The importance of portion size

Portion sizes have become larger over time. It is important for your school canteen to provide food and drinks in appropriate serving sizes for children. Getting the portion size right can also help you control food costs. To assist, recommended portion size limits have been set for some Everyday and all Occasional food and drinks.

The different recommended portion size limits for primary schools and secondary schools reflect the different energy and nutritional needs of growing children and young people.

Find the recommended portion size limits in the Menu item ready reckoner.

Kindergarten to Year 12 (K-12) schools

  • K–12 school canteens are encouraged to provide differentiated portion sizes to meet the recommended limits for both primary and secondary students, except where it isn't practical to provide separate portion sizes for each group.
  • You should also aim to provide primary students only with the lower maximum portion sizes and limit access to caffeinated drinks (such as diet cola and coffee) to secondary students only.

To determine whether products should be sold, you need to know their portion size. Portion size is the size of the meal, snack or drink as it is sold in the school canteen.

Packaged foods sold in individual portions

  • The weight (grams) or volume (mL for drinks and ice-cream) is on the front of the pack.

Food sold from a multi-pack

  • The portion (serving) size is on the nutrition information found on the large pack.

Nutritional information

Servings per package: 12

Average serving size: 50g (1 cup)

Table showing portion size
Quantity per servingQuantity per 100g
Fat, total3.5g7.1g
-sugars 11.6g23.2g
Dietary fibre3.1g6.2g
Sodium 15mg31mg

Food portions from a bulk catering pack

  • If you buy large catering trays from a wholesaler – such as banana bread, lasagne or potato bake – you need to ensure the portions you sell are the recommended size for canteens listed in the Menu item ready reckoner.
  • The suggested serving size on the pack may be too large. You can weigh a portion on digital kitchen scales, if available.

Food cooked or prepared on site

  • The portion control is done for you when you use the Healthy recipe ideas and serve out the correct number of portions per recipe.
  • If you use your own recipe, such as when making muffins, use the standard 12-cup tray that makes muffins that weigh approximately 60g.
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