Menu Planning
I Tried Local Taste Testing Toolkit  Minimize 

Taste Testing Toolkit
Taste tests at school provide an interactive way to boost healthful eating habits and get students excited about food grown and produced in their home state! Their feedback can be used to enhance menus – whether for tasty, nutritious meals or inventive new snacks. By consistently updating menus and introducing students to local foods and flavors, we can appeal to their taste buds while building an appreciation for the amazing bounty of flavors available in Texas.

The I Tried Local Taste Testing Toolkit provides:

1. Simple steps for launching your first taste test

2. Recommendations to make taste tests part of regular programming

3. Tips to plan and promote a special tasting event

4. Tools to help collect feedback and more!

Watch this short video to get inspired and make this a full school effort!

Menu Planning  Minimize 

When it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables, Texas offers a large selection of options all year long. Kids of all ages can and should enjoy fruits and vegetables in a range of colors each week. Texas is ripe for the picking as a source for healthful eating. Let these menu planning resources help make meal times a fun and enjoyable time of day for everyone!

These resources will help you plan your menu around seasonally available items.

Cooking for the Seasons

Cooking for the SeasonsRecipes in Cooking for the Seasons help menu planners meet the meal patterns for the National School Lunch (NSLP) and School Breakfast Programs (SBP), Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)  and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).  Each food program- NSLP, CACFP, and SFSP, have specific meal patterns. Refer to your program guides when planning your menu to ensure selected recipes credit appropriately for the designated meal component.

The standardized quantity recipes in this cookbook are designed to help you serve healthy, seasonally focused meals that will appeal to your young customers. 

All of the recipes have been tested up to 25 servings. The recipes are chef tested and kid approved for taste and appeal.

Texas Seasonality Wheel

Texas Seasonality WheelEvery fruit and vegetable has a season, the time of the year when locally grown options are easier to find and when fresh flavors are at their peak. Purchasing locally grown fruits and vegetables is good for Texans and good for local agriculture.

The Seasonality Wheel makes it easy to identify the best time of year to buy fresh produce items for Texas farmers. There are two ways to use the Seasonality Wheel. Click on a month to see what's in season at that time or click on a particular item to determine when that fruit or vegetable is growing in Texas.

Fruits and Vegetables Galore
This guide, developed by USDA’s Team Nutrition, offers tips on purchasing, presenting and promoting the fruits and vegetables used in your school nutrition program. Use this tool to help make your daily meal offerings competitive with commercial options available to students and get students excited about eating healthy. 

Food Buying Guide
This online version of USDA’s Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs was designed by the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) in collaboration with USDA. The calculator tool will help you or your purchasing agent buy the right amount of food and help you determine the specific contribution each food item will make toward meeting the meal pattern requirements.    

Chefs Move to Schools
The Chefs Move to Schools program, founded in May 2010, partners the creativity and culinary expertise of chefs with the unique demands found in school cafeterias. The goal is to ensure that America's future generations grow up healthy.

Additional resources can be found on USDA’s Farm to School Web pages.


Sample School Menus Featuring Texas Products  Minimize 
Child nutrition directors across Texas combined creativity and local products to introduce students to farm fresh foods during the October 2015 Local Products Challenge. These sample menus can inspire you to incorporate and highlight the Lone Star State’s bounty in your school menus.  

KIPP Austin Public Schools, Austin
KIPP kept it light and fresh with different lunch menu themes throughout October. They featured cabbage and whole grain wraps from Texas in a menu inspired by Mexican cuisine as well as another menu with an Asian flavor. The flexibility of Texas ingredients makes them a worldwide favorite.
KIPP Austin Public Schools Sample Menu 

Pflugerville ISD

Pflugerville discovered creative ways to use Texas produce in familiar favorites such as eggplant parmesan as well as exciting dishes new to many students like watermelon mint salad and marinated mushrooms.
Pflugerville ISD Sample Menu

Karnack ISD
Karnack elementary used local chicken to create a delicious home-style meal featuring mashed potatoes and gravy. Also, their sweet potato salad showed that anybody can stretch their budget by turning a seasonal vegetable like local sweet potatoes into a tasty salad!
Karnack ISD Sample Menu

Northeast ISD, San Antonio
At Northeast ISD students could enjoy products from Texas farms and ranches in two entrees and most of the sides. The entree choices were local barbecue chicken bites and baked potato with cheese. The tasty lunch was rounded out with local products including homemade roll, tossed salad and vegetable medley. 
Northeast ISD Sample Menu

Austin ISD
Throughout October Austin ISD featured Texas-made whole wheat breads and buns for its sandwiches and burgers. Fresh fruits and vegetables from local Texas farms also appeared on menus to ensure students could “Fuel Up to Play 60” all month long.
Austin ISD Sample MenuBack to the top

Menu Planning Resources for CACFP  Minimize 
Farm to Child Care Menu Planning Resource

Serving local and seasonal ingredients requires careful planning and preparation, but the rewards are worth the effort. TDA created this resource of recipes that meet the CACFP meal pattern and integrate seasonal ingredients available during summer months. This resource also contains a shopping list that can be modified for sites of all sizes.

Child Care Menu Planning Tips

Nutrition team members at TDA have identified the best resources to assist in increasing health and appeal of meals in early care settings while still keeping seasonality in mind. Child care menu planning tools include planning tips, recipes, cycle menus and other resources. Browse this page for kid tested and nutritionist approved recipes.

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Page link to NSLP

Page link to CACFP

Resources File 1
Resources File 2

Click on the links above to download resources to support taste tests

Assistance available in English and Spanish. Please call 877-TEX-MEAL (877-839-6325) for help.

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Commissioner Sid Miller