daycare meal planning

The Best Daycare Meal Planning Tips For Busy Daycare Providers

Are you a busy daycare provider looking for easy meal-planning tips? Or maybe you’re just starting your home daycare business and clueless about daycare menus. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, this blog post is for you! Below we have compiled a list of our best tips for easy meal planning when running a home daycare. Enjoy!

If your family daycare participates in a food program, don’t forget to check their requirement when menu planning.

Plan Ahead

Meal planning is essential for running a successful home daycare. Not only do you need to make sure that the foods you serve are nutritious and well-balanced. But you also need to consider each child’s individual needs in your care. If some of the children have allergies or special dietary requirements, you’ll need to make sure that those needs are taken into consideration when planning your daycare menus. Planning will also help you to save time and money. The benefit of batch cooking is that you never have to spend hours in the kitchen daily to ensure you have healthy food on hand. And by involving the children in the meal planning process, you can teach them about healthy eating habits from an early age. 

Easy Recipes

Home daycare meal planning can be daunting, especially when balancing work and home life. However, by choosing easy and quick recipes, you can save yourself a lot of time and stress. To save time in the kitchen, look for recipes you can prepare in 30 minutes or less. In addition, many of these recipes can be made ahead of time and reheated when needed. By taking some time to plan, you can make home daycare meal planning much easier for yourself.

Stock your pantry

A well-stocked pantry is key to ensuring that you have the ingredients to make nutritious meals for the children in your care. When choosing items for your pantry, look for items that are high in fiber and protein, low in sugar and sodium, and free of artificial colors and flavors. These items will help you create balanced meals that are both healthy and affordable. In addition, be sure to stock up on items you can use in multiple recipes, such as rice, pasta, and canned vegetables. By taking the time to stock your pantry with healthy and affordable ingredients, you’ll be able to provide the best possible care for the children in your home daycare.

Get The Kids Involved

You want to ensure the kids get nutritious meals, but you must contend with picky eaters and limited time. Getting the kids involved in cooking is one way to overcome these challenges. Not only will this help them learn about healthy eating, but they’re also more likely to eat what they’ve helped prepare.

There are a few fun ways to get the kids involved in cooking. Older children can help measure ingredients, while younger children can wash fruits and vegetables. Even simple tasks like setting the table or helping to clean up after a meal can be a valuable learning experience for kids. And, of course, the more fun you can make it, the more likely they are to want to participate. So don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen!

Have A Variety Of Healthy Snacks Available

It’s essential to ensure that there is always a variety of healthy snacks available for the kids. Not only will this give your daycare kiddos the nutrients they need to grow and develop, but who doesn’t love a good snack? Some easy snacks to keep on hand include fruit, yogurt, whole-grain crackers and cheese. 

Rotate Meals

Coming up with new and exciting meals to feed the kids can be challenging, especially if you’re on a budget. One way to ensure that the kids don’t get bored of eating the same thing every day is to rotate your meals. Rotating meals doesn’t mean you need to cook something different every day, but simply changing the order in which you serve meals can go a long way. For example, if you typically do chicken on Monday, try serving it on Wednesday instead. And if you usually serve spaghetti on Tuesday, move it to Thursday. Small changes like this can help keep the kids from getting bored with your home daycare meal plans.

Easy Daycare Meal Planning Tips

Keep it simple.

Breakfasts can be as easy as cereal or toast and eggs. For lunch and dinner, go for one protein, one carb, and one veggie. If you do this, cooking will be a lot easier.

Plan ahead.

Cook enough for leftovers or make double batches of things like soups and casseroles so you can freeze them and have them on hand for busy days. Planning ahead will save you time and stress in the long run.

Utilize quick and easy recipes.

There are tons of resources out there for quick and easy recipes that are still healthy and delicious. A little bit of planning and prep work ahead of time will go a long way regarding daycare meals.

Get organized.

Invest in some good storage containers so you can quickly grab what you need when it’s time to cook. You can also pre-measure ingredients and even prep some meals ahead of time, so all you have to do is reheat them in the oven or microwave when it’s time to eat. A little bit of organization will make your life a lot easier (and less chaotic) come mealtime.

