[Free Download] 2017 Meals Plus Customer Cookbook

To show our appreciation our Meals Plus Customers, we have published our 2017 Meals Plus Customer Cookbook! This free cookbook is filled with over 40 popular recipes in an effort to help increase participation in the lunchroom, while still meeting USDA meal pattern regulations. It also includes creative promotional ideas and award-winning recipes from student cooking competitions from Middletown City Schools (OH) and Lexington School District One (SC). 

Hard copies are available for purchase at cost. Email recipes@mealsplus.com for more information. You can also download the cookbook completely free, here!

Would you like to submit a recipe for our 2018 Customer Cookbook? Email them to recipes@mealsplus.com. You can submit as many recipes as you’d like, and we welcome photos of your dishes.

Thank you for being a part of the Meals Plus Family, and Happy Holidays!

Spice Up National School Lunch Week – Creole Style!

This week is National School Lunch Week!

For NSLW 2016, we are featuring recipes from our 2016 Meals Plus Customer Cookbook. This cookbook will feature 50+ delicious school meal recipes submitted by Meals Plus Customers and school lunch recipes using USDA Foods. And best of all – every Meals Plus Customer receives one free copy! Our third featured recipe is from the Lexington One Cooks! Student Cooking Competition. Skyler Hustus won the first runner up prize in the Middle School Division with his recipe for Creole Baked Chicken.

Ingredients:
6 servings – breast or thigh roasted 4 piece fully cooked chicken breast and thighs
1 lb. – canned diced tomatoes, in juice 6/#10 cans; as purchased
1 c. – chopped raw onion
1 c. – chopped sweet green raw peppers
1/4 tsp. – table salt
1/4 tsp. – garlic powder, spices
1/4 tsp. – chili powder, spices
1/4 tsp. – parka, spices
1 tbsp. Canola extra virgin olive oil

creole-baked-chickenDirections:
CCP: Wash, rinse, and sanitize all food contact surfaces.
CCP: Wash hands properly before beginning food preparations.
1. Preheat oven to 375 degree.
CCP: Cook raw chicken to 165°, CCP: Cook all “Fully Cooked” commercially processed foods to 135°.
2. Bake fully cooked chicken until an internal temperature of 135 degrees is reached.
CCP: Wash fresh fruits & vegetables under cold running water. 
3. While chicken is baking in a 2qt sauce pan sauté onions and peppers in olive oil until translucent. Add tomatoes and seasoning and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes.
4. Top each portion of chicken with 3oz of sauce and serve.

creole-baked-chicken2Nutrients per serving:
Calories – 219.255
Chol (mg) – 99.943
Sodium (mg) – 403.255
Fiber (gm) – 1.942
Iron (mg) – 0.431
Calc (mg) – 57.991
Vit A (IU) – 432.387
Vit C (mg) – 28.022
Protein (gm) – 20.239
Carb (gm) – 7.013
Tot Fat (gm) – 12.479
Sat Fat (gm) – 3.710
Sugars (gm) – 0.000*
Trans Fat (gm) – 0.000*

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Why You Should Consider Using Cycle Menus and More Menu Planning Tips

Menu planning can become tedious for you and your students if it is repeated monthly.  And now that the menus have stricter nutrition standards, planning becomes even more of a challenge. Child Nutrition Operations Consultant Cynthia Sevier, SNS, has compiled these tips to ease the pain of district menu planning.

Control-centralized cycle menus are more likely to control the number of menu items than those developed by individual school site managers. A centralized cycle menu creates a pattern which:

  • Students are familiar with and expect to see
  • Staff members are more likely to be familiar with preparation requirements resulting in less waste
  • Managers are able to forecast the menus items that students will choose

Menu PlanningStudent acceptability. Consider utilizing only the most popular items and dropping those that are not selected by at least 25 students per day. Keeping unpopular items on the menu increases inventory cost because turnover is slow. Menus should be developed to utilize commodities and produce while-in-season to control plate costs.  Streamlining certain products that can be utilized in more than one recipe is a cost controlling measure.

Appealing, appetizing choices. Students have so many choices now. Those choices are not limited to those served in the school cafeteria. Children dine out with parents and are becoming more sophisticated in their food selections. Are the school menus offering fresh foods that are prepared correctly and served in an appealing manner? Is there a variety of colors, tastes and textures within each menu?

Ease of preparation and serving. Menus should be developed with consideration of amount of preparation that will be required and the type of equipment to be used for optimizing the product. Are there too many items that will need oven preparation on a given menu, creating competition for oven space? Consider the number of items that will be on the serving line and the ease of serving. Are the lines too crowded? Students should be able to move through the line quickly and not be slowed by waiting on servers. Menus full of items that have to be “dipped” can slow the line.

Plan the menu using the above tips early so that wise food and equipment purchases can be made. For more tips from Cynthia and other child nutrition professionals, check out the Meals Plus White Paper Library for free downloads.

