Starchy foods at lunchtime

These standards for starchy foods help to make sure school food is varied and includes the right amount of energy, carbohydrate and fibre, whilst limiting the amount of fat.

  • One or more portions of starchy food must be provided every day
  • Three or more different starchy foods must be provided each week
  • One or more wholegrain varieties of starchy food each week
  • Starchy food cooked in fat or oil must not be provided more than two days each week across the school day
  • Bread with no added fat or oil must be available every day.

This food group includes: All breads, potatoes, rice, couscous, bulgur wheat, semolina, tapioca, maize, cornmeal, noodles and pasta, oats, millet, barley, buckwheat, rye, spelt, plantain, yam, sweet potato and cassava.

Examples of starchy food not cooked in fat or oil: boiled plain rice, pasta, noodles, couscous, sweet potatoes, mashed or jacket potato.

Examples of starchy food cooked in fat or oil: roast or sautéed potatoes, chips, potato wedges, pre-prepared potato products, fried rice, bread, or noodles, hash browns, garlic bread, Yorkshire pudding, chapattis and naan made with fat, pancakes and waffles cooked in oil.

Examples of wholegrain varieties: starchy wholegrains include wholemeal, granary flour, bread and bread products, wholewheat pasta, brown rice and oats. Higher-fibre white bread, 50/50 bread, half/half wholegrain and white mixes, such as 50/50 mix of brown and white rice, 50/50 whole wheat and white pasta.

Bread with no added fat or oil: all types of plain bread with no added fat or oil, including brown, wholemeal, granary, white, mixtures of white and wholemeal, pitta, rolls, chapattis, naan, ciabatta and herb bread.


How have the standards relating to starchy foods cooked in fat or oil changed from the previous standards?
The number of days when starchy food cooked in fat or oil may be provided has been reduced from three to two to help reduce the amount of fat and saturated fat in children’s diets.

What counts as a starchy food cooked in fat or oil?
Any starchy foods where fat or oil, including spray oil, has been added before or during the cooking process. It doesn’t include starchy food where fat or oil is added after cooking – like adding butter to mashed or jacket potatoes.

Some oven-baked starchy foods, like oven chips, are flash-fried during manufacture. These foods still count as a starchy food cooked in fat or oil (even if they’re cooked in the oven in school). Product labels and specifications should make it clear if the food has been cooked in these ways.

Why are wholegrain varieties of starchy food included in the standards?
Most children aren’t eating enough fibre. By including wholegrain varieties of starchy foods in school lunch menus, the standards can help to tackle this and get children taking in more fibre.