Are you looking for ways to make menu shopping simpler each week? Check out this CACFP food buying guide and make your life a whole lot easier
CACFP food buying guide
There are so many ways you can make shopping for the daycare menu easier. Even planning out a menu can be a daunting task, but once you have it planned, how do you get all the food you need for the child nutrition program in order and ready? It takes a little planning, but you can streamline your shopping for the kid’s meals in your daycare if you just do a little organizing.
First, take your meal pattern guides and use this menu planning post to help you plan out the menu you want. You can use the whole wheat guide with printable shopping list by name brand, and the meat and meat alternate one as well as fruits and vegetables. The meat and meat alternate post has a printable yogurt list by name brand to help you as well.
Next, write a list of every food that is on your menu. For instance, start with fluid milk and write down how many times you have that served. Probably 10. Then, add how many times you’ll need it for a recipe. Are you serving a gravy or pasta sauce? What about any bread recipes you have that call for milk? Then go to the next food on the menu, maybe it’s cheerios? Check how many times you plan to serve cheerios and mark that on your list.
Food buying calculator
Continue this until every food on your meal pattern in on the list with how many times you’ll serve it. Now you know how many servings you need. If you’re serving milk 15 times in a week and you have 7 kids, you’ll need 120 servings of milk for that week.
When I calculate my shopping list, I use the serving sizes for the 3-5 age since most of my kids are in that range and I eat about the same amount they do. You can find that serving size list here. Also, I count myself in the count as a kid because I have to eat too and I eat the same serving sizes. You can figure this how ever it works for you. This is what works for me.
Now that I know about how much food I need; I divide the servings by how many are in the container. I know that milk has 16 cups in a gallon and kids 3-5 need 6 ounces of milk for breakfast and lunch. I serve water for snack, so I never do the 4-ounce milk servings. So, 16 cups at 8 ounces per cup is 128 ounces or 21 servings of milk for the food program requirements. I need 120 servings for drinking and cooking, so I need about 5 gallons per week. I usually buy 4-5 so that’s accurate!
Child nutrition programs
Child nutrition programs were created to help kids get adequate nutrition so its important that we abide by the rules and regulations the food program puts out. Any time we try to cut corners, we may be cheating kids out of nutrition they need to grow. It does seem like a lot of trouble, time and expense, but kids are worth it. There are many ways to cut down on food waste with kids, so check those out to help you save money too.
Take each item on the list of foods you are serving and calculate them out like that until the list is complete. I organize my list in order that it’s placed in the store with the number of cans, bags, jars etc. of each one I need for a week. I usually do my shopping every other week, so I just double it when I put it on my list for shopping day.
Food buying guide interactive tool (web based)
The USDA has a food buying guide interactive tool for you to use on their website. There is one for computers and a mobile app as well. You have to make an account to use it and then it’s available to you for using to plan your shopping trips for your meal components.
USDA food buying guide app (mobile app)
You can also use the USDA food buying guide app for mobile use. It’s an app that goes right on your phone to take shopping with you. If you’re like me, you function better when the list is already organized before you get to the store, but if you can plan right there in the moment, go ahead and use the mobile app. You can at least download it to use for last minute questions even if you have a list already planned out. Check the food buying guides from USDA out here.
Here are 2 one-week sample menus with CACFP food buying shopping lists. Basic things like oil, salt and pepper are not included on the list. The highlighted text links you to the recipe you could use for that dish. At the end, there’s also a printable pdf for you to use if you’d like. I hope this is a super helpful tool for you!
