Planning meals that meet food program requirements and the kids will eat can be daunting. Check out this daycare food menu meal planning guide for help!

Daycare Food Menu Meal Planning Guide

This page may contain affiliate links. Learn More.

Planning nutritious meals that meet food program requirements and the kids will actually eat can be a daunting task. Check out this daycare food menu meal planning guide for help! If you’re wondering about the child and adult care food program for daycare providers, check this out.

daycare provider serving meal to kids at a table with rice and apples

Check out this daycare food menu meal planning guide for more ideas on how to plan out your menus well. These resources are going to be a great help to you! And if you want to buy menus already planned out, check out Daycare Time Solutions for monthly menu plans, click on shop all and menu plans for menus that meet food program requirements. Or if you want a sheet with a sample week and shopping list to get you started, check out this planning pack.

The biggest complaint I hear about meal planning is that people are sick of wasting food the kids won’t eat. Of course, there will always be the ultimate picky eater and there’s not a lot we can do about that except be patient and keep trying. But we can plan a great menu that most of our kids will learn to love to eat.

Kids may be used to McDonald’s happy meals and lunchables so it make take a little time to convert them to a fairly healthy eater, but don’t give up hope! If you want a ton of idea for how to help your family and daycare kids learn to like healthy food, check this out.

Daycare menu

Kids like simple food. They’d rather have a cheese stick than a gourmet lasagna. Remember when planning meals, finger foods and simple foods are best. Items like garlic butter pasta, mac and cheese, or just a simple pasta with a meat and a vegetable are kid’s favorites. You can get kids to try a lot of new things if you put them on a pizza.

Some favorites at Little Sprouts are cheese and crackers, cheese quesadillas, ham sandwiches, meatballs with a piece of bread or garlic butter pasta, anything on pasta, chicken and rice, hot pockets, empanadas, tuna casserole, scrambled cheesy eggs, and cottage cheese. I do a lot of raw sides, like apple slices, bananas, oranges, watermelon, peaches, carrot sticks (microwave for one or two minutes for really young eaters), broccoli, cauliflower, sauted cabbage, cucumber slices, roasted asparagus, and things like that.

If you keep introducing these foods to kids and don’t get emotional about it, over time when they see you eating them, they will want to try them. There are more ways you can encourage kids to try new foods such as letting them help prepare them and more.

kids eating plates of food at daycare menu, oranges

The food program or CACFP has requirements for each meal. Those include:

Breakfast

  • Fluid milk
  • Fruit or vegetable
  • Bread (protein is allowed to be substituted for bread up to 3 days a week)

Lunch

  • Fluid milk
  • Fruit or vegetable
  • Another vegetable
  • Meat
  • Bread

Snacks

Choose any two

  • Milk
  • Meat
  • Bread
  • Fruit or vegetable

The food program has other requirements which you can see here.

Some favorite breakfasts here are cereal with fruit and milk, hot cereal like cream of wheat with fruit and milk, sausage biscuits and fruit and milk, pancakes with fruit and milk, toast with fruit and milk, banana bread with fruit and milk and other meals like that.

Proteins could be:

  • Sausage
  • Ham
  • Cheese sticks
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Peanut butter

Breads could be:

  • Cereal hot or cold
  • Toast
  • Biscuits
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles
  • Muffins
  • Sweet bread
  • English muffins
  • Bagels
  • Breakfast pizza (this could have veggies on it too)

Obviously there are others, but these are some ideas to spark your thought process.

For lunch some of our favorites are cheese quesadillas with two veggies and milk, taco soup with a side fruit and milk, ham and cheese sandwiches with two veggies and milk, and cheese and crackers with two veggies and milk.

Fluid milk, as always has to be fluid milk.

Proteins could be:

  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Cheese sliced
  • Cheese sticks
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Ham
  • Turkey
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Nut butters

Breads could be:

  • Rice
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Pasta
  • Pancakes
  • Biscuits
  • Muffins
  • Sweet Breads
  • Waffles
  • Buns
  • Bread
  • English muffins
  • Bagels
  • Tortillas
  • Pita
  • Rolls

Snacks require that you just pick two categories. Some of our favorite snacks are cheese and crackers, peanut butter sandwiches, crackers and fruit, pretzels and fruit and muffins and cheese sticks.

Bread could be:

  • Pretzels
  • Crackers
  • Cereal
  • Muffins
  • Toast
  • Bread

Protein could be:

  • Cheese slices
  • Cheese sticks
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Ham
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese

There are such a range of choices available for fruits and vegetables. Use your imagination and change it up sometimes. You’ll enjoy serving and eating so much more if you change it up a bit sometimes.

