CACFP Meal Pattern-Meat and Meat Alternates

CACFP Meal Pattern-Meat and Meat Alternates

Do you tire of the same ole proteins for your kids? Check out the variety of meat and meat alternates the food program allows.

CACFP meal pattern-meat and meat alternates

Beans are a great, low cost protein that kids love. One of our favorite meals around little sprouts is taco beans in burritos. We make our taco beans by adding a packet of taco mix or ¼ cup of homemade, to a pound of beans in the crock pot.

First, I soak the beans over night and then rinse them well. Then dump them into the crock pot with the packet of taco mix. Next, fill the crock pot with water and cook on high all day. Once they are done, add salt to taste. Everyone loves these beans and they make your house smell great.

You can use these beans like beans a corn bread, add them to chili, or make burritos like we do. There are 100 other uses for them as well in soups and casseroles.

To make burritos, just warm tortillas in the oven or microwave. Add a scoop of beans and a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese to the tortilla. You can also add toppings like tomatoes, onions, lettuce or sour cream, but my kids like beans and cheese. Roll it up and give it a little press so the beans don’t fall out as easily and cut it in half for easy holding. It’s been a favorite around here for years. And super inexpensive. You could use canned beans too, but that’s less cost effective.



We like to use pinto beans or black beans for this, but there are so many varieties of beans there are limitless ways you can make them up for kids.

Toddler lunches for daycare

Toddlers love finger foods and things that are easy to grasp. They do great with cheese and crackers, sandwiches cut up, or small homemade chicken strips. I love making homemade food for my kids because I feel good about what I’m feeding them.

Food programs for daycare

Food programs can be a great asset to a childcare facility. They can be a support and a help in getting healthy meals together for your kids. Your food program will have suggestions of healthy things you can feed the kids. If you’d like to see our menus, click here for help to plan one and samples of what we’ve done.

Food buying guide calculator

The usda has a wonderful food buying guide calculator that can help you plan menus and budget for your daycare kids. It has tons of great suggestions for meat and meat alternates that can be served.

Yogurt for the food program

Yogurt can be served if it meets maximum sugar per serving regulations of no more than 23 grams of sugar per six ounces. You can plug it in here to see if yours meets the requirements or you can use the list.  No drinkable yogurts or frozen yogurts are allowed. However, creditable yogurts may be frozen by the provider and are creditable.

AE Whole milk yogurt, all flavors

Annie’s, all flavors

Brown Cow Apricot-Mango, Lemon, Maple & Vanilla Flavors

Chobani Fruit on the Bottom, Blended, & Smooth All flavors

Danimals Nonfat All flavors

Dannon Whole Milk & Creamy All flavors except coffee and low fat vanilla

Dannon Oikos Greek Whole Milk & Nonfat All flavors

HappyTot & HappyBaby Yogurt Cups All flavors

siggi’s Cups All flavors

Stonyfield Fruit on the Bottom, Grassfed, Greek, Smooth & Creamy All flavors

Stonyfield Kids & Yo Baby Cups, All flavors

Yoplait Original, LactoseFree & Whips All flavors except sea salt caramel

Yoplait Kid Cups All flavors/characters

Yoplait Trix All flavors

Silk Soy Yogurt All flavors

Stonyfield Soy Yogurt Vanilla flavor only

Aldi Friendly Farms Greek Fruit on the Bottom, Greek Traditional, Moo Tubes & Original Low Fat Simply Nature Whole Milk All flavors

Cub Essential Everyday Blended & Greek All flavors except honey salted caramel

HyVee Greek, Greek Fruit on the Bottom All flavors except honey salted caramel

Target Simply Balanced Greek, Blended Greek All flavors

Walmart Great Value Greek & Original All flavors except mixed berry

Any brand of PLAIN regular yogurt or PLAIN Greek yogurt is creditable.

