German kindergarten lunch

19 Oct 2015

Ever wondered what preschoolers and toddlers eat in a German nursery/daycare? Wonder, no more. Here it is.

Both my children now attend a German kindergarten. Kindergartens in Germany are for children up to 6 years old as school starts at 6. Typically, a hot meal is served at lunchtime (as well as a snack in the afternoon in ours).

This is how it works in our kindergarten. Of course, I cannot generalise to every German kindergarten but it should give you a general view of what it is like.

The concept
  • No lunch box. Everyone shares a meal together. 
  • All sit together. Children and adults sit and eat together. No separate tables for adults. 
  • Adults eat the same thing as the children. 
  • Adults and children talk about their day, their weekend, families, etc together. 
  • The younger children are helped by the older ones.

The set-up
  • The older children (3-6) work on a rota to set up the table, clean it up, sweep the floor, etc.
  • Food is brought in from the kitchen onto the dining areas on trolleys by the children. 
  • Everyone who is able to do it gets up and helps himself/herself (usually from 3 years old). 
  • Children younger than 3, are helped by their Partner-Kind (a kind of child buddy) who serves them and carries their plate back to their seat.
  • Plates, glasses and cutlery are plastic for the younger children only. From 3, all children use normal grown-up porcelain plates and metal cutlery.

The food
  • It is typically German. Nothing very exotic or unusual (which is a little disappointing as far as I am concerned).
  • Tasting the food is mandatory. And they really do it! I was amazed by that at the beginning but everyone has to taste everything. My girl eats salad there!
  • There are almost no deserts. Just fruits.
  • The afternoon snacks are always fruits and vegs (cucumber, peppers, carrots, pears, kiwis, bananas, etc...).
  • Drinks offered are simply water or unsweetened (fruit) tea. 
  • Friday is always fish day.
  • Once a month, a sweet dish is served as a main course (but this is a very local German thing I am told). 
  • There is a special menu for children under 18 months (but there are very few children under 18 months - 2 currently).
  • Wednesdays are organic days (all food is organic).

Translation of the menu above:

Wednesday 30/09
2 organic eggs with herb sauce, potatoes and carrots. Fruits.

Friday 02/10
Salmon, creamed spinach, salted potatoes. Bananas.

Monday 05/10
Chopped chicken breast in a white sauce, vegetable bulgur, salad. Fruits.

Thursday 08/10
Chickpea stew with pepper couscous. Vanilla custard pudding.

N.B. The letters next to the dishes refer to a list of ingredients that may cause allergies. 


  1. I was so glad to read this. Interesting info! Love the rule about everything should be tasted. Like I tell my 3 year old, it's okay to not like something, but it's not okay to completely reject it without even a few bites!

  2. Sounds great for building independence and a sense of responsibility for oneself and the community. Is it inspired by Montessori's teaching? I've never understood plastic forks, they just don't work as well!

    1. Yes, it is loosely Montessori influenced even though they don't say it. A lot of German ideas about brining up children are close to the Montessori values.


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