Menu Planning: Portion Sizes

So what’s a portion size? And how many do growing kids need?

The new Canada’s Food Guide provides healthy eating guidelines for children ages 2 and up. 

The serving sizes listed in the food guide are the same size as adult serving sizes. Keep in mind, children have small appetites, so spread food servings throughout the day. 

For example: 1 serving of milk and alternatives:
½ a cup of milk at breakfast with cereal +  ½ cup of milk with dinner

Children eat half of their meals at daycare, so the daycare should provide half of the suggested serving sizes per day.

Here is a list of the food guide servings:

  Serving Sizes
  Fruits and Vegetables Grain Products Milk and Milk Products Meat and Alternatives
Daily Requirement 4-5 3-4 2 1
At Daycare 2-3 2 1-1 1/2 1/2

Children have high energy and calorie needs for growth and development, so don’t worry about fat content.  It is not necessary to give kids products that are marketed as “low fat” or “low calorie”.  Instead focus on healthy and nutritious foods from the food guide.

Putting it all together counting daily serving sizes:

Morning Snack    
3/4 cup Yogurt 1 serving of Milk and Alternatives
1/2 cup Strawberries 1 serving of Vegetables and Fruit
     
Lunch    
1 Egg 1/2 serving of Meat and Alternatives
1 slice Whole Grain Bread 1 serving of Grain Products
1/2 cup Cut up Veggies 1/2 serving of Vegetables and Fruit
1/2 Apple 1/2 serving of Vegetables and Fruit
     
Afternoon Snack    
1/2 cup Milk or Soymilk 1/2 serving of Milk and Alternatives
1/3 cup Hummus 1/2 serving of Meat and Alternatives
1/2 Pita 1 serving of Grain Products
     
Total  

1 1/2 servings of Milk and Alternatives
2 servings of Vegetables and Fruit
1 serving of Meat and Alternatives
2 servings of Grain Products

Examples of One Food Group Serving:

Vegetables and Fruit  
1 Fruit (Apple, Orange, Banana, etc.)
1/2 cup Vegetables
1/2 Large Banana
1/2 cup Applesauce/Fruit Cocktail (packed in juice)
5-6 Baby carrots
1 cup Green Salad
   
Grain Products  
1 Slice whole grain bread
1/2 cup Rice, Couscous or Bulgur
3/4 cup Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat
30 g Cold Cereal
1/2 cup Whole wheat pasta
1/2 Pita or Tortilla (30 g)
   
Milk and Alternatives  
1 cup Milk, Fortified Soymilk or Chocolate milk
50 g (1 1/2 oz) Cheese
3/4 cup Yogurt
   
Meat and Alternatives  
2 Eggs
75 g (2 1/2 oz) Lean meat, Poultry or Fish
3/4 cup Beans or Hummus
3/4 cup (175 ml)

Tofu

30 ml (2 tbsp) Peanut Butter
Last Modified: Jan 22, 2010