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The Childcare Management Blog

How Meal Tracking Software Can Lower Your Childcare Program's Food Budget

Posted by EZChildTrack Team on Dec 1, 2021 1:19:17 PM

lower food budget

Every child deserves healthy meals and proper nourishment. This is the fuel they need to process and learn new things every day. However, students must also have meals with essential vitamins and minerals. These are vital for boosting energy levels, especially when studying or working on assignments.

While meal preparation is a crucial component of preparedness, meal tracking is also of paramount importance. At EZChildTrack, our meal tracking feature covers both essentials. The software is designed to help childcare programs plan and track meals, giving administrators accurate data with detailed views. This enables you to check how much food is needed per child while maintaining or lowering food budgets. In addition, meal tracking apps and software ensure school districts stay on point without sacrificing food for savings.

Ready to start meal tracking at your childcare facility? CLICK HERE TO SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION.

Benefits of EZChildTrack Software

EZChildTrack software is cloud-based and ideal for schools, daycares, afterschool programs, and school districts. Our management tools make processes and protocols more manageable for school owners and administrations with a user-friendly interface. In addition, the programs are fully compatible, and we are the nation’s leading web-based afterschool software provider. Here are some more advantages of using our technologies.

  • Empower site staff to foster increased productivity and performance across multiple departments.
  • The Parent portal increases enrollment, manages accounts, and saves your staff valuable time on administrative tasks.
  • Streamline and centralized operations from one portal: access billing, real-time data, statistics, detailed charts, and other essentials for better decision-making.
  • The perfect web-based solution that eliminates downtime and expensive IT monitoring and hardware costs.
  • EZChildTrack software is flexible, versatile, and easily integrated into management platforms that deliver better administrative tracking for preventing oversight.

Benefits of Meal Tracking

The Meal Tracking module keeps precise track of food program information with detailed information. This helps childcare providers abide by USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) mandates and guidelines. Enhanced features provide precise tracking of nutrition for individual food items served. The software even tracks family eligibility for free and reduced lunch programs for their kids. This is included in monthly reimbursement reports, allowing school districts to stay abreast of all financial reports and statements.

The meal track portal even lets you create lists of food items served with specific nutrients and vitamins. In addition, the interface features a detailed list of food items and their information from the USDA database. This makes the process easier while you create multiple menus and schedules as needed. In addition, meal tracking allows you to record meals consumed and offers more features like:

  • Define the food items that will be served and plan menus for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.
  • Create schedules for meals served and track details by an individual student or batch modes for meal counts.
  • Build weekly and monthly food menus.
  • Receive monthly meal count reports.
  • Get precise nutrition analysis for each student.

Maintaining or lowering the child care budget

Feeding students in your childcare program does not have to be expensive. With EZChildTrack meal tracking, you can carefully plan out healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks that meet all children’s nutritional needs. In addition, the software tools help you manage daily, weekly, and monthly meals served with detailed budget data. This allows you to monitor and lower costs without sacrificing food and snacks for your children.

Here are ten money saving-food tips that schools and districts may find helpful.

1.  Choose healthy foods children will enjoy

Healthy foods do not have to taste bad. There are so many health-based foods, and snacks children will enjoy. This includes fresh fruits, vegetables, granola bars, trail mix, dried fruits, yogurt, and much more. You will need to modify menu items based on students who may have food allergies or religious/dietary restrictions. Consult with parents first before planning out these special menus.

2.  Spend food money accordingly

Allocating food money for children each month keeps you on track and within budget. Spending this money wisely by purchasing food on sale – and in season – will also lower costs. The kids will get nutritious meals, and you will not be out of pocket due to expenses. Participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program is another way to lower costs for food.

3.  Plan food menus one week at a time

Planning food menus saves a lot of time and stress. This can be done one week at a time, giving cooks ample time to prepare meals. Menus also help you lower costs since you will purchase only what is needed. In addition, preplanned menus make it easier for families to know what foods and snacks will be served to their kids.

4.  Consider buying in bulk if needed

Even with preplanned weekly menus, you may run into some cost-saving deals and discounts. You can buy certain foods and snacks in bulk and safely store them until needed. As always, make sure these items have long shelf lives with extended expiration dates. Check local grocery stores and wholesale marts for the latest discounts and sales. Most stores advertise these specials online and in newspapers for your convenience.

5.  Avoid salty, fatty, and sweet foods

Children deserve nutritional meals that help them grow and stay or become healthier. Expensive snacks such as cookies and potato chips are full of harmful levels of sugar and sodium. These have detrimental effects on health and should be avoided. Even if they are on sale in retail or wholesale venues, you should opt for healthier snacks, as mentioned earlier. Health foods have been proven to enhance thinking caps and are better healthwise for children of all ages and grades.

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6.  Dairy products for breakfast and lunch

Dairy is part of the four essential food groups students need for energy. While milk is a permanent staple in childcare menus, cheese can also be served for breakfast, lunch, or snacks. Consider adding cheese but not in an overwhelming manner. Instead, carefully plan your menus with casseroles for lunch one day, cheese slices for breakfast the next day, and cheese and crackers for snacks on separate days throughout the week.

7.  Buy food items locally

Buying foods locally may save you some money and stay within the season. Organic foods from local farmers’ markets are a great way to save on costs. These markets feature many items, usually at prices much lower than local supermarket chains.

8.  Canned foods are budget savers

From baked beans to chili, canned foods are nonperishable and usually on sale. Purchasing large quantities will keep you food pantries full, mainly if you use them frequently at schools. These items come in handy when planning weekly or monthly menus. Our meal track module lets you see which the USDA recommends foodstuffs and goods for consumption in schools.

9.  Add eggs to the menu

Eggs are highly nutritious and an excellent source of vitamins like D and B12. They are also full of protein   and contain all nine essential amino acids. They can be served creamed, scrambled, baked, poached, or even hard-boiled. Whether for breakfast or lunch, eggs are an economical way to feed your schoolchildren and stay within budget. As with other foods, check which kids have allergies to eggs or daily products before planning the menus.

10.  Compare store and generic brands

Generic brands can also save you a few cents here and there. These items are a cost-effective way to stay within or lower your school food budget. Most generics do cost less on average than nationally-advertised products. You can find a wide array of generic whole-grain cereals, snacks, pasta, soups, and rice. When cooking soups or spaghetti sauce, consider making them in large amounts. You can free meal-sized portions for use later, another way to save on costs.

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