Need new inspiration for making lunch for your kids? Check out these lunch ideas for childcare to get your creativity flowing.
CACFP Lunch Ideas for Childcare
Click here to see how to navigate the new requirements for CACFP menus.
Each lunch menu must include:
Milk (This must be fluid milk and not milk in a casserole or smoothie or any other source)
Meat or meat alternate
Vegetable and fruit or two vegetables
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Daycare menu ideas
Here are the serving sizes required for lunch ideas for your childcare menu
Toddler lunch ideas for daycare
Daycare menu ideas for CACFP must include fluid milk, meat or meat alternates, vegetables or vegetables, and fruit and grains. Once you get used to making menus that include all of these, it becomes second nature, and planning daycare menus is much easier.
CACFP menus, Chicken lunch menu ideas
Chicken is a super versatile meat that is liked by most toddlers and preschoolers. I like to buy boneless skinless chicken breasts in bulk and cook a bunch up ahead of time. I can shred or chop all the meat up and put it in ziplock bags in 12-ounce portions, that’s 8 servings of 1 1/2 ounces so I can pop one bag out and dump it in a rice or pasta dish. This is a super easy trick for making CACFP menus.
Another easy way that will save more money on my daycare meals is to roast a whole chicken (it’s really easy to do in the crockpot too) and let it cool and pull all the meat off the bones. Then you can package it up in the same 12-ounce portions to freeze. I like dark meat better anyway, it’s more flavorful. Then I can reuse the bones to make chicken stock for adding even more nutrition to the daycare meals. I love getting more for my money.
Milk, chicken and brown rice, broccoli and apples
Milk, baked drumsticks, whole wheat rolls, corn, and cabbage
(click here for a delicious cabbage recipe, so yummy. My kids and I love it.)
Milk, homemade chicken strips and cauliflower stir fry, brown rice, pears
Homemade chicken strips are super easy to make. Just take boneless skinless chicken breast, cut it into strips, dredge it in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, and either bake it on a baking sheet in the oven or saute it quickly in a skillet. So good and so easy for the daycare kid’s lunch. And who doesn’t love chicken strips?
CACFP sample menus
CACFP Meal patterns, Beef lunch menu ideas
Ground beef is economical meat for the childcare menu. I like to thaw 5 pounds of ground meat and cook it in a big skillet until it’s browned. Then I can portion it up into 5 freezer containers and have it ready for the CACFP lunches.
Milk, ground beef and whole grain pasta with peas and oranges
(click here to see how to make your own hamburger helper type recipes from scratch)
Milk, beef and broccoli stir-fry, brown rice and carrot sticks
Milk, meatballs, whole wheat pasta with kale, and grapes
Milk, beef and vegetable soup, whole wheat Ritz crackers and bananas
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Pork menu lunch ideas
Pork roast is the most economical meat I can think of for my daycare menus. I love the taste of pork too. It’s a great cook ahead and use out of the freezer CACFP meat as well.
Another great pork meat I like to portion out for the freezer is ham. I can buy a real spiral sliced ham and be ready to serve preschool and toddler lunches. I cut half of it into small slices and portion it into 12-ounce packages and dice the other half and do the same.
Once I am making lunch ideas for childcare, I can pull out a package of slices and serve it alongside mashed potatoes or make sandwiches. I can also toss the diced ham into pasta, on top of pizza, dump it in an egg casserole, and the ideas go on and on. I love saving time and money by bulking up on my cacfp meat.
Milk, pulled pork sandwiches on whole wheat buns, green beans and raisins
Milk, pork chops, fried okra, mixed vegetables and whole wheat rolls
Milk, ham, corn, broccoli and whole wheat bread
Milk, homemade pizza on whole wheat crust, cheese and pepperoni, bell peppers, and apples
(click here to see how to make your own pizza)
Childcare lunch menu ideas
There are tons more great cacfp menus you can make. Think outside the box. Three of my all time most popular meals at Little Sprouts are taco soup, cheese quesadillas, and cottage cheese with crackers. Nothing too fancy, kids like simple lunches but they are well loved.
Milk, homemade fish sticks, corn, baked potatoes and whole wheat bread (click here for a great fish stick recipe!)
(click here to see how to make your own homemade whole wheat bread, hamburger buns and rolls)
Milk, spaghetti made with ground beef, sauce, and whole wheat pasta, tomatoes and plums
Milk, cottage cheese, Ritz crackers, corn, and broccoli
Milk, beans, cornbread, carrot sticks and apples
Milk, whole wheat club crackers, cheese slices, peaches and peas
Milk, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread, cottage cheese, asparagus and squash.
Milk, taco soup, tortilla chips and apples
(click here for a taco soup recipe kids love)
Milk, boiled eggs, whole wheat gold fish crackers, brussels sprouts and corn
Breakfast for lunch menu ideas
Breakfast for cacfp lunches is a great way to add in all your components in a way that kids love.
Milk, egg in a nest (cut a hole in your whole wheat bread with a biscuit cutter and drop your egg in the hole to cook it) carrot sticks and strawberries
Milk, whole grain waffles, scrambled eggs, watermelon and cherry tomatoes
(click here for a great waffle recipe)
Milk, whole wheat biscuits, sausage patties, corn and applesauce
Milk, whole wheat English muffins, fried eggs, cucumbers and cabbage
Milk, whole wheat muffins, boiled eggs, blueberries and broccoli
Milk, whole wheat pancakes, bananas, scrambled eggs and hash browns
Hopefully, some of these lunch ideas will help you make sense of the new CACFP requirements starting in October 2017.
If you have some great preschool or toddler lunch ideas for daycare, leave them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.
Need some great tips for getting kids to eat healthy food? Click here to find out more!
For more tips for daycare providers, click here.
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