Introducing Everyday and Occasional

The Food and Drink Criteria classifies menu items as Everyday or Occasional. At least ¾ of your canteen menu should be Everyday foods and drinks, with Occasional items making up no more than ¼ of your menu.

The 5 food groups healthy eating guide; vegetables, grain, lean meats, fruit and dairy

Everyday food

Everyday foods and drinks are those made from the five food groups (plus water*). They can be fresh, made on the premises or packaged. Maximum portion sizes apply to flavoured milk, juices and hot meals. See the Everyday food and drinks list for examples.

* Children need water as their main drink. Chilled, filtered, spring or sparkling water are suitable options.

Five food groups

  1. Vegetables, and legumes/beans.
  2. Fruit, including fresh, dried, frozen, canned in juice, 99% fruit juice.
  3. Grain foods, including bread, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, oats – wholegrain and high-fibre varieties are recommended.
  4. Lean meats and alternatives, including poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, legumes and beans.
  5. Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives – choose mostly reduced-fat varieties. Choose milk alternatives such as soy, rice or almond milk with calcium added.

Occasional food

Occasional foods and drinks are generally higher in saturated fat, sugars or salt, with less nutritional value than Everyday foods. They are not needed as part of a healthy diet and should be eaten only sometimes and in small amounts.

Maximum portion sizes apply and Occasional food and drinks should not be promoted. If packaged, Occasional food and drinks should have a Health Star Rating of 3.5 and above. See the Occasional food and drinks list for examples.

Combining Everyday and Occasional food

When you combine an Occasional ingredient with an Everyday item, the end product is an Occasional item.


In addition to stocking your fridge and pantry with Everyday food, you can use items listed in the Essentials shopping list in your preparation and cooking to make healthy Everyday items.

Adding one or more items from the Essentials list will not change the status of an Everyday or Occasional food or drink.

Restricted foods

  • Sugary drinks (also known as sugar-sweetened beverages) cannot be sold in NSW school canteens or vending machines.
  • Caffeinated drinks cannot be sold in primary school canteens.
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