Paleo Kid’s Menu for Home or Day Care

| 35 Comments

I ran into a website for a home daycare the other day (which will remain anonymous) that was cognizant about the environment, exercise, and everything natural. The day care didn’t do TV and did do gardening. Her sweet home offered a play based learning program. It looked fantastic.

I was really impressed when she said that she goes beyond the USDA standards to serve nutritious, organic, natural foods, free of artificial dyes and HFCS. What a little paradise right?

Until I saw this:

Typical Day Care Fare

Sample day care menu

It’s definitely not the worst menu ever but cereal, 1% milk, pizza, and whole grain muffins and toast certainly would make me send along a sack lunch.

Why good people make bad menus.

  1. The USDA is their guide.
  2. They think this is all kids will eat.
  3. Boxed food is fast and easy to prepare.

So, allow me to present an alternative, nutrient dense menu any family or daycare could use. Some of the items could be prepared in advance. Each meal could be served with fresh orange juice or organic milk if desired. Meats should be seasoned with sea salt.

In a day care setting I would stay away from complex flavors. A few kids may like curry, for example, but just about anyone will enjoy sautéed meat simply seasoned with salt. 

Paleo Kid’s Menu

 

Week Day

 

Breakfast

 

Snack

 

Lunch

 

Snack

Monday

 

Scrambled eggs with potato wedges Apple wedges & almond butter Cucumber and ham “sandwiches” with banana chips Seasonal fruit

Tuesday

Almond flour pancakes with fruit Beef jerky made easily at home Sautéed chicken with white rice** & broccoli Celery & almond butter & raisins

Wednesday

 

Breakfast sausage with fruit salad Mixed nuts with dried fruit Beef stew with potatoes and carrots*** Apple slices and cheese cubes

Thursday

 

Banana pancakes and bacon Sliced turkey, veggie rollups with fruit Plantain* tostadas with meat topping & veggies Black olives and cheese cubes

Friday

 

Egg and sausage muffins with fruit A few cubes of dark chocolate Bacon wrapped pineapple bites Chicken cubes and avocado

*Green plantain should be cut into 1 ½ inch cubes and pounded flat. Sauté in coconut oil.

** White rice is considered a Paleo safe starch. Use it if you choose.

*** Throw a bottom round and a couple of marrow bones in a pot with some potatoes, carrots, and whatever else you like. Add water and salt and cook overnight.

There are infinite combinations of simple meals you could make. I like to keep foods really simple, and I know anyone running a day care does too. While these recipes may be a little more time consuming than typical SAD meals, they are on the simple side of Paleo.

Author: Peggy the Primal Parent

The blog owner!

35 Comments

  1. Pingback: Paleo Day Care Kid’s Menu | Paleo Digest

  2. Thank you for this sample menu, I have been racking my brain on what to feed my two kids under 4. One doesn’t like eggs and the other quickly tires of them, so this is a huge help!!

  3. Most day cares are on a food program. They are reimbursed for their grocery costs. They have to make out the menu and have it on file for the inspections they have to have. The inspector goes through the food in their home. They must have juice and 1% milk or they won’t receive their reimbursement. I had to provide my daughter’s day care provider with a list of foods she couldn’t have to keep on file for the inspection. She said they would be considered allergies, otherwise she would have to feed her according to the USDA guidelines.

    • Hi Shelly. My daughter Evelyn went to a home day care in California and we provided her lunch and snacks every day with no problems. Same was true here at a non-home daycare.

      I actually designed this menu in response to a friend who has been running a daycare for over 5 years and wants to implement a Paleo menu. If she chooses not to accept government funds in exchange for offering a grain and milk based diet, more power to her!

      While the menu was really created for her, I think it will be more useful for families. :)

      • Just for the record and to avoid confusion: The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a voluntary program which reimburses daycare facilities a small amount for following their guidelines. Our child care centers are not forced to serve USDA food pyramid meals (at least not yet).

  4. Great post. Thank you!!! I would love to see primal toddler recipes. Right now I’m feeding my 16 month-old son lots of paleo muffins (pumpkin, banana, applesauce flavored), eggs, sweet potato or butternut squash with beef or chicken stuck inside, tons of fruit and veggies. But I’m running out of ideas and things that he’ll eat. The banana pancakes are a great one. I will try the sausage muffins as well. It’s hard to get this guy to eat meat, so I’m especially interested in recipes that disguise meat.

