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Watch "Cost, Quality and the Cycle Menu"
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Great Trays™ Toolkit for School Foodservice

Menu Planning

School menu planning can be a complex task — check out these resources and tools to help you plan great menus for great trays.

Menu Planning Templates | Samples and Suggestions | Food Group Guides | Nutrition Standards | Recipes

Menu Planning Templates

These worksheets help you plot a week’s worth of entrées, grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, and condiments so you can assess your program against the new standards. Learn more about the nutrition standards.

You may find it useful to complete the Characteristics of Your School/District (276 K PDF) worksheet before planning your menu.


Samples and Suggestions

Need fresh ideas for your cycle menu? Use our Sample Cycle Menu, Entrée Suggestions, and collection of simple scratch recipes for inspiration.

Sample Cycle Menu (338 K PDF) — Provides ideas and inspiration as you work to align your menu with the new USDA rule on school meal programs.

Entrée Suggestions (137 K PDF) — Tasty suggestions for meat and meatless school entrées.

Now We're Cooking! (768 K PDF) — A collection of simple scratch recipes tested in Minnesota cafeterias for student acceptability, cost, and ease of preparation. See at a glance how many servings of whole grains; dark green, red/orange, starchy, and other vegetables; and legumes are in each portion of every recipe.

Food Group Guides

Running short on ideas about how to meet different requirements? Use our Food Group Guides. Includes lists of options for each group and subgroup as well as menu ideas for using them.

apple Fruits
(80 K PDF)
vegetables Vegetables
(381 K PDF)
bread Whole Grains and Enriched Grains (130 K PDF)

Nutrition Standards

Nutrition Standards for School MealsFood and Nutrition Service; United States Department of Agriculture — Review the new standards for school meals, as well as technical assistance and guidance materials.

Lunch Meal Pattern (119 K PDF) — Minnesota Department of Education — A detailed breakdown of meal pattern requirements for School Nutrition Programs as published in the 2012 USDA Food Buying Guide.

Get the FAQS on the "Act"Minnesota Department of Education — Answers to frequently asked questions about the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and changes in the cafeteria.

Support Healthier School LunchesCenter for Science in the Public Interest — Tips, factsheets, infographics, policy options for states and localities, and communication materials to help support the changes to school meals.


Recipes — School foodservice-tested and kid-approved recipes that build upon farm to school efforts. Part of the Minnesota Toolkit for School Foodservice.

Recipe FinderHealthy Meals Resource System; United States Department of Agriculture — The HMRS Recipe Finder contains over 750 recipes for school and child care foodservice professionals, and is searchable by ingredient, course, and cuisine.

Beans Healthy Meals Resource System; United States Department of Agriculture — Find recipes, fact sheets, resources, and nutritional information to help you incorporate more beans into the menu!

Whole Grains Healthy Meals Resource System; United States Department of Agriculture — MyPlate recommends "making half your grains whole." Recipes, facts, tips, and more to help your students meet this goal!

More from Great Trays™: About Great Trays™ | Preparing Food | Marketing | Purchasing | Best Practices

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