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Help me menu plan for my home daycare (please!)

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Hi Ladies,

I will be starting a home daycare in the new year, and am trying to get a jump on menu planning, or at least accumulating some recipes and ideas. I will be serving lunch and two snacks a day.

Lunches need to be:
  • healthy
  • balanced among the various food groups
  • kid friendly
  • have reasonable costs (I don't mean "cheap", just that I don't want to spend all of my fees on groceries)
  • easy to prepare, something I can prep the night before, or can freeze and reheat when needed

I need snack ideas as well. All I can think of for snacks is fresh fruit, veggies and dip, cheese and crackers, and granola bars! Plus the occasional homebaked treat when we do baking as an activity. So if you have snack ideas, that would be fantastic too.

Thanks!!
post #2 of 3
I try to serve two food groups for snacks and five for lunches (protein, dairy, veg, starch and fruit for dessert)

Fave lunches at my house include

chicken noodle soup w/ ww toast and chopped veggies cooked in the soup
chili w/guacamole, sour cream, and cut up tortillas
brown rice stirfried in a little oil with chopped chicken and veggies (but NO SAUCE they like it bland over here!)
boiled perogies and ham w/steamed carrot sticks
nut butter and fruit spread on ww bread
pita bread, hummus, tatziki, salad.
spaghetti and tomato sauce with beans or tvp instead of meat
Baked salmon, oven fries, and steamed green peas
Soft tacos with black beans, rice, grated cheese, and lettuce
ETA pizza (how could I forget pizza!)

I add milk and a fruit, like grapes, watermelon, apple slice, slightly thawed frozen peaches or bananas for dessert to any of those lunches.

I try to serve meatless lunches at least once a week. I like using the childcare menu as a chance to introduce healthier foods for my family. Cook small portions of anything new and strange to the children so you don't waste food.

My big lunch tips are to serve the veggie first, serve things like cheese, rice dishes and soups that you can make the night before or batch cook and freeze and then put in the crockpot in the am so it will be ready for lunch.

I also steam veggies and cool them before serving them to toddlers with dip. Often raw are just too crunchy for some.


For snacks, I think there have been some great toddler snack threads in Nutrtion and Good Eating, and also in the Veg*n forum.

Favorite snacks at my house include:

vanilla yogurt
applesauce
toast with apple butter or fruit butter (just cook a crockpot of fruit down until you can puree it and spread it on toast)
prunes (no, really, they love "big raisins")
tortillas spread with cream cheese and crushed pineapple and folded
snack mix made with raisins, cheerios, abc pretzels, a few Annies cheddar bunny crackers, and chopped dried apples
cereal and milk (try homemade granola if you want to bake with the kids.)
cubed cheese and dry cereal
oatmeal (try making it ahead in the crockpot
melon slices and milk
steamed broccoli trees with cheese sauce for dip
steamed (and cooled ) carrot coins with applesauce for dip
nut butter, jam, and shreddies cereal (they can make little sandwiches)
ETA frozen blueberries
Fruit smoothies

For convenience snacks on days when life is just crazy, I usually have canned soup and cups of applesauce in the back of my pantry and cheese slices or strings in my fridge.

If you can get into a rhythm of batch cooking and freezing, you can do it cheaper and healthier, though.

ETA I recommend that you read Deceptively Delicious. It changed the way I cook -- not so much the hiding-veggies-in thing, but the freeze-muffin-cup-sized-portions-of-cooked-veggies-and-meat thing. I keep my freezer stocked with ziplocks of muffin-tin portions of cooked chicken, ham, cauliflower, carrot, spinach and squash puree and add them to stirfries, soups, pastas, egg dishes, and casseroles. Makes cooking easier.
post #3 of 3
Great suggestions #2!

Pasta primavera is a big hit for DD, she'll eat just about anything (bell peppers, carrots, broccoli) covered in marinara sauce. :
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