    • I don’t agree with feeding kids lots of fiber. It gets in the way of absorption of nutrients. Also, in general, I would make flours like nut flours in “paleo” muffins a rare food. Fresh foods are better. If kids are fed a very simple diet from the beginning, you will not usually have too much trouble getting them to eat. Once you get into the habit of giving them taste explosions on a regular basis, their taste buds will always be craving new ones. I think it is best to keep foods simple for kids.

      I always kept food simple with my daughter Evelyn from the beginning and now, at age 7, she likes just about everything. She is not at all a picky eater.

    • Have you tried egg yolks for your little one? Kids love them, just give them one out of a fried egg, or gently boil eggs til the yolks are just cooked. Then he isn’t just getting fruit. We are planning on using the recipes and food plan from the “Nourishing Traditions book for Baby and Child Care”. Our baby is only 4 months so were not there yet, but my oldest is 10 and it has been a struggle to get her eating more healthful foods. Hopefully starting this one off right will help. Good Luck!

  5. great menu options.. any tips on how to encourage our 14month old to eat more meat and eggs? Right now she is eating just fruits and some veggies. Thank you in advanced.

    • Hi Jason,

      It’s funny, my 10 month old hates the taste of sweet (apart from breast milk) and will only eat meats and eggs. She pulls my hands to her mouth when I have meat and she literally gags when I try to give her banana or papaya.

      The way I give it to her is seasoned only with salt. I will squish fish, liver, or chicken from soup between my fingers and give that to her in small bites. Or I will slightly chew a medium cooked steak. These are her favorite foods so far. Eggs I feed to her the same way, although she doesn’t like them as much.

      Evelyn, my older daughter, used to love mashed banana with a raw egg yolk mixed in. This was her favorite breakfast. She was also always a big fan of sushi.
      She started eating raw fish at about a year.

    • when my son was around this age, he went through a meat-free phase. and being me, I rolled with it as he’s never eaten junk so I trust his unadultered food choices. he got over it a few months later ab now he absolutely loves his meat.

  6. I think this is a great menu and will be passing it along to my daycare provider. :)

  7. I will never understand the obsession with “turkey bacon” and “turkey pepperoni.” That stuff is even more processed than the original, often contains MORE fat (for those who are concerned), and tasted like garbage anyway.

    Oh my goodness, I have been having a hankering for good pastured pork bacon. I might have to get some this weekend!

  8. The nuts in your menu can be a HUGE problem for those with allergies. :(

    • Those with NUT allergies probably shouldn’t eat the few foods with nuts in them. Likewise, those with egg allergies should avoid the recipes with eggs and those with lactose intolerance should avoid milk. Should we redesign all the menus nationwide to exclude foods that contain potential allergens? I don’t think so. It would be too limiting and impossible. I used to have a bad allergy to rice. People can be allergic to anything. It is their job to improve their immune systems and heal.

  9. This is a great resource. Thank you for taking the time to put it together!

  10. I worked in daycares for a lot of years and I had a home daycare. To get into the USDA food program and IIRC we were required to serve bread products, and milk. Not juice though, you could have fruit or juice.
    Your menu is amazing though and I’m going to use it in our house with my kids. :)

  11. Pingback: Paleo Kids Diet Plan | Hood River Naturopath - Hood River Oregon

  12. Thank you for posting this! Trying to get my son away from breads. He is obsessed with them and I am wanting to do it slowly. I make changes best “cold turkey” but he doesnt when it comes to food. (he has become picky) So, I will use this guide to help at least reduce his bread/cracker intake. Thank you!

  13. Pingback: Paleo Kid’s Menu for Home or Day Care | Paleo Digest

  14. I love this! Really simplified and great. Will be using some of the ideas for my toddler!

  15. This is a great start and is exactly the type of things I make for my daughter for school snacks and lunches.

    It was tough when she was younger and in daycare though. I was receiving government assistant through WIC (a program for pregnant and/or breastfeeding mothers and mothers with children 5 and under). WIC is great except… well it follows the SAD food pyramid. Things offered are milk, eggs, cheese, tuna, peanut butter, cereal, juice and infant formula and cereal. Don’t get too excited about the milk eggs and cheese though, as you are only allowed to buy the cheapest form of each and with the milk of course they encourage 1% and skim… unless you want soy! Oh joy. Also the tuna is only for BF’ing moms.

    They do offer farmer’s market vouchers for fruits and veggies too though, which is nice. If only we could redesign that program, just a few tweaks…. sigh. Imagine how much people’s attitude and energy would change just by feeding them better.

