Familiar with the five-a-day message but struggling to persuade your kids to eat their fruit and veg? Read on for 30 practical tips to get more fruit and veg into your child’s diet.


The food a child eats in their early years can influence their dietary habits later in life, so it’s important to instil the right habits and to nurture a healthy relationship with food. Guidelines suggest that three balanced meals a day with up to two healthy snacks should ensure your child’s nutritional needs are met. Introducing new foods regularly helps maintain balance and interest and encourages your child to explore new tastes and textures.

What counts as your five-a-day?

A selection of fruit and vegetables

All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables counts towards the five-a-day target. Ideally aim for two portions of fruit and three of vegetables each day.

Why should my child eat five-a-day?

Regularly eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables may help your child:

  • maintain a healthy weight
  • support their body's ability to fight off infection
  • maintain a healthy gut and digestive system
  • build strong, healthy bones
  • support a healthy heart and circulation
  • reduce inflammation
  • support healthy eyes and vision
  • and reduce the risk of certain cancers.

How much does my child need to eat?

A child eating a banana

There is no set guidance on the portion size for children, it really depends on your child’s age, gender and activity levels. A useful tip is to aim for an amount that fits in the palm of your child's hand. However, because fruit and vegetables are typically low in energy and nutrient-rich your child may eat larger portions if they wish.

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Are there any fruits and vegetables that should be limited?

Fruit juices, smoothies and purées made from 100 per cent fruit (no added sugar) count only once towards your five-a-day. This is because juices and smoothies are a source of 'free sugar' the type we are advised to cut back on. For this reason, guidelines recommend we limit our intake to one (150ml glass) per day.

Beans and pulses also only count once. This is because, although they are a good source of protein and fibre, they don't contribute the same mix of vitamins and minerals that other fruit and vegetables do.

What doesn't count towards your five-a-day?

Little boy eating

Potatoes, yam, plantain and cassava do not count, although sweet potatoes and squash do. The reason for this is that regular white potatoes and yam are often included as the starchy component of a meal, replacing pasta, rice, bread and noodles.

30 easy ways to encourage your child to eat their five-a-day

Helping your child hit their five-a-day is easier than you think, check out these practical tips:

Start the day well

1. Make it savoury

30 easy ways to give kids five-a-day

Savoury breakfasts can make a more sustaining start to the day – use favoured ingredients like baked beans, serve on toast or alongside eggs or ham.

½-2 tbsp baked beans counts as one of five-a-day.

2. Breakfast with a twist

30 easy ways to give kids five-a-day

Kids are much more likely to eat vegetables when they’re served in a fun or interesting way – try these egg wraps with tomatoes and mushrooms.

3. Hide the veg

Pan of eggs with tomatoes and pepper

Leafy greens wilt down when added to hot dishes making them the perfect partner for eggs or beans.

½-2 tbsp green leafy veg counts as one portion.

The whole family will love these saucy bean baked eggs.

4. Go for mighty mushrooms

Two dishes with tomatoes, mushrooms and eggs topped with rocket

Grill some mushrooms and serve with toast and ham or try our mushroom baked eggs with squished tomatoes.

1-4 button mushrooms counts as one portion.

5. Add a touch of sweetness

Multiple bowls of carrot cake porridge

If your little ones prefer a sweet start to the day, sprinkle sultanas or raisins on porridge or fortified cereal. Make sure you limit these options to meal times only and no more than once per day because of their free sugar content.

Try our carrot cake porridge or our tasty apple & sultana porridge.

½-1 tbsp dried fruit counts as one portion.

6. Use whole fruits

Baking dish of oats with whole bananas. In a bowl is a serving

Adding natural sugars to porridge and breakfast cereals in the form of sweeter varieties of fruit is a healthier option to table sugar or syrups. Tropical fruits like banana, pineapple or mango are useful – our baked banana porridge makes the perfect example.

7. Fresh and juicy

Three glasses of green smoothie

Serve a glass of 100 per cent unsweetened juice alongside breakfast. This is another one which should be limited to mealtimes and no more than once per day.

1 small glass (150ml) counts as one portion.