Fruit for CACFP

  • Raisins
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Applesauce
  • Berries such as blueberries, strawberries and so on
  • Kiwi
  • Peaches
  • Tangerines
  • Apricots
  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Pears
  • Grapefruit

Vegetables for CACFP

  • Butternut squash
  • Zunnini
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Green beans
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms

Obviously these are not an exhaustive list. But just inspiration to give you some ideas of some things you might not have been using that would be healthy, and easy to serve that kids might like. My kids love a great variety of foods, and the more I expose them to new things, the more they will try.

child at the table with plate of rice and vegetables

Sample daycare menu

This sample daycare menu can help you come up with ideas of your own, or you can click on the link at the bottom and print it out and use it as is.

Click here for the daily requirements for components such as whole grains, protein, and fruits and vegetables if you want to make up your own menu.

Breakfast

  • 1% milk
  • Oatmeal
  • Apple

Lunch

  • 1% milk
  • Hot turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread
  • Green beans
  • Pears

Snack

  • Strawberries
  • Vanilla yogurt

Breakfast

  • 1% milk
  • Whole-wheat bagel
  • Blueberries

Lunch

  • 1% milk
  • Chicken Nuggets, homemade
  • Brown rice
  • Garden salad
  • Cantaloupe

Snack

  • Broccoli florets
  • Cottage cheese

Breakfast

  • 1% milk
  • Waffles
  • Peaches

Lunch

  • 1% milk
  • Roast beef
  • Butternut squash
  • Fresh pear slices
  • Crackers

Snack

  • Pretzels
  • Cheddar cheese cubes

Breakfast

  • 1% milk
  • Wheat Chex
  • Strawberries

Lunch

  • 1% milk
  • Bean chili
  • Whole-corn chips
  • Sautéed carrots

Snack

  • Cucumber slices
  • Whole-grain crackers

Breakfast

  • 1% milk
  • Scrambled egg
  • Sweet potato hash

Lunch

  • 1% milk
  • Roast pork
  • Corn bread
  • Roasted red potatoes
  • Corn

Snack

  • Triscuits
  • Cheddar cheese

Breakfast

  • 1% milk
  • Oatmeal
  • Orange slices

Lunch

  • 1% milk
  • Egg salad on whole-grain wrap
  • Cumber salad
  • Cherry tomatoes

Snack

  • Apple slices
  • Peanut butter

Breakfast

  • 1% milk
  • Scrambled eggs with cheese
  • Banana

Lunch

  • 1% milk
  • Baked fish
  • Whole-wheat noodles
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Carrot sticks

Snack

  • Carrot sticks
  • Hummus

Breakfast

  • 1% milk
  • Cream of Wheat
  • Banana

Lunch

  • 1% milk
  • Chicken stir fry with snow peas and cabbage
  • Brown rice
  • Oranges

Snack

  • 1% milk
  • Soft pretzel

Breakfast

  • 1% milk
  • Bean burrito
  • Applesauce

Lunch

  • 1 % milk
  • Meatballs
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • English muffin

Snack

  • Pineapple cubes
  • Yogurt

Breakfast

  • 1% milk
  • Pancakes
  • Mixed berries

Lunch

  • 1% milk
  • Hamburger
  • Bun
  • Strawberries
  • Beets

Snack

  • Peanut Butter
  • Crackers

Breakfast

  • 1 % milk
  • Whole grain waffles
  • Bananas

Breakfast

  • 1% milk
  • Ham
  • Hashbrowns

Lunch

  • 1% milk
  • Cheese quesadilla
  • Tortilla
  • Applesauce
  • Cucumber slices

Snack

  • Bread
  • Zucchini

Breakfast

  • 1% milk
  • Oatmeal
  • Apples

Lunch

  • 1% milk
  • Ham and Cheese hot pocket
  • Dough
  • Lettuce
  • Grapes

Snack

  • Crackers
  • Raisins

Breakfast

  • 1% milk
  • Sausage biscuit
  • Watermelon

Lunch

  • 1% milk
  • Cheese pizza
  • Pizza crust
  • Cantaloupe
  • Pickles

Snack

  • Applesauce
  • Cheese stick

Breakfast

  • 1% milk
  • French toast
  • Banana

Lunch

  • 1% milk
  • Beef nachos
  • Tortilla chips
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries

Snack

  • Pretzels
  • Carrot sticks

Breakfast

  • 1% milk
  • Cereal
  • Bananas

Lunch

  • 1% milk
  • Mac and cheese
  • Pasta
  • Corn
  • Green beans

Snack

  • Yogurt
  • Blueberries

Free printable sample menu pdf

Little sprouts learning sample menu

My hope is that this menu set will be a great help to you and you will be able to use and enjoy it with your kids.

Printable menu planning sheets and daycare planning sheets

For more daycare meal ideas, check these out:

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

2 Comments

  1. I see that some meals don’t have a fruit
    Component . Breakfast and lunch must have them in the food program correct?