Taking the time to design a balanced menu for learning center is important. As a daycare provider, you’re in a unique situation that allows you to teach kids about healthy eating, help them develop good eating habits, and give them a chance to learn about a wide array of different foods. Your menu should be fun and allow for growth without becoming overly restrictive or boring. Below are a few tips for designing menus for your daycare center.
– Menu options should include a variety of healthy options and allow for growth. Many daycare menus offer only one or two meals a day with very limited or no carbohydrates, protein, or other nutrients. While kids may need a few vitamins and minerals, they should be offered a selection of healthy meals each day.
– Make sure to include various snack options such as yogurt, granola bars, cereal bars, and fresh fruits and yogurt on your daycare menu. These items should be offered in several sizes and serve multiple purposes. For example, a small fresh fruit and yogurt bar will be enjoyed by children and help fill them up between naps. A grain cracker and fresh fruit or yogurt bar will help with energy and help settle kids who have been awake for a few hours. Combining these snack options with a daily serving of fresh fruits and yogurt will provide a steady nourishment source and help them stay alert throughout the day.
– Fresh vegetables should be a part of your daycare menu. Choose a mix of different sizes of green vegetables that will provide a variety of vitamins and nutrients. Serve your veggies with a healthy protein source, such as lean chicken, turkey, fish, or eggs. Try serving beans and rice instead of pasta and vice versa. Include the most nutritious vegetables possible in your menu plan.
– Do not forget to include healthy food choices for your kids on your daycare menu. One of the biggest challenges parents faces is keeping their kids in healthy food all day long. A great way to combat this issue is to offer your kids various healthy foods such as cold cuts, fresh vegetables, soups, fruits, and other finger foods. Providing your kids with these types of foods will make it easier for you to incorporate healthier meals into their day.
– Don’t forget to offer your kids a variety of fresh fruits and veggie snacks on your daycare menu. One of the biggest mistakes many moms make is serving the same unhealthy snack all day. A great snack idea for your kids is a fruit medley such as Mandarin oranges, strawberries, or apple slices. A veggie treat that they will love is pureed apples and bananas. If you serve a healthy snack such as raw potato, egg, or low-fat milk cracker, your kids will eat the whole thing.
– Finally, don’t forget about the vegetables! While fresh fruits and veggies are an excellent choice for your daycare menu, they may not be enough on their own. If you serve your child a baked potato, he or she may eat the entire thing. If you serve a side of steamed broccoli, he or she will probably eat half of it. A baked sweet potato is better for your child’s health as well as having a low-fat content.
As you can see, there are several easy, daycare lunch ideas to help you create healthy meals for your kids. However, you want to remember to offer these same foods every day of the week. Not only is this good nutrition for them, but it’s also good for you. It’s not healthy to let your kids skip meals every single day of the week. Remember, this is what builds strong, healthy bodies.