Daycare Food Menu Meal Planning Guide

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!

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!

Daycare food menu meal planning guide

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

Childcare menu

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.

Daycare breakfast ideas

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.

Daycare lunch ideas

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

Daycare snack

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

Fruit and vegetable ideas for the food program

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

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.

If you’re interested in meal planning helps, check out these printable tools

Printable menu planning sheets and daycare planning sheets

For more help in your daycare business, check out these tips for providers

Don’t forget to pin for later

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!

 

2 comments

  1. Melissa says:

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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