Schools - Case study

How to create the perfect platter for kids

No matter what age group you’re catering for, here are some tips for building the perfect platter!

tips for creating platters


A ‘munch and crunch platter’ is a selection of finger food served on a plate or wooden board. The secret to creating a healthy, affordable, good-looking platter is simple – choose colourful foods that are as close as possible to how they’re found in nature.

Platters are a relaxed, social way of eating. As they naturally bring people together, they’re a perfect option for shared lunches or special occasions, like birthdays.

Kids, being the sensory learners that they are, thrive on experiencing a range of colours, textures, shapes and flavours. Adding a few new items each time –to create a mix of familiar and unfamiliar foods – is a great way to introduce children to new foods and encourage healthy eating.

Other reasons to love ‘munch and crunch platters’: they’re super quick to create, require minimal food preparation or kitchen equipment, some items can be made in advance and kids can even help to prepare them! Because they’re healthy (when made with healthy foods), you can serve them as often as you like –  mixing-up what’s on offer will keep kids coming back for more!

No matter what age group you’re catering for, here are some tips for building the perfect platter!

What do you need to get started?

You certainly don’t need fancy equipment to build a ‘munch and crunch platter’, an everyday plate will work just fine! But, if you do have some extra bits-and-bobs on hand, here are some tips to make your platter even more appealing:

  • Use colourful serving plates, bowls and containers.
  • A wooden board or baking paper will give your platter a more rustic look.
  • Use a variety of pottles or containers to add height, dimension and shape, e.g. muffin tray holes, cookie cutters or ice cube trays.
  • Provide a selection of age-appropriate serving utensils, e.g. spoons, knives, toothpicks, skewers or chopsticks.
  • Decorate with special items for themed or celebratory platters, e.g. candles, mini flags, fresh herbs, edible flowers or colourful serviettes.

What to put on your platter?

Anything bite-sized that’s easy to pick up and eat with your fingers! There are so many options and combinations! Remember, sometimes ‘less is more’, and you won’t need all these foods on your platter, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • A base food - This can be enjoyed on its own, used for dipping, or have toppings added to it:
    • fresh veggie pieces, e.g. carrots, cucumber, capsicum or cherry tomatoes. Choose a variety of colours and preparation techniques, like sticks, rounds, spirals or grated.
    • whole-grain bread, toast, crackers, pita pockets or wraps, cut into appropriate shapes and sizes, e.g. fingers, triangles or cookie cutter shapes
    • bite-sized pieces of cooked vegetables, e.g. pumpkin, potato, or kumara
  • Dips and sauces - Kids love dipping! These can be made in advance and stored in the fridge:
  • Something savoury:
    • cooked lean meat, e.g. shredded chicken or meatballs
    • boiled eggs
    • low-fat or reduced-fat cheese –sliced, cubed or grated
    • mini sandwiches or egg muffins
    • sushi
  • Something sweet:
    • fresh fruit pieces
    • you may want to add a sweet treat for a special occasion (check out our recipes for healthier treats, like these oaty carrot bites or banana oat cookies.)
  • Other goodies - fill any gaps with one or more of these tasty morsels:
    • roasted chickpeas
    • plain popcorn
    • nuts or seeds
    • cooked wholemeal pasta, e.g. penne, macaroni
  • Garnishes:
    • fresh herbs
    • lemon wedges

Don’t forget to have fun!

When creating a platter, you can keep it simple or get as creative as you like – feel free to experiment and have fun.

You could make a platter for a specific meal, e.g. a breakfast platter. This could include fruit pieces, yoghurt dip, wholemeal pikelets, whole-grain toast, eggs and sliced tomato. Think about incorporating a theme – this works well when children are learning about a particular food, shape or colour, or celebrating a special occasion or cultural event.

Platter presentation tips

  • Start by laying out the biggest items.
  • Fill the gaps with small items.
  • Go for contrasting colours.
  • Keep presentation clean and tidy.

Keeping costs down

A healthy and impressive platter doesn’t have to be expensive. Stick to your budget by:

  • choosing vegetables and fruit that are in season
  • using what you have in the fridge and pantry and making the most of leftovers
  • making your own dips
  • offering a smaller selection of foods and repeating these across the platter

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Food safety: Some food shouldn’t be out of the fridge for extended periods of time. Add chilled food to the platter at the last minute. Strictly follow food safety practices.
  • Allergies and food intolerances: If you’re catering for children with food allergies or intolerances, be sure to manage these by avoiding cross-contamination.
  • Food selection and portions: Consider children’s ages and developmental stages when portioning food. Avoid giving under-five-year-olds small hard foods, such as whole nuts and large seeds, as these can be a choking hazard.  For younger children, cut grapes and cherry tomatoes in half length-wise.  Lightly cook carrot sticks or apple/pear slices, or grate them.

Children can choke on food at any age but the risk is higher in children under 5 years. Refer to the Ministry of Health Guidelines to find out more. Search ‘food and choking' at