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Planning a Healthy Menu Using the Food Pyramid Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #: AELP-NUT0009
Submitted by: Melissa M. Embacher
Endorsed by: Dr. Don E. Descy, Mankato State University Date: November 5, 1996

Grade Level(s): 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8


  • Health/Nutrition


This lesson requires students to use their knowledge of the food groups to plan a healthy meal. The meal needs to include an entree, at least one side dish, and beverage. This lesson is an excellent culminating activity for a nutrition unit.

Goal: The students will understand how the food pyramid can help to plan healthy meals.


  • The students will use their knowledge of the food pyramid to plan a full meal that incorporates at least one serving of food from each group.
  • The students will be able to classify their ingredients according to the food groups.
  • Background Information:

    The menus that the students design can be bound together into a book. This would be great to set out at conference time. If using this activity with older students you may want to have the students analyze the nutritional value of the meal in relation to the daily guidelines for vitamins, minerals, etc.


    Copies of Sample Menu
    Writing Paper
    Writing Utensils
    Visual of the Food Pyramid (optional)


  • Review the food groups with the students.
  • Tell the students that they are going to design a menu for one meal that includes at least one serving of food from each food group.
  • The menu must include an entree, or main dish, at least one side dish, and a beverage.
  • Write the requirements of the assignment in a highly visible area of the room, such as on the chalkboard.
  • Pass out the sample menu located at the end of this lesson, and discuss it with the class. Does it meet the requirements? How?
  • Encourage the students to get creative with the assignment.
  • Provide time for the students to work. Help as little as possible, if this is an end of the unit assessment.
  • As students finish, look over the assignment with them. Have the students identify which of the food groups each of the ingredients belongs to.
  • Closure: Discuss the menus as a class. Have students share their meal ideas.
  • Send this assignment home with the students. Have them write out the recipe and directions with the help of an adult.
  • Making the Cookbook: When all menus and recipes are returned, proofread them and hand them back to the students.
  • Have the students make a final copy and turn it in to you.
  • Design an interesting cover and bind the pages together.
  • Keep the cookbook in your classroom for students to review. Display the cookbook for parents to see at conference time.
  • Assessment:

  • Have the students write out which food group each ingredient in their menu belongs to.
  • Does each menu include at least 1 item from each of the food groups?
  • ******************************************************************

    Chef ___________________

    Tuna Casserole
    Lettuce Salad

    Tuna Casserole

    1 can of tuna in water
    2 cups egg noodles
    1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
    1 can of peas

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil noodles for 8 minutes, then drain. Also drain tuna and peas. Combine all ingredients in a casserole dish and mix by hand until ingredients are evenly distributed. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

    Lettuce Salad:


    variety of lettuce
    grated carrots
    cherry tomatoes
    low-fat salad dressing

    Rinse lettuce and tomatoes in cold water. Put the lettuce on the salad plate first, then top with grated carrots and tomatoes. Add dressing sparingly.

    Serving Hints:
    If you put the salad together while the tuna casserole is baking, it will still be fresh and crisp when the tuna casserole is ready.