Serving nutritious food in daycare is an integral part of an effective child care plan. Making time each day to design a well-balanced yet simple to prepare menu that targets your young children’s nutritional requirements is vital. This will not only help keep your children happy and satisfied when they are in daycare, but it will also save you money and encourage good behavior. There are many easy ways to serve meals in your daycare. Let’s explore a few options!
When planning your daycare weekly menus, consider your kids’ nutritional needs and what your kids enjoy. A great way to incorporate fun and fresh eating into your meals are with vegetable trays and side dishes. Ask your kids what their favorite veggies are, and build a themed vegetable tray around them. You can build on this with specially made juice bars and pies. Try serving salads with grilled chicken or pork, coupled with a spinach bed sauteed with olive oil and herbs.
Another great way to promote good eating in daycare is with finger foods and dessert. Finger foods are an inexpensive alternative to a full meal, and children love to eat them. They can be served throughout the day as snacks or in between playtime or for an after school snack. Finger dishes can also be made at home for families that do not have a lot of time to cook for their kids. Try serving a load of healthy veggies with some healthy crackers and a side of fresh fruit.
Kids also love dessert! One of the biggest challenges parents face with toddlers, and their food is teaching good table manners. While your kids enjoy a delicious fruit or veggie tray, encourage good table etiquette by serving your toddler finger foods and stopping by for a snack every once in and while. Serving larger children with a few smaller children will create a feeling of family for many kids. Offer some of their favorites as well so they don’t get too hungry while everyone eats.
Another option for snacks is sending milk. This is a safe choice for daycare and is one of the most popular with both daycare staff and toddlers. Milk is easily prepared in some ways, and there is no need to buy expensive milk bottles. Choose fun and a tasty product like yogurt. You can send yogurt boxes home with kids for lunch or ask your daycare provider to provide them with individual serving packs. For a fun summer activity, send kids on a fun treasure hunt with a small box of chocolate truffles or other goodies.
The same goes for snacks during the lunch break. Your daycare provider likely has a few healthy choices for lunch, so make sure your child gets one or two of them to start with. Don’t offer unhealthy choices, such as fast food. Some daycare providers have an entire restaurant designed specifically for kids. This allows them to serve only the healthiest, freshest foods possible. Your kids will learn good eating habits and develop a sense of nutrition that lasts throughout their lives.
If you aren’t sure about which nutritious foods your daycare should be serving, talk to a few of your providers. They can let you know what their menu is and if it meets your child’s needs. Not all daycares are the same, so it’s important to make sure your child gets something nutritious. Otherwise, it may encourage unhealthy eating habits that you want to avoid.
You don’t have to choose between fruits and vegetables and processed foods. You can create a successful daycare program by combining quality products with nutritious meals and snacks. Your child will love the opportunity to eat fruits and veggies, and they’ll enjoy having quality meals throughout the day. A daycare provider who promotes healthy eating will also create a better working environment for everyone.