Handy food basics

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It is a good idea to have a variety of everyday foods in the cupboard and fridge. That way, you can make a simple meal or snack.

Which foods should I choose?

Try to include foods from each of the food groups. Below are some everyday options from each of the food groups. Frozen, dried, canned and fresh foods are all nutritious options.

Food groupFoods to choose

Grain (cereal) foods

  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Couscous
  • Noodles
  • Rolled oats and breakfast cereals
  • Bread, bread rolls, crumpets or muffins
  • Crispbreads, rice cakes and rice crackers
  • Flour to make baked items such as scones, pikelets.


  • Tinned vegetables and legumes
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Seasonal vegetables from local community gardens, your own garden or farmers markets
  • Dehydrated vegetables such as beans, lentils and potato.


  • All fresh fruit
  • Tinned fruit in natural juice
  • Dried fruit – try to limit to no more than once a week
  • Frozen fruit
  • Consider freezing left over fresh fruit for smoothies and muffins.

Dairy and alternatives

  • Fresh milk
  • Milk powder
  • Evaporated skim milk
  • Long life (UHT) milk
  • Plant based milks fortified with 1,000mg of calcium
  • Custard – chilled, long life or powdered
  • Tinned rice pudding
  • Yoghurt
  • Cheese
  • Cream cheese – try to limit to no more than once a week.

Lean meats and alternatives

  • Fresh meat, chicken or fish
  • Cheaper cuts of meat for making casseroles and stews
  • Tofu*
  • Eggs*
  • Peanut butter or other nut butters*
  • Nuts or seeds*
  • Legumes and lentils
  • When baking casseroles or stews, replace some of the meat with legumes (for example kidney beans or chickpeas)
  • Canned fish such as tuna, salmon and sardines.

* Check your service or school policy

Tips for buying safe foods

  • Check the 'best before' and 'use by dates' before you purchase food. Products should not be eaten or sold past their 'use by' date. Products can be eaten after their 'best before' date but may have reduced quality after this date.
  • Do not buy food in damaged containers – especially canned foods. Do not store food in opened cans. Transfer to a sealable non-metal container after opening.
  • Do not buy cracked or dirty eggs. Ask for an exchange if you notice this at the checkout.
  • Buy cold or hot foods last and get them home fast. It can help to have an esky or insulated bag in your car to transport these items.