Menu planning and menu planning software are two different things. Menu planning can be done in many different ways. On the simple end of the spectrum, it can be something you just have in your head and follow a certain pattern of what you serve. This is typically the easiest thing to do for households. A more complicated menu planning situation is if you have a large facility that has independent living, assisted living and memory care wings with multiple dining rooms that are feeding 200+ residents. Menus in facilities like these can get very complicated. In the long-term care market, menu planning is regulated by the states. Each state requires that you follow RDA guidelines. Each state has different regulations and meeting these regulations is required by law. Some states require that a dietitian sign off on your menus. The dietitian will check to see if the planned menu meets the state guidelines and sign it if it is correct. Many facilities will purchase pre-planned menu programs from a company that offers dietitian approved meals. Some facilities have an in-house dietitian that works with the chef to come up with an appropriate menu.
What you end up feeding your residents or your family is very important. It makes a difference for their health, happiness, and has a large impact on the budget. This is where menu planning software can help.
Menu planning software is a tool that is used to help plan a menu. There are lots of menu planning tools out there that are designed for families. Many of the large recipe sites offer menu planning options, or you can find food bloggers that produce menus and recipes. Most menu planning software comes with a pre-planned menu with their own recipes. This is more convenient, but you can find options that allow you to build a menu from scratch. Some of the benefits of using a menu planning software is that it can give you an idea of the calories, vitamins, and minerals you are consuming, generate an order list each week, and make it, so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute to figure out what you are going to prepare for dinner that night.
There aren’t a lot of options when it comes to finding a menu planning software program that is specifically designed for facilities. Most menu options available to facilities are a hard copy menu or a flat PDF where you can choose between different predetermined menu templates. If you want to customize these menus, it costs extra to makes changes, or you have to make the changes yourself and pay a dietitian to resign them with your new changes. There are some options that provide you with a dynamic menu software platform that helps you customize the menu to fit your needs all the while maintaining state guidelines. Many of these programs have extra tools to streamline and automate aspects of the kitchen.
Overall, menu planning is what is being accomplished, and menu planning software is a tool to help you accomplish the menu planning. There are solutions to fit your needs no matter what you are looking for. If you want to just plan your own menu, you can find tools and articles to help you in the process and give you ideas. If you’re going to use menu planning software, there are lots of options out there to fit your specific needs.