Food Groups
Foods from the Four Main Food Groups

When planning healthy snacks and light meals it's best to combine foods from different food groups to improve the nutritional balance of the meal - for example, milk and breakfast cereal or a cheese and salad sandwich.

In general, foods can be divided into four main food groups as shown below.

Bread, Cereal and Potatoes

Bread, Cereals and Potatoes

  • Bread: wholemeal and granary bread, "high-fibre" white bread, pitta bread, French bread, bagels.
  • Crispbreads, crackers, oatcakes.
  • Naan bread, chapattis.
  • Wholemeal plain muffins.
  • Breakfast cereals: preferably wholegrain rather than sugar, honey or chocolate-coated varieties. Go for healthy choices such as Bran Flakes, Shredded Wheat, Weetabix, muesli or porridge.
  • Rice: cold rice can be mixed with vegetables, pulses, nuts etc. and plain fromage frais or yogurt to make a salad.
  • Pasta: cold pasta is a great salad base.
  • Potatoes: including sweet potatoes, yam, cassava and green banana.
Fruit and Vegetables

Fruit and Vegetables

  • All vegetables: whole, chopped, grated, in salads, as sandwich fillings or on their own.
  • Fresh fruit: raw or stewed - but without sugar.
  • Canned fruit in natural juice.
Milk and Dairy Foods

Milk and Dairy Foods

  • Milk: whole, semi-skimmed or skimmed.
  • Hard cheese: eg. Cheddar, Red Leicester etc. grated, sliced, in cubes or fingers.
  • Cottage cheese: plain, with pineapple, with prawns or chives.
  • Cheese spread or curd cheese.
  • Yogurt - plain and fruit-flavoured.
  • Fromage frais: plain and fruit-flavoured.
  • Quark.
Meat, Fish and Alternatives

Meat, Fish and Alternatives

  • Poultry: chicken breast or legs, turkey.
  • Lean meat: slices of lamb, beef, pork, ham or lean grilled bacon.
  • Liver sausage, pate, meat paste.
  • Sausage (including low-fat sausages) grilled.
  • Canned fish: tuna, pilchards, sardines, mackerel.
  • Fish paste or pate.
  • Eggs: hard-boiled, poached, scrambled or as an omelette.
  • Beans and lentils, hummus (chickpea spread), baked beans, tofu.
  • Nuts, including peanut butter.
  • Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower or sesame seeds are all delicious in salads as well as eaten on their own, tahini (sesame seed spread).
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