Essentials shopping list

Items on the Essentials Shopping List are not intended to be eaten alone. They can be used in the preparation of both Everyday or Occasional food and drink, and may help to make an Everyday meal or snack more appealing.

To make it easier for canteens to find suitable products, these ingredients do not require a Health Star Rating. Some of the ingredients on the list should only be used in small amounts, and salt-reduced or reduced-fat varieties should be used where available.

Tip: Swap Occasional ingredients for Essentials to create more Everyday foods on your menu.

✓ Buy Avoid
Healthy oils
e.g. canola, sunflower, olive, grapeseed, corn and soybean.
Palm, coconut, palm kernel oils including solid coconut oil for baking and any animal fats such as lard or duck fat.
✓ BuyX  Avoid
  • Margarine
  • Yeast spreads and vegetable extracts*
  • Jam/marmalade/honey/golden syrup
  • Red, white and balsamic vinegar
  • Lemon or lime juice
  • Salad dressings* made from oils listed above e.g. French, mayonnaise, aioli, ranch and Caesar dressing
  • Dressings containing cheese or cream
  • Butter
  • Chocolate nut spread

*Use in small amounts, lightly spread or use individual portion packs.

✓ Buy X Avoid
  • Pastry (puff, shortcrust, filo) - look for packaged products that have a Health Star Rating (HSR) of 3.5 or above. Filo to be prepared with only small amounts of oil listed above.
  • All other pastry
✓ Buy X  Avoid
Herbs, spices and seasoning
  • Fresh and dried herbs and spices
  • Curry powder and pastes
  • Seasoning packets (use salt-reduced where available), for example, taco seasoning
  • Salt (Himalayan, rock, table, sea, chicken, popcorn)
  • All other seasonings

✓ Buy

X  Avoid

  • Stock or soup base (use salt-reduced where available)
  • All other stocks
✓ BuyX  Avoid
  • Milk, including milk alternatives with added calcium, such as soy or rice milks (preferably reduced fat)
  • Cheese, including cottage and cream cheese, preferably reduced fat
  • Yoghurts with no added confectionery (preferably reduced fat)
  • Butter (including lemon, garlic and dairy blends)
  • Cream or sour cream
  • Milk alternatives with no added calcium such as soy or rice milks
✓ Buy X Avoid
  • Recipe bases/cooking sauces
  • Tomato paste
  • Tomato and other table sauces, e.g. BBQ, sweet chilli, fish, soy, sauce and gravies (use salt-reduced where available)
  • Pesto
  • Cranberry, apple and mint sauces
  • Chutney, pickles, mustard, horseradish, chilli, relish and salsa
  • marinades
  • Vinegar (distilled, rice, cider, balsamic)
  • Reduced-fat/light coconut cream and coconut milk
  • Sauces made with cream or butter
  • Regular coconut milk and coconut cream
✓ Buy X  Avoid
  • Sugar (brown, caster or raw; single-serve packs for beverages), honey and syrups, e.g. maple and golden syrups. Limit use in canteen-made recipes.
  • Desiccated coconut (in small amounts)
  • Baking powder or bicarb soda
  • Milk flavourings, syrups and powder - look for packaged products (up to 1 tablespoon per portion)
  • Cocoa
  • Vanilla essence
  • Yeast, instant dried
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Flour (preferably wholemeal)
  • Pancake and pikelet mix
  • Eggs
  • Food colour
  • Gelatine, agar
  • Confectionery, e.g. hundreds and thousands, chocolate chips, icing.
✓ Buy X  Avoid
  • Milk flavourings, powder and syrups - use in small amounts (drinks should have less than 1 level tablespoon per portion)

Ingredients used in the "Avoid' column should not be used in your school canteen.

Return to top of page