FoodChecker from 15 June 2020.

Learn about what these updates to FoodChecker mean for you below: 

 

Q&A

What are new the new criteria?

The following criteria were added to the Menu planning guidelines for long day care:

  • Baked items should contain 5g or less of added sugar per serve.
    Added sugars include brown sugar, caster sugar, icing sugar, raw sugar, white sugar, coconut sugar, golden syrup, honey or rice malt syrup.

  • Limit fats and oils to 10g/ml (2 teaspoons) or less of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oils/spreads per child per day.

  • Salty and sweet spreads should be used sparingly and not offered every day.

  • Limit sauces very high in salt to less than 5g/ml per serve per child.
    Sauces such as soy or fish sauce, curry paste, regular tomato sauce and even some pasta sauces are very high in salt and can be harmful in large amounts, especially for young children.

 

When do these changes come into effect?

The updated Menu planning guidelines for long day care are out now (Monday 18 May 2020), and will come into effect on FoodChecker from 15 June 2020.

Subscribe to our mailing list to be notified about the updates..

 

What are the changes to how FoodChecker counts serve sizes?

FoodChecker has over 2000 individual ingredients, such as bread, milk, water, apples, bananas, etc.

Every ingredient is given its own equivalent of what ‘one serve’ equals per food group, according to the Menu planning guidelines for long day care.

We recently updated the serve sizes for approximately 250 (11%) of the ingredients in FoodChecker, to improve accuracy and consistency.

For example, the Menu planning guidelines for long day care say one serve of the ‘grains’ food group is 30g of dry pasta or ½ cup of cooked pasta.

There are more than 50 different pasta and pasta-like ingredients in FoodChecker (such as pasta, rice, oats, quinoa, cous cous, and noodles), and each one needs its own value for what ‘one serve’ of grains equals, when dry and when cooked, in cups and in grams.

 

If I reassess a previous menu in FoodChecker, what will change?

The new menu planning criteria and the updates to the way FoodChecker counts some ingredients will come into effect from 15 June 2020.

If you reassess a previous long day care menu in FoodChecker after that date, you might notice some slight changes.

Also if you reassess a menu that contained any of the following ingredients, you will be advised to reduce or remove the ingredients, and your menu might not meet the guidelines:

  • recipes with more than 5g/ml of added sugars
  • sauces and condiments high in salt
  • more than 10g/ml of unsaturated fats/oils per child per day
  • deep fried or processed meats


You might also notice slight changes to the amount of serves on the menu per food group per day, as we have updated the way FoodChecker counts some ingredients. Read more.

You might not notice any changes in your FoodChecker report, but if you do, you might be advised to add a little bit more of some food groups, or you might have more than the minimum required amount for some food groups.

 

What happens to my previous menu assessments?

Menu assessments are considered valid for up to 12 months. For example, if you assessed a menu six months ago and it met the Menu planning guidelines for long day care, you can use that exact menu again within the next six months.

You can contact us heas@nutritionaustralia.org or 1300 22 52 88 if these timelines are difficult for you at the moment.

However, if you have made changes to a previous menu, or you want to plan a new menu, you should assess it on FoodChecker after 15 June 2020 to make sure it aligns with the updated menu planning guidelines.

 

How do I reassess previous menu?

  1. Log in to FoodChecker
  2. Click MY ASSESSMENTS.
  3. Find the menu that you want to reassess, then click COPY AND EDIT.
  4. Give the menu a new name (For example, “Week 1 Summer 2019 – reassessed”), then click the blue button.
  5. You can edit the items on your menu, or leave it as is. Then click SUBMIT FOR ASSESSMENT.
    (If you are doing a full week assessment, answer the questions on the next screen, then click FINISH ASSESSMENT.)
  6. Your updated results will appear on screen.
    (If you did a full week assessment you should click SAVE AS PDF to download your detailed report.)

What happens to my previous menu assessments?

 

What happens to my Smiles 4 Miles or Achievement Program recognition?

The Achievement Program will accept a FoodChecker menu assessment report that says your menu meets the Menu planning guidelines for long day care if the report is less than 12 months old. 

Smiles 4 Miles is a two year award program and only requires a FoodChecker menu assessment report to be submitted every two years (when you apply for your award). However you are encouraged to submit a report that is less than 12 months old.

 

Will this affect my National Quality Standard rating?

To determine whether your centre provides a healthy menu that meets the National Quality Standard, Victoria’s Authorised Officers are advised to look for a FoodChecker report that states the menu meets the Menu planning guidelines for long day care.

The FoodChecker report you show them should:

Learn more about how to meet all of the healthy food and drinks requirements in the NQS.