Vegetables and legumes have hundreds of natural nutrients as well as vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. They are an essential part of your child's daily dietary needs for growth and development.
To get the full value from this food group you should choose veggies that are in season and look for different colours:
- greens veggies like beans, peas, broccoli and spinach
- red, orange or yellow like capsicums, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potato and pumpkin
- purple like red cabbage and eggplant
- white including cauliflower, mushrooms or potatoes
Most vegetables can be eaten raw, but some are better when cooked.
Legumes, sometimes called 'pulses', are included in this food group because they are the seeds of plants and are high in fibre, protein and other vitamins and nutrients. They include baked beans, cannellini beans, chickpeas, lentils and soybeans. Legumes can be used in a variety of different ways, such as salads, stir-fries, pasta sauces and soups.
Quick guide to in-season veggies
Lots of veggies you can get all year round, such as avocado, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and spinach. However, there are also some vegetables that are best eaten and more widely available at certain times of the year:
- Spring — avocado, beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, peas, spinach, tomato, zucchini.
- Summer — capsicum, celery, cucumber, eggplant, snow peas, squash, sweetcorn.
- Autumn — Asian greens, beetroot, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, pumpkin, silverbeet, sweet potato.
- Winter — celeriac, kale, parsnip, savoy cabbage, swedes, turnips.
Tips for serving vegetables
The reality is that not all kids are fans of veggies. Fussy eaters can make meal time difficult, so here are a few tips on making vegetables more interesting:
- Add chopped vegetables to a bolognaise sauce.
- Veggies like cherry tomatoes, snow peas, green beans, red capsicum, celery or carrot sticks are great to dip with hummus.
- Load vegetables into soups with beans or pasta.
- Most kids like mashed potato, but you can include different mashed veggies for different colours and flavours.
How much veggies does my child need?
By age 2, your child should be having 2½ serves a day of veggies and legumes/beans. From age 4 years, they should eat 4½ serves a day and then 5 serves from age 9 onwards.
A serve is ½ cup of cooked veggies or 1 cup raw.
Five food groups
Read more about the other 4 of the 5 food groups:
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Last reviewed: January 2020