Toddler serving size

Servings sizes are probably smaller than you think. For a toddler, age 1-3, lunch serving sizes are: 1 ounce of lean meat, poultry or fish, ½ a large egg, ¼ cup cooked dry beans or peas, 1 ounce tofu or alternate soy product, 1 ounce of real cheese, 2 tablespoons of peanut, soy or other nut or seed butter, 4 ounces of yogurt (must meet the sugar requirements)

You can also serve nuts as half of the requirement by serving ½ ounce of nuts with ½ ounce of meat.

Snack servings sizes are: ½ ounce lean meat, poultry or fish, ¼ ounce tofu or soy product, ½ ounce cheese, ½ large egg, 1/8 cup of beans, 1/8 cup peanut butter or other nut, soy, or seed butter, 2 ounces of yogurt (must meet the sugar requirements), or ½ ounce nuts.

You can also replace the grain requirement for breakfast up to three times a week with ¼ cup of yogurt 1/8 cup beans, ½ ounce cottage or ricotta cheese, ¼ large egg, ½ ounce lean meat, poultry or fish, 1 tablespoon of nut, soy or seed butter, 1/8 cup tofu or ½ ounce cheese.

CACFP Meal Pattern-Meat and Meat Alternates

Preschool serving size

For a preschooler, age 2-4, lunch serving sizes are: 1 ½ ounce of lean meat, poultry or fish, 3/4 a large egg, 3/8 cup cooked dry beans or peas, 1 ½ ounce tofu or alternate soy product, 1 ½ ounce of real cheese, 3 tablespoons of peanut, soy or other nut or seed butter, 6 ounces of yogurt (must meet the sugar requirements)

You can also serve nuts as half of the requirement by serving 1 ounce of nuts with 1 ounce of meat.

Snack servings sizes are: ½ ounce lean meat, poultry or fish, ¼ ounce tofu or soy product, ½ ounce cheese, ½ large egg, 1/8 cup of beans, 1/8 cup peanut butter or other nut, soy, or seed butter, 2 ounces of yogurt (must meet the sugar requirements), or ½ ounce nuts.

You can also replace the grain requirement for breakfast up to three times a week with ¼ cup of yogurt 1/4 cup beans, ¼ cup cottage or ricotta cheese, 1/2 large egg, 1 ounce lean meat, poultry or fish, 2 tablespoons of nut, soy or seed butter, 1/4 cup tofu or 1 ounce cheese.

toddler holding sandwich

What does lean meat, poultry, or fish for the food program include?

Beef can be brisket, corned beef, cheek meat, roast, flank steak, ground beef, liver, tenderloin, oxtail, ribs, round steak, cube steak, tongue, tripe, or canned beef. Pork can be ground, heart, pork loin, pork chops, pork roast, sausage, pork roast, pork steak, pork stomach or real ham. Veal is creditable as well.

Chicken can be whole, breasts, legs, thighs, liver, leg quarters, wings, tenders, gizzards, hearts or ground chicken. Canned chicken is creditable as well. Whole turkey, turkey breast, drumsticks, thighs ground turkey and wings can be served.

Clams, crab, crawfish, fish, fish sticks (not from minced fish), oysters, sardines, scallops, shrimp, squid, or canned fish are all creditable.

Frankfurters, Vienna sausages, and knockwurst are also a creditable source of meat on the food program. Buffalo, goat, ostrich, and venison can be served as well as lamb chops, ground lamb, and lamb shanks.

All meat must be USDA certified to be creditable.

Print out this shopping guide and take it with you to the store when planning to shop for meats and meat alternates for your kids. 

Meat Meat Alternates Shopping Guide

There are so many proteins that can be used as a meat and meat alternate for the food program, you can mix it up and come up with new menus that all of you can enjoy!

Check out our bulk cooking to stock your freezer with homemade meatballs, sausage balls, empanadas, and hot pockets

Need help with your whole grain requirement? Check this out. 

Don’t forget to pin for later

Do you tire of the same ole proteins for your kids? Check out the variety of meat and meat alternates the food program allows.

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