LEYF’s approach to food, nutrition and meals

Nutrition, food education and tasty, balanced meals are an integral part of life at LEYF. All our children receive the same high quality meals and snacks throughout the day, with no additional fees for food.

Our chefs support children to develop an understanding of healthy eating habits and regularly lead cooking activities.

LEYF chefs also support teachers and parents to increase their understanding of the nutritional needs of young children.


At LEYF, we take children’s nutrition very seriously. Healthy eating and nutrition have always been central to the Safe, Fit & Healthy strand in our Pedagogy, our teaching and learning model.

We have a unique opportunity to influence the daily and ongoing eating habits of our children, by providing them with up to three meals and two snacks per day.

Children exploring different fruits with the nursery chef

Our in-house chefs prepare fresh, well-balanced meals at each of our nurseries. They develop LEYF’s seasonal menus collaboratively, allowing individual nurseries to respond to the preferences of the children.

The menus are developed to expand the children’s palates, offering the best mix of nutrients, flavours, textures and food groups every week. We serve fish at least twice weekly, fresh fruit and vegetables every day, milk with meals and snacks, and provide continual access to drinking water.

Our nurseries also run ‘children’s choice days’, to give children a regular say in what they eat.

Play video Spinach and Butterbean Macaroni Cheese

Watch Luke, one of our chefs, creating a nutritious meal for our children.

Spinach and Butterbean Macaroni Cheese

Healthy eating and nutrition are a priority at LEYF.

Healthy eating and nutrition are a priority at LEYF.

Food education

We teach our children about food holistically. Alongside the importance of a balanced diet, our Pedagogy highlights how crucial it is to provide children with experiences to develop their understanding and enjoyment of food.

Our menus include recipes from around the world, to help broaden children’s cultural experiences.

We also educate children about where our food comes from and how it impacts the planet. Many of our nurseries have herb gardens and vegetable patches, where the children learn about the journey food makes before it reaches our plates.

Our chefs and teachers regularly take children out on food-related outings – to local farmers’ markets or even the fishmonger. This helps children to familiarise themselves with raw ingredients, rather than processed products.

Nursery chef baking bread with children

Chefs and teachers run cooking and baking activities with the children. These encourage learning about healthy ingredients and help make food fun, while also developing children’s counting, weighing and motor skills.

Our nurseries put fresh fruit and vegetables in the home corner that the children are unfamiliar with, or reluctant to eat. This is so they can become more comfortable with them through playing, handling, smelling, breaking apart and tasting.


Mealtimes are a great opportunity to develop children’s social skills.

Our meals are served ‘family style’, meaning children help themselves from serving dishes and sit together with the teachers.

Babies get used to this too, by sitting in low-level seats rather than high chairs.

child having lunch

We help children of all ages develop social skills and independence, such as by helping babies learn to feed themselves, toddlers to use cutlery and pre-schoolers to serve themselves.

We pay particular attention to how food is presented, to make it as appealing as possible.

We ensure alternative foods are presented in a similar way, so that children with allergies or dietary requirements feel included.

Early Years Chef Academy

We are so committed to ensuring children have access to nutritious food that we have established the very first Early Years Chef Academy.

Photo of the chefs and some stockwell staff with Kate Middleton

The LEYF Early Years Chef Academy trains nursery chefs from inside and outside LEYF to make delicious, appealing and healthy meals for children, and how to take a whole nursery approach to encouraging healthy eating.

We hope such training will become a minimum for all chefs working in the Early Years.

Children exploring different fruits with the nursery

Early Years Chef Academy

We train chefs and teachers to be experts in child nutrition and to help children, staff and parents build healthy habits for life.

staff and children looking very curiously into a plant pot

LEYF Pedagogy

Our unique seven-strand Pedagogy is interwoven into everything we do, to give all children wonderful learning experiences every day.

Our nurseries

We’re an award-winning group of 40 London nurseries! Browse our nurseries and find out more about our teams, our Pedagogy, and more.