Occasional food and drinks list

These are mostly foods high in saturated fat, sugars and/or salt and often have little nutritional value. They are not needed as part of a healthy diet, so should be enjoyed only sometimes and in small amounts.

These foods and drinks are always Occasional – even when you make them yourself in the canteen using an approved recipe and ingredients e.g. a carrot cake made with Everyday ingredients and items from the 'Essentials shopping list' is still an Occasional food.


  • limit Occasional foods and drinks to no more than ¼ of your menu.
  • select the healthiest version of Occasional foods and drinks:
    • Choose those with a Health Star Rating (HSR) of 3.5 Stars and above.
  • keep to the recommended portion sizes.
  • sugary drinks should not be sold in NSW schools.

You should be able to find the following Occasional foods with a HSR of 3.5 and above

  • pies.
  • sausage rolls.
  • ice-cream.
  • muesli bars.
  • potato wedges.
  • crumbed/coated chicken.
  • salami.
  • salty snacks.
  • chips.
  • pretzels.

Few, if any of these Occasional foods have a HSR of 3.5 and above

  • cakes.
  • sweet biscuits.
  • pastries.
  • chocolate.
  • confectionery.

Sugary drinks are those with any types of sugar added to them, except milk

These include drinks sweetened with regular sugar (sucrose), fructose, glucose, honey/syrup and fruit juice concentrates. Examples are:

  • soft drinks.
  • iced teas.
  • flavoured mineral waters.
  • sports waters/drinks.
  • energy drinks.
  • fruit drinks containing less than 99% fruit/vegetable juice.
  • slushies.
  • cordials with added sugar.

Read our factsheet on Sugary drinks for more information.

Caffeinated drinks should not be sold in primary schools because caffeine is not recommended for children

They include:

  • coffees (latte/cappuccino/mochas).
  • iced coffee flavoured milks.
  • cola or other caffeinated soft drinks (including diet soft drink).
  • energy drinks.

Read our factsheet on Caffeinated drinks for more information.

Energy drinks should not to be sold in primary or secondary schools.

Table showing examples of Occasional food and drinks

Occasional food and drinks categoryExamples
Choose products with a HSR of 3.5 stars and above
Hot potato products and savoury pastries (do not deep-fry)
  • hot chips, wedges, gems, hash browns and scallops
  • pies, sausage rolls, spring rolls and samosas.
Savoury breads and instant noodles
  • garlic bread, cheese scrolls
  • hot noodle cups.
Meat products
  • crumbed and coated chicken, fish, beef, seafood and seafood extender
  • processed meats – bacon, corned beef, pastrami, devon, salami and sausages
  • bacon used in Occasional foods e.g. creamy sauce pasta, quiche lorraine.
Cakes, muffins, sweet pastries and biscuits; chocolate and confectionery
  • sweet pastries and breads, danishes, croissants, scrolls, waffles, baklava and doughnuts
  • cakes, slices and muffins
  • sweet biscuits – plain, coated, iced or filled with chocolate, cream, jam or icing.
Snacks: flavoured savoury biscuits, savoury and sweet snack foods
  • potato or corn chips/crisps/puffs/tubes
  • soy snacks, flavoured rice snacks, pretzels
  • flavoured savoury biscuits
  • wasabi peas, roasted chickpeas, roasted fava beans
  • flavoured popcorn
  • muesli bars.
Desserts and ice-creams
  • rice pudding, mousse, cheesecake.
  • ice-cream, frozen yoghurt, 99% juice ice blocks.
  • diet soft drinks (caffeinated soft drinks should not be provided in primary schools) – no HSR to be applied to diet soft drinks
  • milkshakes/smoothies made with ice-cream.

Foods made with any of the above items are Occasional meals.

Examples of Occasional mixed meals

  • chicken tenders and lettuce sandwich (crumbed chicken).
  • salami and cheese sandwich (salami).
  • tempura prawn sushi roll (crumbed seafood).
  • beef and bacon burger (bacon).
  • smoothie with milk, banana and ice-cream (ice-cream).
  • pepperoni pizza (processed meat).
  • nachos with beans/mince, salsa, etc. (corn chips).

Find out more

  • Find more examples of Everyday and Occasional foods and drinks at our Ready reckoner
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