The Secret Ingredient To Easy Daycare Meal Plans

Let’s face it, meal planning is hard enough when it’s for your own family. But nothing compares to the often stressful job of creating daycare meal plans that adhere to CACFP (Child & Adult Care Food Program) guidelines and are easy to manage.

The good news is KidKare by Minute Menu can help. It’s an online tool that takes the time-consuming guesswork out of all your food program must-dos, including menu planning, scheduling, and reporting. Just log in with your phone, tablet or computer and everything you need is at your fingertips. Providers love it. And you will too! Here’s why.

Example of the KidKare Daily Menu Template

1. Foolproof Daycare Meal Plan Templates

CACFP meal pattern requirements are often confusing, and when they change, you have to learn all about them and adapt the new requirements to your menus.

KidKare does all that for you. The included meal plan templates have the latest CACFP meal pattern requirements and recommended best practices already built into them. So when you go to create a new template or edit one you’ve already saved, the software will catch if you left out a component, for example,   if a food item like a vegetable has been left out of a meal that is required.

KidKare software provides meal plan templates for every meal, including breakfast, morning snacks, lunch, afternoon snacks, dinner, and evening snacks. You can also save, edit and schedule meal plans as you need, making cycle menus easy to create and repeat over weeks, months, and even years. Check your state agency that partners with the USDA for daycare meal plan samples.

2. Extensive Creditable-Only Food List

All KidKare meal plan templates are “plug and play,” meaning each blank in the templates has a dropdown list associated with it that contains a range of creditable food items you can plug into your menu. Even better, at the top of each dropdown list is a search box. When you start to type, for example an “A,” the list will bring up all the creditable foods that start with “A” to the top of the list for quick and easy access. No scrolling needed!

To help eliminate errors, the KidKare food list only includes CACFP creditable foods that qualify for reimbursement. The entire food list includes more than 350 items to choose from, including all varieties of fruits, breads, bread alternatives, vegetables, meats, and meat alternatives. KidKare also lets you add new foods to your list.

Once you’ve created a meal plan in KidKare, it’s just a matter of how you’ll prepare the food. Thankfully, you can find almost countless healthy and nutritious recipes online. A great place to start is the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA.

Example of the KidKare Food List

3. Meal Plan Templates For Infants and Non-Infants

Meal requirements for infants and older children are very different. That’s why KidKare labels all meal plans you create as either infant or non-infant. And within the infant category, meal plans are further separated into two groups, infant 0-5 months and infants 6-11 months, to make your meal plans easier to manage.

Like all KidKare meal plan templates, the templates for infant menus follow the latest meal pattern requirements to ensure infants receive developmentally-appropriate foods that are reimbursable to you.

4. Centers get One-Click Meal Production Records and Other Reports

KidKare eliminates the paperwork and time involved in meal production records required by state agencies. With one click of your mouse or tap of your finger, KidKare uses your menu information and attendance records to automatically create a complete meal production record you can submit to your state agency.

You can also use your meal production record to gauge serving sizes of the foods on your menus and ensure children in your care receive adequate nutrition based on their age.

In addition to meal production records, KidKare lets you create other reports to help with meal planning. For example, the Weekly Quantities Required report can be used as your shopping list for the week, and the Monthly Menu Plan report can be printed and posted in your center to keep parents informed about the foods their children will be served.

5. Meal Planning in Spanish And On Your Mobile Phone

¿Prefieres el español? No problema. You can easily create meal plans in Spanish by changing the language of KidKare to Spanish whenever you want. And it’s just as easy to change back to English. All it takes is one-click on the home page.

KidKare also makes meal planning easy whenever you want, wherever you are. You can log in using your smartphone, tablet or computer. If a device let’s you get on the Internet, you can use the device to access KidKare any time day or night.

Daycare meal planning has never been easier! To learn more about KidKare for centers sign up for a free, 30-day trial here. Not a center provider? Check out KidKare Accounting for easy meal planning features.