10 Tips for Daycare Weekly Menus

tips for daycare weekly menus

As a daycare provider, one of your many jobs is planning daycare weekly menus. This is no easy task, given this age group is famous for fickle eating habits.

Healthy kids are growing by leaps and bounds every day, both physically and mentally. And of course you want to provide the right food to fuel this rapid development. Recommended daily calorie intake depends on a child’s age, size, and gender, but most young children require between 1,000 to 1,600 calories a day.

As a daycare provider, hopefully you’re taking advantage of any food reimbursement programs available to you. These programs do provide guidelines for daycare weekly menus, but even with rules to follow this can still be a daunting part of your day.

Below we’ve gathered a few tips to help take the headache out of daycare weekly menu planning.

Start the day with a protein-packed breakfast.

Some kids just aren’t breakfast eaters, but if yours are, this is a great opportunity to load them up with the energy they’ll need to tackle their days. As a daycare provider you know that starting the morning off on the right foot will set the tone for the rest of the day.


Choose foods you know they’ll like.

Build up a tried and true rotating repertoire of high energy, non-processed foods to keep your children upbeat and active throughout the day. Each meal should contain some foods that you know will be a hit to ensure that no one goes hungry, which can have a ripple effect on everyone’s day.


Offer new foods all the time.

This strategy works best if you serve new foods in addition to what you know they’ll eat. And even if they reject lentils one day, give it another shot again soon. It might take a few tries for them to decide if they really like it or not. You can also try a different preparation--if they rejected the lentil salad, maybe they’ll go for lentil soup instead.


Aim for a 4 week rotating menu cycle.

This will take some initial investment, but once you build up a menu of different meal choices, you can then rotate them around and mix and match for variety’s sake.


Plan for meal prep time and effort level.

If you’re serving lunch that will take a bit of time to prepare, offer an easy grab-and-go breakfast and use some of your morning prep time to get a head start on lunch. It’s also a great idea to have a fair amount of fully make-ahead options in your menu rotation, which will allow you more quality time with your kids.daycare-weekly-menus


Incorporate meals into your lesson plans.

You probably already plan meals around holidays and events, but you can also touch on just about any curriculum subject with food, as well. You can teach colors, size, math concepts, you name it, so get creative!


Try not to use sweets as a reward.

This is a tough one and can be hard to follow when you’re frazzled and it feels like they haven’t eaten a vegetable in days. You might be successful in the short run, but you don’t want to set a precedent that vegetables are something to be “endured.” 


Enlist their help in the kitchen.

Depending on your age group, getting your kids involved in food prep is a great way to teach lifelong skills. Let them measure, stir, tear, mix, mash, and pour, all while you’re teaching about good nutrition habits.


Involve your families.

Be sure to ask parents what their kids like and dislike, and on the flip side be sure to let your families know if you’ve recently gotten their kids to try something new. 


Use the right tools.

Using software like brightwheel can be a big help with daycare weekly menus. With our all-in-one, easy to use platform, you can record meals served and eaten for your children and then run easy reports for use in filing with your food program. You can also use brightwheel’s messaging and activity recording features to easily share this kind of information between home and your center.


Brightwheel is everything you need for your preschool or daycare, in one simple app. Download it or schedule a demo today! 


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