The Case for Quality Menus


The kitchen is one of the most important components of a successful skilled nursing/asPicture4sisted living facility, and it presents one of the most undervalued opportunities for overall improvement in resident satisfaction.  Not only are meals very important to residents,  but the kitchen is a large expenditure for facilities in both food and labor.

Surprisingly, many of us do not recognize the opportunity we have in the kitchen to increase resident satisfaction and to control costs.   As managers, we often do not have the time to analyze costs, trends, and preferences.  We may not have the time to dissect a weekly menu and make a determination that the cost of that particular menu may put us over budget.  Further, we may not realize that there are other less expensive choices which are equally desirable. Sometimes all we say is,  “We’re getting by,”  without really paying close attention to the quality of our choices.  With a dietician’s sign-off on the menus, we do our best to negotiate pricing with a food vendor, and call it a day.  Sometimes, this is just what we do with our limited time.

Grove Menus recognizes these limitations and helps providers achieve greater success with minimal time expenditures.  This is the foundation of a dietary software program created to take the pain and complexity out of providing delicious, nutritious meals and at the same time attain significant savings.

Grove Menus originated 20 years ago when Diane Fager, a licensed and registered dietician, and her husband purchased an assisted living facility.  Diane began writing menus for their facility and soon discovered her innate talents and gifts for creating menus.  Other facilities discovered her work and the demand for her menus increased.   As time passed, it became apparent that the “one-size-fits-all” menu was not adequate.  Diane realized there was great need for customizing and tailoring capabilities within a menu.  With this realization, Diane formulated the premise for Grove Menus, an online software program that prepares menus according to differing needs and preferences.  The heart of the program is a vast data base of recipes, tested and scrutinized over the years, by many users all over the country.

The program was created as a web based software program which allows facilities to adapt menus, while at the same time, having their options controlled to meet state nutritional guidelines.  This software has since evolved to be a full service dietary management program.

Grove Menus provide drop-down lists which allow users to select recipes that work best in their particular facility.   Users can designate the number of clients being served, which in turn adjusts the recipes, shopping lists, and cost estimates according to that number.   All selections are automatically integrated into every aspect of the program .   The program provides nutritional analysis, therapeutic diet extensions, and financial tools to assist the user in estimating costs.

Menus are the focus at Grove, not a secondary attraction.  The program simplifies the kitchen, brings down food costs, and increases resident satisfaction.    The company is constantly striving to improve the product through better menus and better tools.   Diane remains the creative force in Grove Menus and she personally oversees the ongoing review and selection of the recipes, and the formulation of the weekly menus.  The company has learned that the quest for perfection demands constant attention and refinement.  Grove Menus is committed to this continuous advancement.

The food we eat is one of the most important parts of our day.  For those who can no longer fully care for themselves, meal time becomes the highlight of the day, second only to visits from loved ones.  Meal time affects the quality of life for the elderly and the dependent in multiple and significant ways:  meal time is a diversion and meal time brings pleasure and comfort.  Yet in our effort to provide pleasure and satisfaction, we still need to be vigilant.  Food must support health and physical well-being.

While there may be no such thing as a perfect menu, there can be a balance of time, resources and client satisfaction.  Residents can enjoy delicious, nutritious food and providers can realize savings in time and money when we pay a little more attention to opportunities for improvement in one of the most critical aspects of our business.