Find a chef for your team

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If you need help connecting with a chef to work with your Recipe Team, sign up on the Chefs Move to Schools Web site. Chefs use this site to find schools that are interested in working with chefs to improve school meals and help children learn about food. You could also contact local restaurants, cullinary associations, hospitals, or corporations to see if there is a chef that might be interested.

Take a mouthwatering photo

With so many entrants, make people hungry for your recipe with a great looking photo. Here are a few articles to help you get started with learning to take pictures of food.

Determine how your recipe contributes to a school meal

  • USDA Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs provides information about meal pattern requirements for Child Nutrition Programs as well as yields for food items from raw to prepared or cooked. This guide may assist you in developing recipes that meet meal pattern requirements (crediting) as served or as consumed. For example, using the Guide, you can make sure your Whole Grains recipes provides one Grains/Breads serving.
How should the Meal Contribution Statement be written and calculated?

The meal contribution or crediting statement describes how a specified portion size will contribute to the meal pattern for the Child Nutrition Program. An example statement for a Rice and Vegetable casserole might be “⅔ cup provides ⅛ cup of vegetable and ¾ serving of grains/breads”. To determine the meal pattern contribution, use the Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs to calculate the “as served or as cooked” amount from the “as purchased” amount in the recipe. For example on page 2-25, 1 lb. of fresh untrimmed broccoli will yield 9.8 – 1/4 cup servings of raw vegetable spears OR 9.4 -1/4 cup servings of cooked, drained broccoli spears OR 10.2 -1/4 cup servings of cut, cooked, drained broccoli. This yield information will help you formulate the meal contribution statement. For complete instructions on Recipe Analysis including a worksheet, refer to Appendix A in the Food Buying Guide.

Conduct a nutrient analysis of your recipe

The resources below will provide information about how to do a nutrient analysis. The Chef, School Nutrition Professional, or a nutritionist/dietitian in your community may have commercial software that you can use for the nutrient analysis.

  • Nutrient Analysis Protocols: How to Analyze Menus for USDA’s School Meals Programs: Analysis of Recipes This chapter explains procedures for conducting an accurate nutrient analysis. It is developed for school food authorities conducting their own nutrient analysis of menus and recipes. The key point to remember is to select the food item “as consumed” to have an accurate nutrient analysis. For example, choose cooked chicken without skin or a cooked vegetable if that is the way it is eaten or consumed. If the food is eaten uncooked, then choose the uncooked item.
  • USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference provides nutrient information for most foods. You can search for a food item as consumed, choose the serving size, and find the nutrients in the food item. Remember to select the “as consumed” food item for accurate nutrient values. Some of the serving sizes are in grams. (tip: 1 lb=16 oz, 1 oz =28.35 grams) and Since this resource only provides one food at a time, you will need to add up the nutrients of all of the ingredients in the recipe to find the total nutrient values and then divide by the number of servings to find the nutrients per serving.
  • Tony’s Plate Calculator is a free online program that calculates the nutrients in a recipe from the ingredients and amounts that are entered. Choose the option to create a new nutrient-data recipe.
How should the percent calories from sugar, total fat and saturated fat be calculated?

To calculate the percent of calories from sugar, multiply the grams of sugar per serving times 4 (calories per gram of sugar) to yield the number of calories from sugar. Then, divide by calories from sugar by the total number of calories in the recipe per serving and multiply by 100 to find the percentage. For total fat and saturated fat, use 9 calories per gram of total fat or saturated fat. For example, if the recipe provides 120 calories per serving with 10 grams of sugar, 4 grams of total fat and 2 grams of saturated fat, the percentage of calories from those nutrients would be 33% from sugar, 30 % from total fat, and 15% from saturated fat. The calculation for sugar would be (10 × 4 =40) divided by 120 = 0.333, times 100 = 33%.

Develop menus and recipes that are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Dietary Guidelines for Americans The Dietary Guidelines for Americans give science-based advice on food and physical activity choices for health. The 2005 edition of the Dietary Guidelines remain the current guidelines until the 2010 edition is released.

Tips for developing recipes that are lower in fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and added sugars
  • Fact sheets for Healthier School Meals These Fact Sheets offer strategies for purchasing, preparing, and serving meals consistent with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Fact sheets, such as Limit Saturated Fat & Cholesterol, Trim Trans Fat, Be Salt Savvy – Cut Back on Sodium, Serve More Whole Grains, Vary Your Vegetables, and Serve More Dry Beans and Peas especially relate to this challenge.
  • Menu Planner for Healthy School Meals The Menu Planner for Healthy School Meals provides recommendations from the 2005 Dietary Guidelines that can be implemented in menu planning: serving more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and lower amounts of sugar, saturated and trans fats, and sodium in school menus. It includes valuable information on the different menu planning options, nutrient analysis, keeping menu planning records, and marketing the School Meal Programs in schools.
  • HealthierUS School Challenge Whole Grain Resource This resource outlines the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) whole-grains criteria and offers additional background information to help school food authorities (SFAs) identify whole-grain products and offer them more frequently in their menus.

Explore ways to taste test recipes with students

Engage kids in the recipe development process, encourage them to try new foods, and get feedback that lets you know if kids will eat it or trash it in the cafeteria.
Find taste test rating forms and more

Additional Resources