Step 9: Price and Getting Down to Business

cost of healthly eating

In Step 9 we look at pricing Everyday foods and drinks to encourage students to choose them.

Pricing Everyday foods

The cost of an item is often the deciding factor for students when buying from a canteen. Pricing Everyday foods and drinks favourably can be that final nudge they need to make a healthier choice.

Knowing how students typically spend their money in the canteen can help you to get savvy with pricing. Primary school students tend to spend their money all in one go, while high school students generally want value for money and look for specials.

5 Top Tips for pricing your menu items:

  • Use a spreadsheet to work out how to price your items to cover costs. Healthy Kids Association has developed a mark-up tool to help you with this. There are instructions on the sheet to help you compare your current prices of items with the suggested selling prices.
  • Review your menu prices regularly when using seasonal goods
  • Check invoices for changes in the price of supplied goods
  • One size doesn’t fit all – find the best fit by keeping records to see what is the appropriate mark up for your canteen – and for each menu item
  • Price Everyday foods and drinks with a lower mark-up and price Occasional items with a higher mark-up

Everyday meal deals and combos

What is a meal deal/combo?

Typically, a meal deal is a main meal with a drink and snack sold together as an easy and affordable lunch option.

Why create Everyday meal deals and combos?

  • Promote healthier choices at a lower price
  • Foods work best as a team! Combos will help kids to eat from a variety of food groups (e.g. combine a chicken and salad sandwich with a piece of fruit and milk)
  • Clear certain stock items
  • Revive the popularity of items

Note: Occasional items should not be included in meal deals or combos as these items should not be promoted

What types of Everyday foods and drinks could be included in meal deal combos?

  • Foods and drinks which are new or seasonal
  • Foods and drinks that need to sell quickly
  • Popular foods and drinks
  • Low selling foods and drinks
  • Foods and drinks that are often bought together


Specials are foods and drinks that have been discounted to provide a high value - low price option.

  • Specials can change daily or weekly (e.g. Soup of the day, Sandwich of the day, burger of the week)
  • Specials can be promoted in a number of ways:
    • At point of sale (canteen window) with a small blackboard or poster
    • In the school newsletter
    • On the school’s social media page/s
    • In school announcements, roll call or assembly
  • Often specials can be prepared in bulk ahead of time to reduce their cost

Note: As with meal deals, specials should only include Everyday foods and drinks.

If you have any questions after completing this step, contact the Healthy Kids Support line on (02) 9876 1300 or 1300 724 850 if you are calling from outside of Sydney.


Activity 1: Pricing Everyday foods

Think about the current selling prices of your Everyday and Occasional food items and work out how much mark-up you’re currently applying to Everyday and Occasional items on your menu. Where can you change the selling price to help students make healthier choices?

Activity 2: Healthy Everyday meal deals and combos

Create three meal deal ideas that promote the Everyday foods and drinks on your menu using the tips above.

Activity 3: Marketing a healthy canteen checklist

Complete the Marketing a healthy canteen checklist

  • Include only Everyday items in meal deals or specials
  • Are your prices appropriate for parents and students?
  • Does your menu offer good value? Are foods priced similarly to foods outside school?
  • Is Everyday food favourably priced compared with Occasional food to make it more attractive to purchase?
  • Do you offer Everyday food specials and meal deals?

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