Nursery Food: Snack time - Bite size

Ruth Thomson
Monday, October 20, 2014

Snack time is now recognised as an important contributor to daily nutrition. Here, a selection of nurseries share their approaches.

Once a biscuit and a cup of milk around the table, snack time in early years settings has changed immeasurably over the years. As well as giving far greater heed to the nutritional content of snacks, settings are now offering a greater variety of foods, adapting the presentation and seeing snack time as a great opportunity to introduce children to new flavours. We spoke to some of them.


Holly Hirst, head of the junior school, The Royal School, Hindhead, Surrey

'When reviewing our menus, it became increasingly clear to us that we needed to think of snack time as another opportunity to provide children with a nutritious meal (albeit a very small one), rather than viewing it as a "stop gap" before the main event of lunch or tea.

'Once we began to look at the nutritional needs of the children in the context of three medium-sized meals (breakfast, lunch and tea) and two smaller meals (morning and afternoon snack), the rebalancing process began. We also redesigned the format of our weekly menus to show snack time as a separate meal, so parents could see how each day was organised.

'Our snacks include houmous dip with sugar snap peas, crispbread with cream cheese and red berries, mackerel pate with wholemeal toast fingers and popcorn with sticks of celery and peppers. The nursery children's favourites are chicken wraps or pancake and sliced apple.'


Mary Llewellin, operations co-ordinator, Snapdragons Nurseries, Somerset and Wiltshire

'When we opened 16 years ago, snacks were a very simple affair - usually a biscuit and a cup of milk, or even squash. Our snack menu has evolved over the years to take account of new research into childhood nutrition, obesity and dental health. So, for example, we've had to rethink raisins (now seen as a major cause of tooth decay; see page 9) and wholegrains (which can affect young children's absorption of nutrients unless used sparingly).

'We're making changes and trying new things all the time. Recently, on the advice of the Children's Food Trust and to provide choice, we've started to offer both a carbohydrate-based snack and a fruit or vegetable morning and afternoon - instead of fruit or vegetable sticks mid-morning and carbohydrate in the afternoon. A typical snack now might consist of our chef Raquel's vegetable bread spread with butter or cream cheese, served with apple slices or carrot sticks.'

  • Snapdragons is Nursery World Food Award Winner 2014. See our feature for Raquel's vegetable bread recipe.


Michelle Smith, Triangle House Nursery, Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire

'We see snack time as a great opportunity to introduce children to a wide variety of flavours and textures. Enabling children to try a diversity of ingredients from a young age makes them confident, adventurous diners who are less likely to overindulge in junk foods when they are older.

'So, our children love the crunch of crudites with creamy home-made houmous, the spicy taste of onion bhajis and the soft, springy texture of potato gnocchi in a tasty tomato sauce. Another favourite is our chef Rachel's tomato, spinach and feta bake.'

- 100g butter
- 300g self-raising flour
- 175g feta cheese, cubed
- 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1tsp dried oregano
- 100ml milk
- 3 eggs
- 1 small pack baby leaf spinach

Nursery World Print & Website

  • Latest print issues
  • Latest online articles
  • Archive of more than 35,000 articles
  • Free monthly activity poster
  • Themed supplements

From £11 / month


Nursery World Digital Membership

  • Latest digital issues
  • Latest online articles
  • Archive of more than 35,000 articles
  • Themed supplements

From £11 / month


© MA Education 2024. Published by MA Education Limited, St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road, Herne Hill, London SE24 0PB, a company registered in England and Wales no. 04002826. MA Education is part of the Mark Allen Group. – All Rights Reserved