Daycare Menu Planning

A daycare menu will depend on various factors such as the number of children being served, the age of children being served, budgets, storage space, cooking space, and government regulation and funding requirements. With that in mind, we have laid out some ideas for each age group below.

Infants Under One Year Old:

  1. Parents generally provide either breastmilk or formula to daycare facilities at this age. This means at this stage menu planning is less of an issue than for older children.

Toddlers One to Two Years Old:

At this stage, toddlers will need soft foods with more varieties of flavor and texture than infants. Teeth are still growing in and developing, so that is a major limiting factor at this stage of menu planning.

  1. Breakfast:
    • Oatmeal with mashed banana or pureed berries provides complex carbohydrates and natural sweetness, supporting energy and fiber needs.
    • Whole milk or fortified plant-based milk ensures adequate fat and calcium for brain development and bone health.
  2. Lunch:
    • Mashed sweet potatoes or carrots offer vitamins and minerals crucial for growth and immunity.
    • Soft, finely shredded chicken or lentils provide protein necessary for muscle development.
    • Avocado chunks supply healthy fats important for brain development.
    • Ground turkey or tofu provides protein diversity.
    • Pureed peas or steamed broccoli contribute to fiber and essential nutrients.
    • Cooked and mashed quinoa adds protein and additional vitamins.

Toddlers Two to Three Years Old:

At this age children can venture deeper into the world of solid foods. Bread, tender meats and meat alternatives, and full veggies can be included here.

  1. Breakfast:
    • Whole grain toast with nut butter offers complex carbohydrates and healthy fats for sustained energy.
    • Greek yogurt with berries provides calcium, protein, and antioxidants.
  2. Lunch:
    • Grilled cheese sandwich with whole grain bread supplies carbohydrates and calcium.
    • Cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices offer hydration and essential vitamins.
    • Sliced grapes provide natural sweetness and antioxidants.
    • Baked fish or chicken strips contribute lean protein for muscle development.
    • Steamed green beans or asparagus offer fiber and vitamins.
    • Quinoa or brown rice provides complex carbohydrates and additional nutrients.

Children Three to Four Years Old:

  1. Breakfast:
    • Scrambled eggs with spinach and whole grain toast offer protein, iron, and fiber for sustained energy and brain function.
    • Fresh orange slices provide vitamin C and natural sweetness.
  2. Lunch:
    • Turkey or cheese wrap with whole grain tortilla supplies protein and calcium.
    • Carrot and celery sticks with hummus offer fiber and healthy fats.
    • Apple slices provide a mix of vitamins and natural sweetness.
    • Whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce provides complex carbohydrates and antioxidants.
    • Lean ground beef or plant-based protein supports muscle development.
    • Mixed vegetables like peas, corn, and bell peppers offer a variety of nutrients.

These meal choices are designed to meet the specific nutritional needs of each age group, promoting healthy growth and development. Always consider individual preferences and consult with a pediatrician for personalized guidance.

Menu Templates For Daycare Centers

You can use the templates below to generate menu ideas for your childcare center. These ideas include options which you can use to satisfy a child’s nutritional requirements around whole grains, milk & dairy, fruit & veggies, and meat & meat alternatives. Adjust the amounts in the charts depending on any government requirements, the age of children under your care, and the resources available to you.

Breakfast & Beverage
Morning Snack
Lunch & Beverage
Afternoon Snack
Example Daycare Meal Schedule
Breakfast OptionsLunch OptionsSnack OptionsBeverage Options
4oz Mini Muffins – Blueberry, Lemon Poppyseed, Cinnamon3oz Chicken Nuggets w/ Ketchup1/4 cup Chex Mix4oz Apple Juice
1 cup Whole Grain Cereal4oz Hamburgers w/ Whole Grain Buns4oz Diced Pear Cup4oz Milk
5oz Breakfast Burritos3oz Fish Sticks1/4 cup Whole Grain Goldfish4oz Orange Juice
4oz Breakfast Wraps w/ Turkey5oz Peanut Butter & Jelly on Whole Grain Bread4oz Applesauce Cup
5oz Yogurt w/ Berries4oz Mac n Cheese w/ Whole Grain Pasta4oz Yogurt Cup
Options for each meal and snack

Food Procurement for Daycares

Food procurement for daycare centers is often a challenging experience. Many large food delivery companies will require high order minimums each week and provide minimal customer service to smaller customers such as daycares. Daycare operators and staff know that buying enough food to supply the daycare at the grocery store becomes time consuming and physically demanding.

At McGregor’s Garden, we supply and deliver everything childcare facilities need to operate including paper products, milk, fresh fruits and veggies, frozen foods, canned foods, and dry food items. If you’re a childcare provider along Colorado’s Front Range, we would be happy to work with you to develop a menu and food & milk delivery schedule. We have no order minimums, supply all the products listed above and much more, and have no delivery or other hidden fees.

Fill out the form below and we will be in touch to see how we can help you!

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Child Nutrition Labels

McGregor’s Garden offers a variety of products with CN labels. Many of the products listed in our example menu above have CN labels available upon request.

That being said, we recommend daycare providers refer to the official USDA website for specific up-to-date information regarding government regulations for funding, which products do and don’t qualify, and further understanding of the program.