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Planning menus can be difficult. These menus were developed to promote family meals and feed young children a variety of nutritious food. By offering a variety of nutritious food, adults can support children's proper growth and development. The menus contain foods from each food group. They are intended for families to prepare at home or for child care centers to prepare for the children in their care.1

Each menu contains ONLY 6 ingredients or less. One of the ingredients is milk or a milk substitute, which we recommend offering at each meal. In addition, the menus were designed using convenience foods, so that they can be quick and easy to prepare. Nutritional information2 and costs3 per portion4 are available too!

Precooked, frozen, fresh items are interchangeable (e.g. green beans can be substituted for peas on a menu), although calorie content and nutritional content may vary with substitutions. Cooking methods also are interchangeable. Choose the most convenient method: microwave, oven, or grill. When heating items such as meat, fish or poultry, be sure to cook foods to the recommended internal temperatures. Refer to the link below for recommended internal temperatures for various foods:

Link to USDA cooking temperatures

We not only promote family meals with the quick and easy menus, but we also encourage children to participate in some supervised food preparation activities. Each menu has a symbol (*) to help designate activities children can do with adult supervision. Also recognize this symbol (**) that indicates the food is a potential choking hazard. To reduce the risk of a child choking, cut those foods into pieces 1" or less.

1Meets Child and Adult Care Food Program guidelines

2Food Processor, esha Research (version 10.2)

3USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at Four Levels, USDA Average, 2009

  • L = Low cost ≤ $1.77 per serving
  • M = Medium cost $1.78-$2.70 per serving
  • H = High cost ≥ $2.71 per serving

4USDA My Pyramid, Steps to a Healthier You, What Counts as a Cup?