How to Plan a Fantastic Healthy Institutional Menu Within Budget

13 May How to Plan a Fantastic Healthy Institutional Menu Within Budget

Students need proper nourishment to learn.

Recently, a teacher shared her wish list for the school food program. She asked if sugar could be eliminated from the breakfast menu. Her students start their day bouncing off the walls and lack focus. The principle echoed the sentiment for wanting healthy food by sharing his observations of students having excess energy after meals and then depleted energy as the lack of nutrients sets in.

But how do you create a menu that serves the nutritional needs of students and meets the budget limitations of the school food program?

To plan a healthy school food menu, we evaluate each meal in three main areas.

1. What is the cost of the menu item?

The cost of items varies. We recommend that you cost out every item you plan to serve. We rate L for low cost, M for medium cost, and H for high cost.

2. How much do customers like the menu item?

Not all items will be a homerun. Some students will like certain items, other students will like others. We rate daily menus based on majority as green (high likability), orange (medium likability), red (low likability).

3. What’s the difficulty level of the recipe?

Certain items require more effort – time, skills, and staff working together than others. We use a comparative rating system for to determine effort with 1 equaling the lowest effort day and 5 equaling the highest effort day.

We advise that you do not serve items that score high in all three categories – red, 5, and H – next to each other but that you spread them out throughout the week and cycle. Upon completing this exercise your menu will look similar to the following:

Cost, likability, and effort for each recipe must be conducted in conjunction with customer feedback.

The people who eat in your cafeteria know what they want to eat. And more than ever they want healthy, fresh foods. Talk to your customers about what they want to see on a menu. At a school this means talking to students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Then survey the customers about menu items you plan to keep, and taste test all new recipes. When taste testing, authentically listen to the preferences expressed. Re-test items as needed until 90% of your customers are satisfied.

Now you’re ready to plan a healthy menu that your customers want to eat!

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