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Menu Mash-up

Students work together to create healthy lunch menus

Tags: nutrition activities, middle school, lunch

Description: Students hop, skip, or jump around a circle as they create healthy lunch menus.
Objective: Students will identify the five food groupings and recognize the importance of eating a variety of foods for dinner.
Materials: One note card and pencil for each student
  1. Ask the students to form a circle.
  2. Next, ask them to name 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).
  3. Then, ask them why it’s important to eat foods from all of the food groupings (because each food grouping benefits your body in different ways, such as vegetables, which keep your heart healthy and milk and milk products, which strengthen bones).
  4. Give each student a piece of paper and a pencil.
  5. Tell them you are going to play "Lunch Menu" and they are dieticians. Explain that dieticians are nutrition experts who can help people plan their diets.
  6. Next, Tell them to write their name on their note card and then leave it (and their pencil) on the floor in their spot.
  7. Explain that on your signal they should move around the area using a loco-motor movement you name such as skip, hop on one foot, jump, slide, etc. When you say "MENU", students should find the nearest free note card and pencil.
  8. 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 lunch 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. If you would like, 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.

Activity Note

If a student’s menu includes a food high in fat or added sugar, gently guide her or him to come up with a healthier alternative.


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—contain vitamin D and calcium which keep bones and teeth strong. Includes low-fat or skim milk, yogurt, and cottage, cheddar, mozzarella, and gouda cheese.
  • Vegetables and fruits—contain vitamins A, B, and C which make eyes sparkle, skin smooth, and help fight off colds, and they 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.
  • Meats, beans, and nuts—contain iron which makes blood healthy, brains grow, and builds muscles. Includes peanut butter, grilled chicken, turkey, salmon, and tuna.
  • Grains—contain carbohydrates which give the body energy. Includes whole wheat pasta, bread, brown rice.

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

Less Healthy ("Empty"/"Slow") Lunch Foods and Drinks:

  • hamburgers
  • hot dogs
  • creamy soups
  • white bread
  • soft drinks
  • cookies
  • potato chips
  • fried chicken
  • french fries
  • fried fish sticks
  • pepperoni pizza

Related National Standards

NHES: 1.8.1, 1.8.2, 5.8.6, 7.8.1, 7.8.2
NSPE: 1, 5
NS: NS.5-8.6

Further information about the national standards can be found here.

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