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
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CACFP Food Buying Guide

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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.

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Shopping list

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!

CACFP cycle menu

Daycare sample menus

 Little Sprouts Learning Sample Menu AWW=Whole Wheat
       
 1OatmealGrilled Cheese San.Animal Crackers  
  FruitFruitFruit  
  MilkVegetable   
   Whole Wheat Bread   
   Milk   
       
 2Whole Grain CerealSausagePretzels  
  FruitFruitFruit  
  MilkVegetable   
   Biscuit   
   Milk   
       
 3WW PancakesBeef SoupWhole Grain Cereal  
  FruitFruitFruit  
  MilkVegetable   
   Ritz Crackers   
   Milk   
       
 4Whole Grain CerealChicken (Chicken Bacon and Pea Pasta recipe)WW Muffins  
  FruitFruitFruit  
  MilkVegetable   
   WW Noodles   
   Milk   
       
 5WW MuffinsCottage CheeseGraham Crackers  
  FruitFruitFruit  
  MilkVegetable   
   Ritz Crackers   
   Milk   
       
 
  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 AServings sizes are     figured for 8 people  Oatmeal11 Canat 3-5 yr old requirement Fruit1550 cupsBuy what’s in season Milk124.5 gallonsto save money. Use Cheerios21 boxFresh, canned, frozen Pancakes18-16 small or whatever is best for Frosted Mini Wheats11 boxbudget. Also, break- Muffins216 muffinsfast and snack requires  WW Bread18 slices1/2 cup serving each Vegetable510 cupsand lunch requires 1/4  Cheddar Cheese11 poundcup fruit and 1/4 veg. Sausage11 pound  Biscuit18 biscuits  Ground Beef11 pound  Animal Crackers11 box  Graham Crackers11 box  Ritz Crackers21 box  Chicken 11 pound  WW Noodles11 package  Cottage Cheese11 large cont.  Pretzels11 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 AServings sizes are 
    figured for 8 people 
 Oatmeal11 Canat 3-5 yr old requirement
 Fruit1550 cupsBuy what’s in season
 Milk124.5 gallonsto save money. Use
 Cheerios21 boxFresh, canned, frozen
 Pancakes18-16 small or whatever is best for
 Frosted Mini Wheats11 boxbudget. Also, break-
 Muffins216 muffinsfast and snack requires 
 WW Bread18 slices1/2 cup serving each
 Vegetable510 cupsand lunch requires 1/4 
 Cheddar Cheese11 poundcup fruit and 1/4 veg.
 Sausage11 pound 
 Biscuit18 biscuits 
 Ground Beef11 pound 
 Animal Crackers11 box 
 Graham Crackers11 box 
 Ritz Crackers21 box 
 Chicken 11 pound 
 WW Noodles11 package 
 Cottage Cheese11 large cont. 
 Pretzels11 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 Menu B
 1Cream of WheatCheese QuesadillasCheese Crackers  
  FruitFruitFruit  
  MilkVegetable   
   WW Tortillas   
   Milk   
       
 2Whole Grain CerealEggPretzelsEgg can be boiled,
  FruitFruitFruitfried, scrambled, we
  MilkVegetable do them a different
   Biscuit way each time
   Milk   
       
 3WW PancakesChicken and RiceWhole Grain Cereal  
  FruitFruitFruit  
  MilkVegetable   
   Rice   
   Milk   
       
 4Whole Grain CerealGround Beef (Beef and Corn Hamburger Helper)WW Muffins  
  FruitFruitFruit  
  MilkVegetable   
   WW Noodles   
   Milk   
       
 5WW MuffinsCheeseSaltine Crackers  
  FruitFruitFruit  
  MilkVegetable   
   Ritz Crackers   
   Milk   
 

 

 

  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 Wheat11 box Fruit1550 cups Milk103.75 gallons Cheerios21 box WW Pancakes18-16 small  Kix11 box WW Muffins216 muffins Cheddar Cheese32.25 pounds Vegetable510 cups WW Tortillas18 tortillas Egg18 eggs Biscuit18 biscuits Chicken11 pound Rice11 pound Ground Beef11 pound WW Noodles11 package Ritz Crackers11 box Cheese Crackers11 box Pretzels11 bag Saltine Crackers11 box Garlic 1 head Onion 2 Thyme 1 jar Parmesan Cheese 1 wedge 
 Little Sprouts Learning Sample Shopping List B
 Cream of Wheat11 box
 Fruit1550 cups
 Milk103.75 gallons
 Cheerios21 box
 WW Pancakes18-16 small 
 Kix11 box
 WW Muffins216 muffins
 Cheddar Cheese32.25 pounds
 Vegetable510 cups
 WW Tortillas18 tortillas
 Egg18 eggs
 Biscuit18 biscuits
 Chicken11 pound
 Rice11 pound
 Ground Beef11 pound
 WW Noodles11 package
 Ritz Crackers11 box
 Cheese Crackers11 box
 Pretzels11 bag
 Saltine Crackers11 box
 Garlic 1 head
 Onion 2
 Thyme 1 jar
 Parmesan Cheese 1 wedge

Sample menus and shopping lists-blog excel

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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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

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