Nutrition Project Ideas for Middle School

Instructor: Grace Pisano

Grace has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in teaching. She previously taught high school in several states around the country.

More is discovered each day about the importance of proper nutrition in fueling the body, curing disease and regulating emotions. In this resource, you will find a variety of nutrition projects designed for middle school students.

Understanding Nutrition

Nutrition is the foundation for health, and it affects every student in your class. Have an NFL-hopeful in your student body? He needs to fuel his body well. Someone with chronic health disease? She might address many problems by eating well. So much of nutrition is learned habits that it's important to set students up for success with the proper knowledge about nutrition basics--macronutrients, vegetables, types of food processing, etc.

In these projects, students will learn about nutrition through real-world applications. These projects are designed for middle school students, and all can be done individually (though one has a group option). As with all other health topics, be sure to remind students that this information does not replace what a doctor may have said to an individual student.

Creating a Meal Plan

For this first project, students will look through local ads to create a meal plan on a given budget. This project should be completed after students have already learned the basics of nutrition (vegetables are important, reduce processed food, the importance of variety, etc). With these things in mind, students will create a 7-day meal plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for a family of four.

The average American family spends $139 on feed each week. You can adjust students' ''budget'' based on other parameters, but this can serve as a guideline. Before beginning the project, create a simple worksheet with seven rows and four columns. The columns should be labeled: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. The rows should be labeled with each day of the week. It might be helpful to create your own meal plan as an example.

The specifications you set for your class can vary, but it is important that students keep at least some of the following in mind:

  • Use four different types of vegetables.
  • Ensure that there are at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables daily.
  • Use an ingredient you've never tried before!
  • Make sure you are making enough to feed a family of four.
  • Consider the money you would spend on drinks.

Students can then use weekly circulars or grocery stores websites to view the price of food items and budget their meals plans.

After students have created their meal plans, allow several students to share. Then, have a conversation using the questions below:

  1. Was it difficult to create the meal plan on this budget?
  2. Did you enjoy creating a week's worth of meal plans?
  3. How is your meal plan different from how you eat at home?
  4. What different ingredient did you include? Would you want to try this in real life?
  5. What did you notice about the price difference between organic and non-organic products? Do you think it is reasonable to eat organically on a budget?'
  • Materials Needed: Weekly ad for local grocery stores and/or internet access, meal plan template

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