If it’s your job to organise the catering supplies and equipment for your school canteen – give yourself a pat on the back. It can sometimes feel like a thankless job, but a canteen is a vital part of the school system. Feeding hundreds of hungry school children is certainly not an easy job and getting the balance between what’s healthy and what’s tasty can be tricky.
The Western Australian School Canteen Association (WASCA) has put together several publications to help people successfully operate a commercial canteen kitchen. These cover essential issues like:
- Food safety and hygiene
- Food allergies
- Kitchen equipment
- Financially managing your canteen
- Healthy menu options
When the temperature drops, canteens look to bring in food that’ll warm the belly. But you need to make sure that you’re only introducing food that’s approved by the Western Australian Department of Education’s Healthy Food and Drink Policy. To help you keep your kitchen canteen healthy, we’ve put together some top winter food ideas.
Catering supplies that obey the traffic lights
The Department of Education has set out a traffic light guide to highlight which foods should feature heavily on a canteen menu and which food should be avoided. The Green, Amber and Red system makes it easy to introduce a healthy seasonal menu and work out what kitchen equipment you need.
Your canteen supplies should be made up of mainly green foods, which include cereal foods, vegetables, sandwiches and rolls with healthy fillings and reduced fat dairy. In winter, you may introduce other green foods like corn on the cob, pasta, noodles or rice dishes. More elaborate meals may include lean meats, fish and chicken or pasta bakes, curry and rice, frittatas and soup.
Food traps to avoid in winter
It can be easy to fall into a trap of supplying unhealthy winter foods. One piece of equipment that shouldn’t be in any canteen is a deep fryer. Deep-fried food may sound warming, but it is definitely in the red zone and should be off the canteen menu. So too are full-fat pastry items.
There are many options in the amber zone that could fill a canteen in winter but be careful not to overdo it. Remember, amber foods should only make up a maximum of 40% of your total canteen food. These foods can include winter favourites such as hot dogs and sausage sizzles, hamburgers and pizza. Remember, these products still need to contain only a moderate amount of saturated fat/sugar/sodium.
Winter meal ideas
Fried Rice (Green Category)
A simple favourite that is packed full of vegetables and is guaranteed to keep away any afternoon hunger pains. It’s also easy to prepare small or large quantities and can be served in paper or bamboo dishes. Add it to the menu!
Calzone (Green Category)
Simple ingredients, quick to cook and easy to eat. The WASCA offers recipes for meat or vegetarian calzones. If you’re already preparing pizza bases, you can use the bases to make calzones. The only cooking equipment you’ll need to get them warm and toasty is a sandwich press.
Macaroni and Cheese (Green Category)
If it’s not on the menu already, it should be. Served warm, ‘mac ‘n cheese’ will go down a treat with kids of any age. Serve in foil packaging to keep it hot and fresh.
Meatball Sub (Green Category)
A healthy meal that can be served warm. Meatball subs can be prepared using lean beef mince and can be combined with delicious vegetables. Once cooked the meatball subs can be wrapped in greaseproof paper and placed in a pie warmer.
WASCA has a whole range of recipes for canteens. Before you go gathering your catering supplies, visit their recipe ideas online.
If you need more information or inspiration, plus food packaging and kitchen equipment to keep your food fresh, contact Stanlee Hospitality Supplies. We’re one of Perth’s largest kitchenware and food packaging suppliers and our team are always ready to assist with your enquiries.