Child Care Menu Planning
Child Care Menu Planning Tips  Minimize 

Eat and Repeat
It may take at leastLittle girl with strawberriesLittle girl with strawberries 12 attempts (or more) for a young child to taste or like a new food, especially unfamiliar foods. As children grow and develop, so too do their discerning taste buds. Don’t assume if they didn’t like it once, they’ll never like it. Offer new foods prepared in a variety of different ways. Serve bite size portions that are easy for little ones to pick-up and pop into their mouths. Young children tend to prefer raw, crunchy vegetables over hot ones and finger foods over foods that require utensils.

Portion Sizes That Fit
Boys eating apples for cacfp boost meal appealPreschoolers require small portions; about one tablespoon of each type of food for every year of a child’s age is an ample portion size. In addition, small portions are a much less intimidating way to present new and unique food flavors that continue to be introduced into the diet. Family style meal service allows the caregiver to encourage children to take a small portion to taste and more if they choose to do so. Serving appropriate portion sizes provides adequate nutrition for children, as well as reduces overproduction and potential plate waste after a meal.

Cycle Menus  Minimize 
CACFP Menu Planning Guide
  • Practical how-to guide in planning menus for child care center or home
  • Information on choking hazards & allergen
  • 16 weeks of menus
  • 120 recipes
  • Shopping list 

Center and Home Gardens  Minimize 
Day care center and home gardens serve preschool children throughout the state of Texas. Hands-on garden activities teach children the joy of gardening and the connection between healthy food and the environment. Gardens also encourage centers and homes to purchase more local produce, thus enhancing the appeal, acceptability and nutrition value of meals and snacks served through CACFP. 

Benefits to Preschool Children
  • Nourishment - Nutritional value of fruits and veggies
  • Health Habits - Eating better and more physical activity 
  • Sense of Accomplishment - Learn cooperation, teamwork and social skills; gain self-confidence along with new skills and knowledge; garden based teaching addresses different learning styles and levels of intelligence.
  • Responsibility for the Environment - Provides an environment in which they learn to work, play, and interact with child care providers, parents and the community while growing plants. They learn how to connect with and appreciate their natural world.

Download this handy 2-page resource How to Build a Raised Edible Garden to get started!

TDA Seal FNS Instruction 796-2, Rev. 4
  • Policy on buying local foods
  • Policy on growing food at day care center/homes as allowable costs
Link to farm to child care
Farm to Child Care
  • Read about CACFP child care facilities with a successful Farm to Child Care Program and center/home gardens
  • View pictures of indoor and outdoor vegetable and fruit gardens

Texas A&M AGrilife

Texas AgriLife Extension Service – Master Gardner

  • Guides, books, fact sheets and other publications related to gardening
  • Search Texas Master Gardener Programs by County and find a Master Gardener Specialist
 USDA Know Your Farmer Comnpass
Know Your Farmer Food Compass (USDA)

  • Information on local and regional food systems for years 2009-2012
  • Search projects in your area

Audiovisual Resources  Minimize 
The Adventures of Zobey Adventures of Zobey
  • Activities that encourage preschool children to be active and choose healthy foods
  • Children learn where foods come from and how to use healthy foods
  • This resource is only available by attending CACFP training
Funmi and Friends  Funmi and Friends
  • An educational tool for preschoolers, parents and child care providers
  • Visit an urban farm that grows fruits and vegetables
  • Learn to use fresh produce to prepare a healthy, tasty snack

Recipes & Cookbooks  Minimize 
Tasty Tots
This recipe offers a healthy twist to an old favorite by incorporating orange veggies and garbanzo beans. Kid tested and approved, guaranteed to please!

Rhubarb Applesauce
That’s right, rhubarb. A tart flavor blends well with apples and provides an extra boost of vitamin C. Give this recipe a try and see for yourself!

 Snacks that Count Snacks that Count: Recipes for Nutritious Snacks (TDA)
  • Recipes that meet CACFP snack component requirements for children 1 to 5 years old
  • Involve children in the preparation with easy to prepare recipes

Recipes for Healthy Kids: Cookbook for Child Care Centers and Child Care Homes (Team Nutrition)

  • Kid-tested, kid-approved recipes for child care centers and child care homes
  • Print the entire cookbook, or order a free printed copy online
  • Recipe yields 25 – 50 servings for child care centers
  • Recipe yields 6 servings for child care homes

  More Than Mud Pies (Institute of Child Nutrition)
  • Nutrition education curriculum to encourage positive ideas about nutrition and foods 
  • 54 lessons built around the seasons of the year to learn about growth, nutrition and food preparation

 Fruit and Veggie Quantity Recipe Cookbook Fruit and Veggie Quantity Recipe Cookbook
  • Collection of soup, salad, breakfast, side dish, main dish and other recipes
  • Includes family style recipes
  • Links to information about fruits and vegetables

associateive imagery for child care menu planning

Assistance available in English and Spanish. Please call 877-TEX-MEAL (877-839-6325) for help.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Texas Department of Agriculture

Commissioner Sid Miller