Make Your Program the Upper Crust with Efficient Menu Planning

An illustrated piece of bread with a blue ribbon menu planning upper crust school nutrition

The following post is an excerpt on marketing for school nutrition programs from our FREE toolkit, Make Menu Planning Your Jam. Chockful of handy tips (and ridiculous puns), our toolkit helps you to plan your menus more efficiently while also promoting them effectively to drive even more program participation. Download your FREE toolkit to read more now! 

There’s a new school year headed our way and things are already looking brighter than they did during the height of the pandemic. People are getting vaccinated. Businesses are slowly opening their doors to patrons.  

But most importantly: many schools are returning to full-time, in-person learning. Over 60% of K‑12 students attended schools that offer traditional in-person learning by the end of April 2021 according to Burbio’s K‑12 School Opening Tracker. 
With USDA free meal extensions, there’s even more potential need for your entire operation to remain flexible this summer. If your school nutrition system is jamming up your service and keeping you from making fast changes to your menu, it’s time to consider a solution that is built to work with you – not against you. 

Successful Menu Planning Made Easy 

Menu planning doesn’t have to be a burden each month, and it isn’t when you have an efficient system to help you manage it. After you gather insights from your production records and inventory, it’s time to think about what you can do to get the attention of students to increase participation. 

When planning your menu, consider the following to keep things fresh and draw attention to the meals you offer. 

Add Fun, Themed Meals

Part of menu planning is about creating experiences around food. Take your students on a journey around the world with cultural cuisine. Give your students a taste of Paris by serving ratatouille and slices of crusty bread, or take them to Puerto Rico and serve black beans and plantains. Create meals that offer students an experience!

Connect to your Community Through Food 

When menu planning, reach out to farmers or urban garden groups in your area to get locally resourced produce for your meals. You can even work with them to build at-home kits for students that allow them to try new foods on their own time. Think smoothie kits!

Seasonal Holidays and Events  

There are so many holidays that center around food. I mean, there’s an entire day devoted to DONUTS! Weave special items into your meals when menu planning to highlight these oddball holidays. Also, go beyond the basic fall and winter holiday meals. Instead, add diversity by highlighting food that’s served during other fall and winter holidays, like Kwanza or Ukrainian New Year.

Menu Planning is Tough – Be Your Own Cheerleader!

Once you have your menus planned, you have plenty of time to start promoting, promoting, promoting! People don’t know what they don’t know.  

You must be the cheerleader for your program, breaking down poor perceptions of school meals one person at a time. School nutrition teams are powerful and stronger than peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth. While all of this might be quite the task, we know you can do it. 

Ready to Make Menu Planning your Jam? 

If your program is stuck with a school nutrition management system that makes menu planning, item management and inventory a pain, it’s time to try something new! Empower your nutrition team with an efficient and effective solution. 

Download our FREE meal planning toolkit for tons of actionable tips and tricks for marketing your school menus!