  16. Great menu to show people how to eat! My son has been fairly paleo since he started eating. He wasn’t into food until around 15 months, but I wasn’t worried since he got breast milk :) I will admit, there were a few times when I was slightly jealous of the ease of my friends who had babies that gobbled up those pouch foods. I can’t complain now at all! He is almost 3 and eats just about anything while most of my friends have “picky” eaters on their hands who live on cereal and mac’n’cheese. I don’t really have “kid” food in the house since there is no difference in his food and ours.

    Our breakfast is pretty much the same everyday… Eggs and meat with berries! People are amazed that he eats 2-3 hard boiled eggs, but it is only 140-210 calories. I get tired of explaining that without the added sugars and flour, it’s fairly hard to eat too much!

  17. I can imagine some items like nuts being an issue just from a cost perspective, but overall I’d much prefer to see that than the first menu! My daughter went to a Reggio Emilia daycare 3 days per week when we were living in our home country (now overseas).
    They were not primal/paleo (100 bonus points to whoever finds a place like that!) but the menu was pretty good. Lunches were things like shepherd’s pie, beef stir fry and rice, mild chicken curry, baked fish, soup etc. All lunches came with veges and were not too carb heavy. The morning snack was gf toast and fresh fruit (hmm, not my favourite idea) but the afternoon snack was just fresh fruit on its own. They also did lots of growing their own food and then cooking it with the children, which meshed really well with my own food philosophy.

    • Meryl,

      I agree. Nuts are probably cost prohibitive for a daycare but I put them on there knowing that some daycares are private and charge higher rates based on quality and to add variety. As long as they are not served too often, it might be doable. Also, they are fine if using the menu for home. :)

  18. Love your suggestions. Our little guy’s daycare menu is pretty similar to the Typical Day Care Fare you list above – some form of grain at every meal. While we do allow him to have a small amount of grains (usually for his lunch) we always end up sending in alternative snacks. Yogurt, fruit and larabars are our go-tos. It’s really sad that most folks don’t have a clue that the nutirional guidelines they are following are just so wrong!

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  20. While this is a great menu for your own kids at home (or to send with them), another reason daycare menus are not that great nutritionally has to do with costs. Home daycare providers make very little money per child. And, they deal with all kinds of unexpected situations that can dramatically affect their income stream. In my state, a typical home daycare provider makes $150-$250 a week per kid (higher end for very young babies) – this is typically for more than 40 hours a week, too. Now, if you’re feeding your group of kids what you should be feeding them, that’s a good chunk of your pay going to feeding them. Which is why daycare providers will often feed their daycare kids cheap, bulk garbage foods even when they know what they’re feeding them is terrible. Not to mention, there is this grand expectations from parents that you can feed them a home cooked meal while also never taking your eye or attention off them. Or, you’re going to waste the few precious hours of the day you get with just your family prepping food every night instead.
    Yeah, it is just better to pack your kids their own lunch for daycare. Or, you could pay quite a bit more for daycare if you can find a provider who would like to feed all the kids a healthy paleo diet!

  21. Laws. Also laws can restrict what the daycare is allowed to do.
    I’m in the middle of training for ECE in Ontario, and one of the things I’ll be hiring a lawyer for is how to serve a healthy menu, without tripping over the damned laws.
    http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/regs/english/elaws_regs_900262_e.htm#BK8

    “40. (1) Every operator shall ensure that each child one year of age or over that is in attendance in a day nursery operated by the operator or in a location where private-home day care is provided by the operator is provided with,
    (a) subject to section 43, where the child is in attendance at meal time, a meal consisting of at least one serving from milk and milk products, one serving from meat and alternates, one serving from bread and cereals, and two servings from fruits and vegetables within the range set out in Column 2 or 3, as the case may be, of Schedule 1, for each food group set out opposite thereto in Column 1 of Schedule 1, except where otherwise approved by a Director in the case of a child who is 44 months of age or over as of August 31 of the year; and
    (b) nutritious between-meal snacks consisting of foods that will promote good dental health at times that will not interfere with a child’s appetite for meal time. R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 262, s. 40 (1); O. Reg. 505/06, s. 9.
    (2) Where a child referred to in subsection (1) is in attendance for six hours or more, the operator shall ensure that the total food offered to the child over the period of attendance for each food group set out in Column 1 of Schedule 2 is within the range set out opposite thereto in Column 2 of Schedule 2. R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 262, s. 40 (2).”

    Literal pain in my behind. *sigh*