8. Start the day strong

A pan of veg topped with eggs, plus a serving on a plate next to it

At the weekend, make breakfast more substantial with a brunch the whole family will enjoy, such as this one pan egg & veg brunch.

Snack well

9. Dips and dippers

Ramekin of dip next to fingers of vegetables

Tasty dips with vegetable sticks, cherry tomatoes or slices of sweet pepper make nutritious finger food. If your child doesn’t like strong flavours like garlic, they’ll love our kid-friendly version of hummus.

How much is a portion?

½-2 tbsp hummus

2-6 small slices of pepper, cucumber or carrot sticks

2-4 cherry tomatoes

10. Sweet enough

Rainbow fruit kebabs

Make fruit more interesting by combining bright colours on skewers or creating frozen treats like our vegan banana ice cream.

Try these delicious favourites:

Frozen banana lollies
Watermelon pops
Frozen banana ghosts

How much is a portion?

½-1 thin slice of melon

1 small banana

3-10 grapes

3-10 berries

½-1 apple, pear or tangerine

Lighter lunches

11. Perfect pasta salad

Pasta salad in yellow storage container

Versatile salads can be packed up and taken to school, this Greek salad pasta is perfect, and school-age children can get involved in cooking it themselves.

Pasta salads the whole family will love:

Quick & easy pasta salad
Tuna pasta salad
Pasta with salmon & peas
Layered rainbow salad pots

12. It's got to be pizza

Pizza topped with healthy veg

Family favourites don’t have to be off limits, our rainbow pizza uses a light, crisp base and is topped with passata, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and olives.

Why not create your own version, baking the base from scratch.

13. Super soups

Bowl of carrot & parsnip soup topped with parsley

Naturally sweet root vegetables make the perfect base for a delicious soup, our carrot & parsnip version supports the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, helps maintain energy and keeps hunger at bay.

Try these kid-friendly soups:

Tomato soup with tear & share cheesy bread
Tomato soup with cheese & Marmite twists
Tomato soup
Honeyed carrot soup
Roasted sweet potato & carrot soup

14. Savvy swaps

Tray of corn on the cob, sweet potato wedges and sausages

Although regular potatoes don’t count towards your five-a-day, sweet potatoes do, so making a simple swap is an easy way to up your child’s nutrients. Another one is swapping out pasta, like spaghetti, for courgetti.

Check out these tasty ideas:

Baked sweet potatoes & beans
Barbecue baked sweet potatoes
Sausage, sweet potato & sweetcorn bake

15. Fabulous frittata

Frittata in a pan and a slice on a plate

A veg-loaded frittata makes a nutritious choice and its versatility means it can be enjoyed for brunch, lunch or supper.

Here are some of our favourites:

Masala frittata with avocado salsa
Ham, mushroom & spinach frittata
Ricotta, tomato & spinach frittata
Easy oven frittata

16. That's a wrap

Veggie wraps and fruit in a lunchbox

Switch up their sandwiches and offer these tasty options instead:

Veggie burritos
Super-salad wraps
Spicy chicken & avocado wraps
Roasted chickpea wraps

17. Lovely lunchbox

Lunchbox with falafel, cucumber, pomegranate seeds, tomatoes and carrot

Make your little one's lunchbox special with these smart veg-packed ideas.

Falafel lunchbox
Chicken taco salad
BLT pasta salad

After school

18. Fruity options

Chocolate covered tangering slices

If snacking from the fruit bowl just doesn’t happen, dress up whole fruit with these tempting ideas:

Choco-dipped tangerines
Frozen tropical fruit yogurt
Fruity skewers with yogurt dip
Fruity sundae
Apple crunch

19. Cool it

Three cups of watermelon and strawberry slushie

On hot days get your kids to reach for something cooling yet good for them with one of our iced coolers.

Frozen fruit sticks with passionfruit & lime drizzle
Watermelon & strawberry slushie
Vegan orange lollies
Rainbow fruit lollies
Watermelon lollies

20. Be prepared

Three slices of avocado toast topped with turkey slices

Bridge the gap between school and supper with savoury snacks that’ll provide at least one of your five-a-day. Make sure you have the ingredients to throw these together:

Turkey & avocado toast
Pitta pocket

Nourishing dinners

21. Flavour-boosting ingredients

Bowl of pasta topped with rocket and parmesan shards

It’s easier than you think to boost the fruit and veg in their meals. Check out these family favourites that all supply two of your five-a-day.

