Preparing Your School Kitchen for Winter Break

Learn tips to prepare your school kitchen for winter break, including making a plan for expiring ingredients and coordinating deliveries.

School lunchroom worker preparing food

As schools prepare to wrap up the calendar year, nutrition directors are making plans to leave their kitchen ready to serve students in 2023. Part of that preparation includes making a plan for the ingredients that are currently in stock, coordinating for future deliveries, and reviewing current processes to see where improvements can be made. Here, we share some tips for preparing your school kitchen for winter break.

Tips to Prepare Your K‑12 School Kitchen for 2023

Make a Plan for Ingredients That Will Expire

School cafeterias keep an inventory of ingredients on hand and, of course, wouldn’t want any of them to go to waste! If there are ingredients that will be expiring in the next few weeks, here are some ideas to use them:

  • Donate to local food banks. Get in touch with food banks in your area to find out how you can make donations. This would also be a great connection to make for future collaborations
  • Freeze what you can. Check to see if there is anything that can be preserved in the freezer for a couple of weeks. Then, make plans to include those ingredients in your first few meals after the break. 
  • Use the ingredients for any upcoming special events. End-of-year faculty and staff luncheons, holiday breakfast with grandparents – if there is a special event coming up that will require food, use your soon-to-be expired ingredients first. 

Coordinate Orders and Deliveries of Essential Ingredients

Your menus are ready to go, but do you have the ingredients you need? Be sure to review your grocery order and, if possible, place it ahead of time. Spend some time reviewing items that have faced supply chain challenges over the last few months so that you can have a backup plan. In addition, coordinate deliveries of everything you’ll need for the first couple of weeks after you return from the break. This way, you’ll come back and be fully prepared to serve your students. Remember to check your current inventory so that you don’t double order anything and end up with too much!

Review and Update Your Processes

The new year is a great time for a fresh start! Take the time to go over your processes – inventory, menu planning, reporting – and make any adjustments you need. Keep the things that worked well and create a plan to improve where necessary. Don’t forget to seek the input of your team. After all, they are the ones on the front lines. They know, better than anyone, how to be more effective so that they can focus on what matters most – feeding hungry kids! 

Download Your K‑12 2022 End of Year Checklist

Student success is the main goal of every district employee. As we all know, students can’t learn on an empty stomach. The job of the school nutrition department is a very important one. If you need a little guidance, download LINQ’s End of Year Checklist. Our team of experts has included essential tasks and tactics to consider as you wrap up the year 2022 and prepare for winter break.