Daycare Menu Planning Ideas

Easy Daycare Breakfast Ideas

Overnight oats

Overnight oats are an easy breakfast option for busy mornings. Simply combine oats, milk, and your favorite toppings in a jar the night before and let them sit in the fridge overnight. In the morning, you’ll have a delicious and nutritious breakfast that’s ready to go.

Breakfast burrito

A breakfast burrito is another easy and portable breakfast option that’s perfect for busy mornings. Simply wrap up eggs, cheese, and your favorite fillings in a soft tortilla. 

Breakfast Sandwich

A breakfast sandwich is another quick and easy option you can make the night before. Simply make your sandwich with eggs, cheese, and your kiddo’s favorite fillings on whole wheat bread or a bagel.

Fruit and yogurt parfait

A fruit and yogurt parfait is a healthy and delicious breakfast option that’s perfect for those who want something light but satisfying. Simply layer yogurt, fresh fruit, and granola in a kid-friendly cup or dish.


A smoothie is a simple way to get your fruits and vegetables in the morning. Simply blend milk, yogurt, fruits, and vegetables until smooth and enjoy.


Pancakes are a classic breakfast food that can be easily made ahead of time and frozen for quick and easy breakfasts later on. Simply make a batch of pancakes, freeze them individually on a baking sheet, then transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container once frozen. To reheat, simply pop them in the toaster for a quick and easy breakfast.


Waffles are another classic breakfast food that can be easily made ahead of time and frozen for quick breakfasts later on. 

Looking for more Breakfast Ideas? 75 Toddler Breakfast Ideas You Need To Try Today

Daycare Lunch Ideas

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

A classic PB&J is always a hit with kids! Whole wheat and multigrain bread are healthier options, but any type of bread will work. As well, use all-natural peanut butter and jelly for the healthiest option. If you are concerned about allergies, use sun butter or other non-nut options. Also, you can add some sliced fruit or vegetables to the sandwich for extra nutrition.

Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese sandwiches are another easy option for daycare lunches. Any type of bread will work, but whole wheat or wheat bread are healthier choices. For extra nutrition, you can also add some sliced fruit or vegetables to the sandwich.

Chicken Nuggets

Chicken nuggets are another easy option for daycare lunches. You can serve them with a side of fruit or vegetables or add them to a Caesar salad or wrap.

Fish Sticks

Fish sticks are another easy option for daycare lunches. You can serve them with a side of fruit or vegetables, or you can add them to a bun or wrap

Pizza Bagels

Pizza bagels are another easy option for daycare lunches. You can use any type of bagel, but whole wheat bagels are a healthier choice. For extra nutrition, you can also add some chopped vegetables to the pizza bagels.

Fruit and Vegetable Plate

A fruit and vegetable plate is an easy and healthy option for daycare lunches. You can use any type of fruit and vegetable, but fresh fruits and vegetables are the best choices. You can also add some dip to the plate for extra nutrition. 

Turkey and Cheese Sandwich

Another lunch staple, a turkey and cheese sandwich, is a simple but satisfying meal. Again, whole wheat or multigrain bread is best. You can also add some lettuce and tomato for extra nutrition.

Macaroni and Cheese

Who doesn’t love mac & cheese? It’s the perfect comfort food for any day. Look for whole wheat pasta to make it a bit healthier. Add some steamed broccoli or other veggies for an extra nutritional boost.

Soup and Crackers

Soup is an excellent option for lunch, especially on a cold day. Serve with a few ice cubes to cool down for the kiddos. Pair it with some whole-grain crackers for dipping or some bread on the side.

Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is another great option for packing in lots of veggies. It is possible to use any type of pasta, but whole-wheat pasta is particularly good. Add some protein with chicken, tofu, or beans, and dress with your favorite vinaigrette.

Fruit and Yogurt Cup

A fruit and yogurt cup is a healthy and refreshing lunch menu item. Use plain yogurt and add fresh fruit for sweetness. Top with granola or nuts on the side for a crunchy topping.

Also, Check Out 3 Tips for Providing Toddler-Friendly Lunches 

Providing a healthy and delicious meal for your home daycare is easy if you plan ahead and prepare. Following the tips above, you can make mealtime one less thing you have to worry about during your busy days. And who knows – maybe the kids will even enjoy helping out in the kitchen!

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