10 Tips For Planning A Healthy Child Care Center Menu

If you are planning a day care center for kids, then there are plenty of things to keep in mind. One of them is food. As a child care center, you will be expected to provide nutritious meals for infants and toddlers. Would you prefer to take the easy way out and provide just about any food to toddlers or would you plan a wholesome, healthy diet? It may take additional effort, but it is worth it.
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Just keep these points in mind:

1)      Follow dietary guidelines

As a child care service provider, it becomes your responsibility to provide healthy meals and snacks that meet dietary guidelines. It is obligatory to serve family style meals that satisfy the child’s hunger. You are also expected to teach healthy eating habits to the children in your care. Overall, it is a job that needs a lot of hard work and patience.

2)      A different menu plan for each day

Children do not like eating the same kind of food every day. The best thing is to provide them with food that is wholesome and nutritious and seems interesting to them. For example - Breakfast must be the combination of milk, vegetables, fruits and grains. Lunch or supper should comprise of at least five items like milk, fruits/vegetables, grains, meat or alternates. Again, the combination of different foods and vegetables must be your pick to stop them from getting bored of having the similar kind of food. A healthy mix of vegetables, fruits, proteins and other essential minerals makes an ideal healthy diet combination for day care centers. 

3)      Avoid waste

One may be tempted to place the required servings before a child, but then children are finicky. If they polish off their plates one day, they are likely to peck at their food the very next day and focus on something else. Start with small saucers and glasses that can always be refilled.

4)      Save costs

Buy in bulk and invest in a large cold store. You can prepare fresh fruit juices that will cost less and are more nutritious. When you save costs, you can include better, healthier, nutritious and more ingredients in your childcare diet plan.

5)      Rainbow colors for better nutrition

It is essential for a healthy childcare diet plan to include plenty of proteins with carbohydrates and fats to balance the mix. However, minerals and vitamins are just as important. Since you will be feeding and teaching the kids to eat healthy for the rest of their lives, introduce rainbow into their lives to give them their requirements of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. It means picking fruits and vegetables of each color and including them in the daily childcare diet menu.

6)      Avoiding foods that lead to child obesity

It is easy to feed small kids with high sugar and high fat packaged foods. They like it too. But, it is a road towards child obesity and other diseases. Therefore, sticking to high fiber and high nutrition route and avoiding packaged foods as much as possible contributes to the better health of children. Packaged foods and canned fruit and fruit juices should be avoided.

7)      Keep it simple

There is no need to impress. Meals can be simple and yet be sufficiently nutritious as well as tasty. Control the ingredients and how meals are prepared. Vegetables, fruits, protein (fish/chicken/red meat/egg) and a dash of nuts or dry fruits like raisins are all that you will need.
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8)      On site food preparation

You may have to do it yourself or employ someone, but there is no substitute for home-cooked food as regards taste, quality, and nutrition. Do not be tempted to outsource it to caterers and risk health of children in your care. Also, cooking at home is a cheaper alternative.

9)      Evaluate each child’s tastes

One size does not fit all when it comes to dietary preferences, and children are rather finicky so get to know their taste and start by serving them what they like but gently steering them to a more healthy preparation.

10)  Consult parents

Children may be allergic to certain foods. Parents are the best people to ask to learn about the allergies they suffer. It keeps you on a safer side by preventing you to offering food that may risk their health.

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