Planning your daycare’s weekly menu to cater to the hard-to-please little eaters may seem like a challenging task - considering the fact that it has to be healthy, fun and age-appropriate.
Through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), daycare owners can receive reimbursement for nutritious meals and snacks served to young children for their healthy growth and development. These programs also provide guidelines for healthy meal patterns for breakfast, snack, lunch, and supper, but it can still be difficult to plan a week’s menu because the little picky eaters need diversity in what they eat.
Here are some tips to help daycare admins to plan out the weekly meals that are both nutritious and appealing.
Energize them with a rich breakfast
It is a well-known fact that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As per CACFP guidelines, the Breakfast menu must include Milk, Vegetables and/or Fruits and grains. This link will show you some tasty and easy breakfast ideas.
Make it attractive
While planning the menu, make sure you choose colorful food. Aim to include a mix of bright vegetables and fruits like avocados, spinach, carrot, corn beets, banana, mangoes, berries, oranges. Get creative by making fun patterns and faces using food items. You can also use colorful cutleries
Choose healthy grains
Grains are an essential source of fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. Get creative by choosing healthy grains like oatmeal and brown rice.
Deceiving is wrong - but not when it comes down to healthy eating. Try to substitute refined-grain pasta with whole grain pasta in mac and cheese, use whole wheat flour for muffins, add pureed vegetables in the pasta sauce, hummus sandwich - there are unlimited possibilities.
Mealtime = fun learning time
Make mealtime as activity time for little kids by teaching them colors, maths, and shapes with food items. You can also teach them good food and eating habits.
Keep the parents informed
Use Child Journal - a daycare management app to inform the parents each day instantly about what and how much their kid has eaten. This will give them enough time to decide what to include in the food they prepare for the kids. This will also let them know about the new foods that their kids have eaten, giving them the opportunity to learn more about their little ones.
Bring out their inner chefs
Get the tiny tots involved in food preps by letting them help you in stirring, mashing the fruits and veggies, measuring and more.
Rotate the menu
It gets easier when you start rotating the menu. Aim for 4-5 weeks rotations so that the kids get a variety.
Don't stop trying
Finally, don't stop trying to feed them what they might have rejected the first time. Include the same food in another recipe and feed them. They may surprise you by asking for more!