How to Plan Meals for Children

Leaflet No 1
Leaflet No 1




The human body is like a house. Only if it has firm foundations can it stand up to life’s stress and strain year after year. Such foundations are laid during the ante-natal period and the first five years of childhood. Since healthy muscle and strong bone are manufactured entirely from food, it is obvious that foods selected and eaten by the expectant and nursing mother, and those provided for the young child are of paramount importance. On them depend to a very great extent the health and happiness of all future generations.

Children, even more than adults, need nourishing food at every meal. Since they can only eat small quantities, everything they have needs to be of good nutritional value.

For children, food must be provide not only for daily upkeep of the body, but also for the demands of growth and of almost ceaseless activity.

Foods are classified to-day, according to whether their chief purpose in the body is to supply energy and warmth, building material, or vitamins and mineral salts essential for protection against ill-health, and for good growth. In their meals young children require a higher proportion of building and protective foods and lower proportion of energy than adults.

Food Guide for Children of All Ages


Some foods which many mothers have always regarded as essential for children are now either scarce or unobtainable – of these lack of fruit ansd sugar is usually considered as the most serious, although in both cases no harm will result if suitable alternatives are given.


Oranges are normally given to children because they contain vitamin C, so essential so essential for the prevention of lassitude, skin troubles and infection. This vitamin is not contained to such a great extent in fruits such as apples, pears, grapes or plums; these fruits do not therefore , take the place of oranges. On the other hand, blackcurrants rose hips and tomatoes are a rich source of vitamin C, and should be provided in suitable form when in season. Otherwise raw green vegetables, or one of the following alternatives must be given. They must be given daily, not once or twice a week {since vitamin C is not stored in the body].


Sugar is useful in feeding children because of its sweetening effect, and because it provides quick energy. Nevertheless, from a nutritional point of view, it is not essential and children’s health need not suffer as a result of rationing.

Sugar alternative in puddings

(1). Dried fruit—raisins, etc,. and dates—from the points ration.

(2). Raw and cooked carrots.

(3). Jam—syrup or treacle as far as ration will allow.

Sugar alternatives for Energy

[1). Jam and syrup.

(2). Dried fruit.

(3). Fat rendered from bacon.

(4). Bread and other cereals.

(5). Potatoes.

An unnatural craving for sugar or sweets is likely to be due not to a deficiency of sugar but to an insufficient total intake of energy foods. A general survey should be taken of the total amount of food eaten during the day. Fat and sugar are concentrated forms of energy which have been reduced in amount by rationing. Their place is taken by increased quantities of bred and potatoes which involves the consumption of greater bulk. Since children cannot eat more than a certain amount of food at any one meal, those who are very active and energetic should be given mid-meal snacks consisting of;

Bread Rusks

National bread sandwiches with a salad filing.

If at the same time ample protective foods are included in the meals, a craving for sugar or any other particular food should be averted.

Body building Foods

Children require a high proportion of body –building foods in their diet The best are those from animal sources;- Milk, cheese, eggs [fresh or dried] meat and fish.

Since these are all either rationed, expensive or scarce, they need to be supplemented with one or more of the following;- Soya, flour, pulse, vegetables [peas, beans, lentils], oatmeal, national bread and flour. These are food which have optimum body building effect when combined with small quantities of animal-building foods.


(a). Join the National milk supply scheme.

(b). See that each child in the family actually consumes the milk obtained for it.

(c). Use National household dried milk as an extra. It is one of the finest building foods on the market.


(a). Take up the full ration of cheese for every child.

(b) Give cheese [grated] to children from one year onwards.


(a). Give each child under six the full number of eggs provided under the priority scheme.

(b). For those over six years the best alternatives are;-

(1). Liver [when obtainable]

(2). Oily fish [when obtainable on points ration].

(3). Increase quantities of pulse and green vegetables and National bread.

(c). Give children fair share of the “dried eggs”.


(a). See that each child is given its full ration during the week. It should not be given up for the men of the family. Whose nutritional need for meat is less than that of growing adolescent children.

(b). Meat extracts and bone stock have negligible body building value. Their purpose is to provide flavour and in some cases protective material. Therefore mothers need not worry if they are unable to procure bones for broth. It is the vegetables which provide nutriment.


