Our bodies need vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins and fat in order to remain consistently healthy. Children however need different amounts at different stages in their childhood. Research has proven how significant a child’s early years are in terms of long term health and well being. The first 5 years are so important for developing strong bones, teeth, muscles, brain and generally a healthy body. Of course it is very important to limit the amount of sugary foods and saturated fats. Naturally occurring sugars in fruits also need to be limited so not too many grapes, strawberries etc. Fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy are all vital components in a child’s diet and should be included in a varied, exciting and consistent way to ensure children get to experience tastes and enjoy food. Remember children need to try food at least three times before we conclude they don’t like them so if they don’t eat that piece of broccoli the first time, just keep trying.
From around one onwards your little one should be able to eat what the rest of the family eats but of course cut up and in smaller amounts. This routine is important for children so they get into the habit of consuming a healthy and varied diet.
Here at Daybreak Nurseries we are always very conscious of our children’s nutrition and reflect this in our seasonal menus. We have key members of staff who devise healthy but exciting tea menus. They also sit down with our chefs and discuss the lunch menu in great detail in order to be able to provide the best options for all children, taking into account a varied diet and making sure all food groups are included sufficiently throughout the nursery day.
Natalie our chef has been cooking for Daybreak for over a year now and has been vital in providing the yummy menus we use on a daily basis. With this in mind we are keen to find out more about her and her background in cooking. So please read on to see what our chef Natalie has to say about all things nutrition.
1. Hi Natalie, you’ve been with Daybreak for over a year now. How have you found working in nursery catering and how does it compare to your previous experiences?
Hi Kylie ! I have previously worked in restaurants, pubs, schools and nurseries . Typically my day as a nursery chef at Daybreak starts at 8am to ensure all my prep and cooking is done in time for lunch.Most other nurseries would typically have one chef per location who would do less hours but I am full time and cater for all four Daybreak sites at our kitchen at Amersham Chiltern Avenue .This means I can dedicate my time to ensure that children at all Daybreak sites are getting the same tasty ,nutritionally balanced lunches everyday.
2. Have you found that allergies, food aversions and preferences have changed since starting with us? How do you ensure that all preferences are catered for appropriately on a day to day basis?
Food allergies are always quite common in babies/younger children which most grow out of in later life .We try and encourage all of our children to try everything on our menu to help them develop good eating habits.I work closely with each nursery to produce paperwork that I refer to daily outlining any special dietary requirements.I also have regular meetings with nursery managers to discuss the progress of children with dietary requirements.
3. You cater for all four Daybreak sites; do you find it difficult catering for 100+ children? For example getting the right quantities, keeping the food at the correct temperature and the logistics of getting the food to the right destination.
On my busiest days I’m catering for 180 children which isn’t as complicated as it sounds ! I’ve previously done contract catering in a local girl’s school which helps estimate my portions.I have a Kitchen Assistant , Rob,who helps pack up food tins into giant thermo boxes and then delivers them to our three other sites within 45 minutes to ensure lunches are arriving piping hot and on time.
4. Do you feel the nursery menu caters for the children’s nutritional needs and how much input do you have in the final menu?
We have been doing the catering for the last 18 months and I believe our current menu is the best yet.We try to include different styles of cuisine as well as plenty of pulses and wholegrains too.Homemade cakes and biscuits are on the menu but I’ve carefully selected baked goodies that aren’t too sugary !
5. What is your previous experience in catering and has this helped your continuing journey at Daybreak?
I previously trained as a Chef at Aylesbury College and after my first year specialised in Pastry and Confectionery.I’ve been working in catering since I was 15 and have worked in various pubs and restaurants although in recent years I’ve been working in schools and nurseries.In my spare time I run my own cake business. All my previous roles have helped me in my role at Daybreak but my biggest interest is being able to use my baking skills to make desserts and cakes for children with special dietary requirements.
6. You have a strong interest in baking and have produced some great Cakes for Daybreak, is baking something you wish to take further in the future? If yes, what would you like to do?
I do love baking cakes ! Occasionally I do cakes for vintage fairs and weddings but Daybreak keeps me pretty busy.One day I would love to run my own cake shop.