USDA 2016, Daily Food Checklist, Choose MyPlate, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Healthy Eating for Preschoolers

Use this Checklist as a general guide.

This food checklist is based on average needs. Do not be concerned if your child does not eat the exact amounts suggested. Your child may need more or less than average. For example, food needs increase during growth spurts.

Children’s appetites vary from day to day. Some days they may eat less than these amounts; other days they may want more. Let your child choose how much to eat. Throughout a day, ofer amounts shown below.

Food Group 2 years old 3 years old 4 and 5 years old What counts as


Focus on whole fruits

1 cup 1 - 1 1/2 cups 1 - 1 1/2 cups ½ cup of fruit? ½ cup mashed, sliced, or chopped fruit ½ cup 100% fruit juice ½ small banana
4-5 large strawberries


Vary your veggies

1 cup 1 - 1 1/2 cups 1 1/2 - 2 cups ½ cup of veggies? ½ cup mashed, sliced, or chopped vegetables 1 cup raw leafy greens ½ cup vegetable juice 1 small ear of corn


Make half your grains whole grains

3 ounces 3 - 5 ounces 4 - 5 ounces 1 ounce of grains? 1 slice bread 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal fakes ½ cup cooked oatmeal, rice, or pasta 1 tortilla (6” across)


Vary your protein routine

2 ounces 2 - 4 ounces 3 - 5 ounces 1 ounce of protein foods? 1 ounce cooked meat, poultry, or seafood 1 egg 1 Tablespoon peanut butter
¼ cup cooked beans or peas (kidney, pinto, lentils)


Choose low-fat or fat free milk or yogurt

2 cups 2 - 21/2 cups 21/2 cups ½ cup of dairy? ½ cup milk 4 ounces yogurt ¾ ounce cheese

Some foods are easy to choke on while eating. Children need to sit when eating. Foods like hot dogs, grapes, and raw carrots need to be cut into small pieces the size of a nickel. Be alert if serving 3- to 5-year-olds foods like popcorn, nuts, seeds, or other hard foods.

There are many ways to divide the Daily Food Checklist into meals and snacks.

Learn more about the author(s)


Extension Director's Office | On the campus of University of Nevada, Reno