Daycare sample menus
|Little Sprouts Learning Sample Menu A||WW=Whole Wheat|
|1||Oatmeal||Grilled Cheese San.||Animal Crackers|
|Whole Wheat Bread|
|2||Whole Grain Cereal||Sausage||Pretzels|
|3||WW Pancakes||Beef Soup||Whole Grain Cereal|
|4||Whole Grain Cereal||Chicken (Chicken Bacon and Pea Pasta recipe)||WW Muffins|
|5||WW Muffins||Cottage Cheese||Graham Crackers|
|Little Sprouts Learning Sample Shopping List A||Servings sizes are||figured for 8 people||Oatmeal||1||1 Can||at 3-5 yr old requirement||Fruit||15||50 cups||Buy what’s in season||Milk||12||4.5 gallons||to save money. Use||Cheerios||2||1 box||Fresh, canned, frozen||Pancakes||1||8-16 small||or whatever is best for||Frosted Mini Wheats||1||1 box||budget. Also, break-||Muffins||2||16 muffins||fast and snack requires||WW Bread||1||8 slices||1/2 cup serving each||Vegetable||5||10 cups||and lunch requires 1/4||Cheddar Cheese||1||1 pound||cup fruit and 1/4 veg.||Sausage||1||1 pound||Biscuit||1||8 biscuits||Ground Beef||1||1 pound||Animal Crackers||1||1 box||Graham Crackers||1||1 box||Ritz Crackers||2||1 box||Chicken||1||1 pound||WW Noodles||1||1 package||Cottage Cheese||1||1 large cont.||Pretzels||1||1 bag||Onion||2||Chicken Stock||1 quart||Thyme||1 jar||Garlic||1 bulb||Bacon||1 pkg||Sour Cream||1 sm tub||Parmesan Cheese||1 wedge||Cream Cheese||1 block|
|Little Sprouts Learning Sample Shopping List A||Servings sizes are|
|figured for 8 people|
|Oatmeal||1||1 Can||at 3-5 yr old requirement|
|Fruit||15||50 cups||Buy what’s in season|
|Milk||12||4.5 gallons||to save money. Use|
|Cheerios||2||1 box||Fresh, canned, frozen|
|Pancakes||1||8-16 small||or whatever is best for|
|Frosted Mini Wheats||1||1 box||budget. Also, break-|
|Muffins||2||16 muffins||fast and snack requires|
|WW Bread||1||8 slices||1/2 cup serving each|
|Vegetable||5||10 cups||and lunch requires 1/4|
|Cheddar Cheese||1||1 pound||cup fruit and 1/4 veg.|
|Ground Beef||1||1 pound|
|Animal Crackers||1||1 box|
|Graham Crackers||1||1 box|
|Ritz Crackers||2||1 box|
|WW Noodles||1||1 package|
|Cottage Cheese||1||1 large cont.|
|Chicken Stock||1 quart|
|Sour Cream||1 sm tub|
|Parmesan Cheese||1 wedge|
|Cream Cheese||1 block|
|Little Sprouts Learning Sample Menu B|
|1||Cream of Wheat||Cheese Quesadillas||Cheese Crackers|
|2||Whole Grain Cereal||Egg||Pretzels||Egg can be boiled,|
|Fruit||Fruit||Fruit||fried, scrambled, we|
|Milk||Vegetable||do them a different|
|Biscuit||way each time|
|3||WW Pancakes||Chicken and Rice||Whole Grain Cereal|
|4||Whole Grain Cereal||Ground Beef (Beef and Corn Hamburger Helper)||WW Muffins|
|5||WW Muffins||Cheese||Saltine Crackers|
|Little Sprouts Learning Sample Shopping List B||Cream of Wheat||1||1 box||Fruit||15||50 cups||Milk||10||3.75 gallons||Cheerios||2||1 box||WW Pancakes||1||8-16 small||Kix||1||1 box||WW Muffins||2||16 muffins||Cheddar Cheese||3||2.25 pounds||Vegetable||5||10 cups||WW Tortillas||1||8 tortillas||Egg||1||8 eggs||Biscuit||1||8 biscuits||Chicken||1||1 pound||Rice||1||1 pound||Ground Beef||1||1 pound||WW Noodles||1||1 package||Ritz Crackers||1||1 box||Cheese Crackers||1||1 box||Pretzels||1||1 bag||Saltine Crackers||1||1 box||Garlic||1 head||Onion||2||Thyme||1 jar||Parmesan Cheese||1 wedge|
|Little Sprouts Learning Sample Shopping List B|
|Cream of Wheat||1||1 box|
|WW Pancakes||1||8-16 small|
|WW Muffins||2||16 muffins|
|Cheddar Cheese||3||2.25 pounds|
|WW Tortillas||1||8 tortillas|
|Ground Beef||1||1 pound|
|WW Noodles||1||1 package|
|Ritz Crackers||1||1 box|
|Cheese Crackers||1||1 box|
|Saltine Crackers||1||1 box|
|Parmesan Cheese||1 wedge|
My hope is that this CACFP Food Buying Guide will help you learn how to save time and money on your CACFP food buying for daycare meals.
For more tips to make running your home daycare easier, click here.
For preplanned menus with shopping lists included, check these out.
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