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Food Groups

Traditionally, Kiwi meals have centred around ‘meat and three veg’. Roast lamb, potatoes, and vegetables have been a favourite for generations. Nowadays, this has been joined by influences from overseas, such as chilli con carne, burritos or butter chicken. But what they all have in common is they contain a variety of food groups.

Using food groups is a way of classifying foods according to the nutrients they provide. Here in New Zealand, the four food groups are:

We also have an ‘extras’ group for foods that don’t fit in the categories above.These foods include biscuits, cakes, pastry, lollies, chocolate, chips and fats and oils – all foods typically high in fat and/or sugar.

We need to eat a mixture of foods from the food groups each day. Below are some examples of how we can include foods from each food groups in everyday meals

  • Breakfast: wholegrain cereal topped with seasonal fruit and either milk or yoghurt.
  • Lunch: tuna salad or sandwich, and chopped fruit on the side.
  • Dinner: beef burritos made up of tortillas, mince, beans, salad and cheese topping.

Grain foods

This food group includes breads, rice, pasta, noodles, grains (eg. oats, corn, maize, quinoa, cornmeal/polenta) and breakfast cereals. 

Grain foods give us most of the carbohydrate we need for energy to see us through the day, help us concentrate at school and work, and to power us when we play sport or do exercise. They contain:

Lean meat and alternatives

This group includes a large number of foods - lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, tofu and other soy products, and legumes - cooked dried beans, peas and lentils.

Vegetables and fruit

All vegetables and fruit - fresh, frozen, canned (in natural juice), dried and juiced - are part of this food group.

Vegetables and fruit are power-packed foods - they are full of valuable nutrients which have lots of health benefits, including:

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