Menu Planning Tools for Child Care Providers

CACFP Menu Planning Guide (PDF | 1.54 MB)

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Sixteen weeks of cycle menus, recipes that are CACFP creditable shopping lists to go with menus, and guidance regarding choking hazards and allergies.

CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meals Brochure (2015) (PDF | 1.42 MB)

Idaho State Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs.

Serve healthy meals to children in your afterschool program.

Alaska Lunch Tray (PDF | 2.27 MB)

Alaska Department of Education & Early Development.

This document illustrates the food sources each part of Alaska produces for use in schools.

Menu Planning Tools - Recipes, Menus, Shopping Lists

Building Blocks for Fun and Healthy Meals image Building Blocks for Fun and Healthy Meals

USDA. FNS. Team Nutrition.

With a focus on CACFP creditable meals, find tools to help providers plan, record meals, and get ideas for nutrition education. Resource will be will be updated with new meal pattern requirements when finalized.

CARE Connection: Menu Planning for Child Care

Institute of Child Nutrition.

Cycle menus and menu planning lessons for CACFP providers. Lessons range from “grab and go” quick reads to videos to child engagement activity lessons.

Menus for Child Care (PDF | 816 KB)

Institute of Child Nutrition.

Eight complete weekly menus, including breakfast, lunch or supper, and snack meeting the CACFP meal pattern requirements for 3-5 year-olds.

Mealtime Memo for Child Care (2016)

Institute of Child Nutrition.

Monthly newsletters providing nutrition education, featuring meal service tips, recipes, and vegetable of the month. Archived issues from 2008 to present.

Water and 100% Juice Tip Sheet (2012)

National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education.

Water and Juice Dos and Don’ts with lots of helpful tips.

The First Years in the First State Toolkit: Improving Nutrition and Physical Activity Quality in Delaware Child Care (January 2011)

Nemours Health and Prevention Services (NHPS) for the Delaware Department of Education.

A guide for child care providers to meet Delaware nutrition and physical activity requirements. Includes 16 weeks of approved menu cycles and recipes, shopping lists and tips, age-appropriate physical activities, and ideas for engaging children, staff, parents, and the community.

Menu Planning Education

Nutrition and Wellness Tips for Young Children: Provider Handbook for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (June 2013)

USDA.FNS.Team Nutrition.

Child care providers can create healthier environments for the children in their care with this collection of tip sheets! Each tip sheet focuses on a specific topic and includes a practical application section to help providers apply the tips to their child care program. By using the tip sheets when planning meals and activities for children ages 2 through 5 years old, providers can incorporate key recommendations and best practices into their menus and daily schedules.

Iowa CACFP Healthier Menu Toolkit (2012)

Iowa Team Nutrition

These materials are part of the Healthier Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Award in Iowa. Healthier CACFP is a recognition system that supports the wellness efforts of child care centers, and homes participating in CACFP. This includes an Award Resource Book, menu evaluation tool (for centers) a menu toolkit - one for homes and one for centers, and a CACFP Food Production Record Worksheet.

Leap of Taste: Child Care Nutrition Standards

West Virginia Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition.

Child care nutrition standards, divided into four key components: Beverages, Fruits and Vegetables, Grains and Bread, and Meat/Meat Alternates. Materials include food prep videos, administrative tools, menu planning, menus and recipes, and more.

Nutrition Policies and Guidance for the CACFP

Connecticut State Department of Education.

Set of 6 guides for CACFP covering meal pattern requirements, crediting foods, infant feeding, special dietary needs, food safety, and planning healthy meals.

Menu Planning Assessments, Guidelines and Policies

Nutrition Standards for CACFP Meals and Snacks


USDA is providing guidance, resources, best practices, and training for CACFP centers and day care homes to support them in providing healthy, balanced meals and snacks to the children and adults they serve.

The Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs (online and PDF) (January 2008)

USDA. Food and Nutrition Service.

Has all of the current information in one manual to help you and your purchasing agent 1) buy the right amount of food and the appropriate type of food for your program(s), and 2) determine the specific contribution each food makes toward the meal pattern requirements. You can print the entire manual, individual sections, or just updated pages to insert into your 2001 print copy.

Crediting Handbook for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (online and PDF) (January 2014)

USDA. Food and Nutrition Service.

This resource complements the "Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs." It provides information on crediting foods that are commonly served in child and adult care centers, at-risk afterschool care centers, and family day care homes. It also incorporates and updates the crediting information in previous documents, "What’s in a Meal?" and "Crediting Foods in the Child and Adult Care Food Program." This handbook is written under the current CACFP meal patterns.

Healthy Bites: A Wisconsin Guide for Improving Childhood Nutrition

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

An extensive guide to improving nutrition in the child care environment which includes a program assessment, guide for a quality improvement plan and policies development as well as a guide to take action with implementation. It also contains nutrition education sections to strengthen the CACFP meal pattern and decrease childhood obesity. Also available in Spanish (PDF | 20.29 MB).

Missouri Eat Smart Guidelines for Child Care (December 2012) (PDF | 6.56 MB)

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

The Eat Smart Guidelines are a set of nutrition related recommendations for child care facilities. They were written to help child care providers create a food and nutrition environment that will ultimately improve the health of Missouri’s children.

Nutrition Self Assessment (PDF | 394.73 KB)

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

A checklist for child care facilities to use in identifying areas that could be improved in creating a healthy meal environment.