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Menu Mash Up

Students work together to create healthy dinner menus

Tags: nutrition activities, middle school, dinner

Description: Students hop, skip, or jump around a circle as they create healthy dinner menus.
Objective: Students will identify all five food groupings and recognize the importance of eating a variety of healthy foods for dinner.
Materials: One notecard and pencil for each student
  1. Ask the students to form a circle.
  2. Next, ask them what food groupings are (categories of different types of foods based on what they provide for and how they affect our bodies).
  3. Then, ask or tell them the five food groupings (fruits; vegetables; milk and milk products; grains; and meats, beans, and nuts). Ask for a few examples of healthy foods from each grouping (see below).
  4. Remind them it is important to eat a variety of foods because each one does something different and important for our bodies.
  5. Give each student a piece of paper and a pencil.
  6. Tell them you are going to play "Dinner Menu" and they are dieticians. Explain that dieticians are nutrition experts who can help people plan their diets.
  7. Tell them to write their name on their note card and then leave it (and their pencil) on the floor in their spot. Explain that on your signal they should move around the area using a loco-motor movement you name (e.g. skip, hop on one foot, jump, slide, etc.).
  8. When you say "MENU", students should find the nearest free note card and pencil. Name one of the five food groupings (fruits; vegetables; milk and milk products; grains; or meats, beans, and nuts) and have them write down one healthy dinner food in that food grouping, fold the paper over, put the pencil and note card face down, and begin moving around the play area again.
  9. You can change movements and directions to keep students interested. Go through each of the five food groupings.
  10. Ask the students to return to their original spots. Have them share and discuss their menus.

Children should be encouraged to consume a variety of nutrient-rich foods low in fat and added sugar. There are five food groupings:

  • Milk and milk products grouping—contains vitamin D and calcium which keep bones and teeth strong. Includes low-fat or skim milk, yogurt, and cottage, cheddar, mozzarella, and gouda cheese.
  • Vegetable grouping and fruit grouping—contain vitamins A, B, and C which make eyes sparkle, skin smooth, and help fight off colds; also contain fiber which helps the body digest food and keeps teeth and gums healthy, and helps cuts heal quickly. Includes raspberries, apples, kiwi, watermelon, peas, carrots, spinach, and squash.
  • Meat, beans, and nuts grouping—contains iron which makes blood healthy, brains grow, and builds muscle. Includes peanut butter, grilled chicken, turkey, and salmon, and tuna.
  • Grains grouping—contains carbohydrates which give the body energy. Includes whole wheat pasta, bread, brown rice.

"Slow" foods refer to foods high in fat and added sugar which can slow the body down.

Less Healthy ("Slow") Dinner Foods and Drinks:

  • hamburgers
  • hot dogs
  • french fries
  • creamy soups
  • soft drinks
  • cookies
  • refried beans
  • fried chicken
  • fried fish sticks
  • high fat pepperoni pizza
  • General Tso's chicken
  • sweet and sour chicken

Related National Standards

NHES: 1.5.1, 1.5.2, 7.5.1, 7.5.2
NSPE: 1, 5
NS: NS.5-8.6

Further information about the national standards can be found here.

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