Use fresh salted or smoked fish, made into savoury dishes with potatoes, for the elder children.

Points Rationing

Children’s points coupons should be apportioned entirely to the purchase of foods with good body-building and protective value, i.e. canned meats and fish, pulse, vegetables, dried fruit [including prunes]. Home-grown oatmeal can be used to take the place of rice and other cereals in milk puddings.


Vegetables assume particular importance in a war time diet. Not only for adults, but also for children from the age of six months and onwards. With the disappearance of fresh fruit and the restrictions in supplies of dairy products, green vegetables alone can fill the gaps, and provide adequate amounts of essential Vitamins A and C. They also serve as a useful sources of Vitamin B, and mineral salts, calcium and iron. With the exception of vitamin A, which is present in vegetables in the form of carotene. All these substances are to some extent soluble in water and are partially destroyed by wrong methods of cooking. At a time when all forms of waste are regarded as a crime, full attention should be paid to the efficient cooking of vegetables, particularly of green leafy variety, so that there is least loss of nutritional value. The following points should be carefully noted;-


(1). Use vegetables as fresh and unwilted as possible. Buy them daily rather than weekly, or preferably pick them fresh from a garden or allotment.

(2). Prepare vegetables just before cooking—wash them if possible, do not soak; use cold salted water—fifteen minutes is the maximum soaking time.

(3). Shred or cut up finely [except sprouts which are cooked whole] and cook immediately.


(1) Put sufficient water in a pan to come one inch up the side. Add salt and bring to a quick boiling point. Add prepared vegetables in handfuls, allowing the water to come back to the boil between each addition. Put on the lid and if this does not fit tightly, insert clean paper or material under the lid. Boil rapidly until tender, but not longer than fifteen minutes, shaking the pan from time to time.

(2) Drain and serve immediately.

(3) Use water left from cooking as stock for soups, broth, gravies and sauces

Outer Leaves of Green Vegetables

The greener the vegetables, the greater is the nutritional value. The outer leaves of green vegetables, and the green parts of other vegetables such as turnips, celery, leeks and cauliflower should therefore never be discarded. If removed in preparation, they should, without fail, be used in one of the following ways;-

(1). As green vegetable, cook separately from the tender parts, with the addition of soda but only if very tough.

(2). For making stock and soup.

(3). Cook, mince, and mix in rissoles and made up dishes.


Food used by the body

For the building of muscle

Milk, cheese, eggs, meat and fish.

Food for teeth and bones

Milk, cheese, green vegetables, margarine and butter and cod and halibut liver oil.

To bite on;- Bread, rusk and raw carrot.

Food for vitality

National bread, green vegetables, salads or raw vegetables or vegetable or fruit juice.

Food for clear skin

Fresh fruit, green vegetables, salad or raw vegetables or vegetable or fruit juice.

Foods to prevent constipation

National bread, vegetables and fruit, salad or raw vegetables and oatmeal.

These foods are all essential to the growing child and should be included in each days meals according to the child’s age. To these can be added other foods according to taste, season and supplies.

Establishment of good food habits

There is a very strong tendency for those food habits which develop during the first few year of a child’s life to remain in later years. Mothers must recognise their responsibility in this direction by teaching their children to like those foods which are essential for their good health. Remember that;-

(1) The flavour of each new food has to be learned. With younger children introduce an unaccustomed food very gradually, beginning with a very small quantity added to another food which is known and liked e.g., at one year mix a teaspoonful of grated cheese with mashed potatoes, and increase the amount very slowly. In older children make any new food or dish a novelty and a special treat.

(2) Colour and attractiveness in meals for older children play an important part in is acceptance.

(3) Forcing children to eat a particular food tends to create a permanent dislike for that food.

(4) Personal example shown by the parent is of considerable influence. Never should adults say in front of a child that they dislike this or that food, but rather that they say they like this or that food. A happy atmosphere during mealtimes is well worth while achieving. Parents may be fussy about their own food, but there is no excuse for passing on bad habits to their children.

(5) A happy atmosphere during mealtimes is well worth achieving. Parents may be fussy about their own food, but there is no excuse for passing on such a bad habit tio their children.