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Wake Up to School Breakfast!

nutritional_analysis_software_2National School Breakfast Week (NSBW) is right around the corner! To celebrate, every day that week (March 7-11, 2016) we will share a breakfast recipe from our Meals Plus Child Nutrition Cookbook here on our blog. So be sure to follow our blog, and for ideas to celebrate NSBW in your school cafeterias, visit the School Nutrition Association’s website.

Do you have a recipe that’s increased breakfast participation in your cafeterias? Email it to us and we will feature it on our blog!

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Meet the Meals Plus Team – Graham

Get to know the Meals Plus Team! Graham is an integral part to the Meals Plus Team, as he represents what’s important to child nutrition – feeding children and keeping your lunchlines moving!

The Dish: How long have you been with Meals Plus?
Graham: I have been a part of Meals Plus since 2007, but really became ‘the face of Meals Plus’ in 2011. I started off small, by encouraging Meals Plus customers to register for our helpful webinars, and now I attend child nutrition conferences, am featured in School Nutrition magazine, and travel with our technical account specialists for new customer ‘go-lives’ and training sessions. I love it!

TD: What duties does your position entail?
G: I am sort of a liaison for Meals Plus Customers. Like I said, I connect them to our webinars, trade shows, and at new customer ‘go-lives,’ I help train cashiers. I’ve been in school cafeterias for years and want to help our customers fully utilize the Meals Plus product suite so they can operate the ideal K-12 lunchroom.

TD: What do you like most about working with Meals Plus?
G: I really love connecting with our customers! I like to think that the Meals Plus Team takes care of the people who take care of feeding children, and isn’t that the most important thing? My absolute favorite part of being in the cafeteria is seeing the students come through the line. It makes you realize that everything we do is for them.

TD: What do you like doing in your free time?
G: I am passionate about school nutrition and making sure Meals Plus customers have what they need to keep their lunchlines moving, so I like to read articles and watch webinars about our industry. And I take every opportunity to attend child nutrition events and talk to directors across the country about their operations. It’s so beneficial to find out what challenges they are facing and what successes they are having in their cafeterias, so I can help prevent the bad and share the good. Outside of the child nutrition industry, I like cooking, traveling, sports, and going to the beach!

TD: What was your favorite meal when you were in school?
G: Like most of the Meals Plus Team, my favorite meal was pizza. But last year, we published our first-ever Meals Plus Customer Cookbook, and WOW, did our customers submit some great recipes! They were are all tasty (click here to read some of the recipes) and one of my favorites is the Baked Cornbread Apple Cranberry Stuffing from Tracy Green-Deserto at Orange-Ulster BOCES (NY).

Follow Graham’s Adventures on Facebook! He will be posting photos of trips on the Meals Plus Facebook Page, and you can click here to see all of his adventures.Lunch_programs_in_schools

Meals Plus Customer Spotlight: Linda Miller, Perkins Local Schools (OH)

Linda Miller of Perkins Local Schools (OH) is a long-time Meals Plus customer that is still finding new ways Meals Plus can help her child nutrition operations. She recently implemented the Menu Planning and Nutrient Analysis program, which helps her stay on top of allergies, menu components and has been “a huge time saver” for her. Get to know Linda in this “Meals Plus Customer Spotlight” and click here to “meet” other food service directors from across the US!

The Dish: How long have you been using Meals Plus?
Linda Miller: I have been a Meals Plus customer since the Fall of 2002. Ben Hooks (CEO) came to demo the system and helped set our school up. As more requirements have been placed on the shoulder of food service directors, I have come to rely on my Meals Plus cafeteria software more and more.

TD: What duties and responsibilities does your position entail?
LM: I am responsible for everything from soup to nuts and bolts! I manage my staff, order food, prepare bids and menus, along with the nutritional analysis of those menus. I am responsible for the upkeep of my software and tons of paperwork that the Meals Plus system helps me with, and even order the equipment and repair parts when necessary. Anything within the Food Service Department winds up on my desk. Meals Plus has made my job easier. Our school is up for review this year and I will be using many of the reports to prepare for the review. Thank you, Meals Plus!

TD: What aspects of your position do you enjoy the most?
LM: I truly enjoy my interactions with the students and my staff. They are what my job is all about.

TD: What do you like to do in your free time?
LM: I have two grandchildren, ages three years old and six months old. They are the light of my life. My husband and I both enjoy gardening, so I’m busy in the summer with flowers and preserving all the vegetables from the gardens. I also enjoy cooking, cross stitch, knitting, crochet and sitting down with a good book.

TD: What is your favorite lunch when you were in school?
LM: Pizza burgers and the wonderful homemade cookies our lunch ladies made every day! I have some of those cookie recipes from my high school days that I still make.

Thank you, Linda, for being a part of the Meals Plus Family!

Nutrition analysis software

Menu Planning Software that Allows You to Create Menus with Ease

With the Meals Plus menu analysis software, managing school cafeteria menus and staying compliant with USDA guidelines is easy! You can also create calendars to send home with your students. And it is integrated with the Meals Plus cafeteria inventory management software, automating many of your daily processes.

Call 1-800-541-8999 or request a free 30 day trial for more information!

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