Pasta with tomato & hidden veg sauce
Vegetarian lasagne
Roasted aubergine & tomato curry
Chicken & veg casserole
Piri-piri chicken with smashed sweet potatoes & broccoli

How much is a portion?

1 tbsp of tomato puree

½-1 small onion

½-2 tbsp sweetcorn

22. Try something new

Golden couscous with apricots & crispy onions

Keep mealtimes different by introducing a new fruit or veg each week – experiment with sweet fruits added to a savoury dish or just try a new veggie side.

Get started with these ideas:

Pomegranate chicken with almond couscous
Golden couscous with apricots & crispy onions
Spiced lamb meatball stew
Parsnip & celeriac bake

23. Pack in the pulses

Tray of sausages with tomatoes and other veg

Packed with fibre, a useful plant source protein and a budget-busting way to make meat go further, adding beans and pulses to meals boosts your five-a-day. Here are some ways to use them:

Sausage & white bean casserole
Chipotle sweet potato & black bean stew with cheddar dumplings
Easy lentil curry
Lentil bolognese

½-2 tbsp of cooked lentils, peas or beans counts as one portion.

24. Savvy sides

Roasted parsnip and carrot

A side dish can add one or more to your 5 a day count – try these tasty ideas.

Sweet potato wedges
Harissa sweet potato wedges
Broad beans & peas with mint butter
Honey-roasted carrots & parsnips

How much is a portion?

½-2 tbsp sweetcorn

3-6 wedges sweet potato

3 small florets of broccoli

½-2 tbsp spring greens

25. Tea time for toddlers

Pizza made to look like a face

Make tea fun with recipes like our pizza veggie face.

Check out other ideas to cram in more of their five-a-day with our toddler recipes.

26. Summer favourites

Skewers of pork and pineapple with lime wedges

Build five-a-day into your BBQ with recipes like our jerk pork & pineapple skewers. If your kids tend to avoid the salad bowl, give these tempting recipes a go:

Chicken shish kebabs
Healthy burgers
Griddled glazed vegetable kebabs

27. Get them cooking

Sloppy joes with brussels sprout slaw

Kids are far more likely to eat the food they’ve prepared and cooked themselves, so get older children involved in the prep. Here’s some ideas to get you started:

Salmon & spaghetti supper in a parcel
Sloppy joes with brussels sprout slaw
Spaghetti & meatballs with hidden veg sauce
Really easy roast chicken

28. Berry nice

Instant frozen berry yogurt

Give them naturally sweet berries for an after-dinner treat. Strawberries are low in calories and packed with vitamin C, just seven berries count as one of your five-a-day. Try these delicious ideas:

Instant frozen berry yogurt
Strawberry labneh
Vegan strawberry pancakes

29. Perfect puds

Mini apple & blackberry puddings

Who doesn’t love a pudding? These fruity ideas are handy for increasing your child’s five-a-day count:

Mini apple & blackberry puddings
Apricot & raspberry tart
Juicy Lucy pudding
Fruity fondue

30. Before bed snack

Hands spooning out the innards of a kiwi

Certain fruits including kiwi, banana, pineapple and oranges have been reported to increase levels of melatonin, the hormone that helps manage sleep patterns. So if tummies are still rumbling in the evening, a snack that includes one of these fruits may help, and shouldn’t disrupt a peaceful night.

Get inspired with our five-a-day recipes.

Enjoyed this? Now read...

12 ways to get your five-a-day
Top 5 health benefits of frozen fruit and vegetables
Top 5 health benefits of canned fruit and vegetables
Top 5 health benefits of dried fruit
Healthy foods kids will love
Top 5 healthy family meals
A balanced diet for toddlers
A balanced diet for school children

This page was reviewed on 11 March 2024 by Kerry Torrens

Kerry Torrens is a qualified Nutritionist (MBANT) with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including Good Food.

All health content on goodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.


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