Seasonal menus offer many benefits to assisted living facilities and their residents.
Fresh, locally-grown ingredients are both more nutritious and less expensive than ingredients trucked in from thousands of miles away. Vegetables and fruits harvested from local farms provide seniors a connection with the community as well as a topic of conversation.
Of course, seasonal foods simply taste better; and seniors can definitely tell the difference.
If you are not sure how to add more local ingredients to your assisted living food menus, Grove Menus have some simple tips to get you started.
Consider Sources of Local Foods in Seasonal Menus
Start by exploring what local ingredients are available in your area.
What do the farmers in your region produce? Beets, eggplant and leeks, for example, may be in season in the fall, but if your area farmers do not grow those vegetables, you won’t be able to purchase them locally.
In addition, think about the quantities of food you need for your facility. Small, locally-owned farms in your area may grow lima beans or okra, for instance, but do they produce enough of the vegetables to supply your needs?
Base seasonal menus on ingredients that you can purchase locally in large enough quantities for facility meals. An online search can tell you what’s in season in your region, but contacting local farmers to determine which foods are practical for your assisted living facility.
In fact, you may be able to make arrangements with your local farms to supply you with — and deliver — their products, just as your institutional food supplier does.
Substitute Regular Menu Items with Local Foods in Seasonal Menus
Once you decide upon which local ingredients to incorporate into your menus, the next step is to review your existing menus. Determine which prepared items you usually serve that can be substituted with fresh, local foods and make temporary modification in your menu software.
Perhaps you routinely serve canned peaches or fruit cocktail. You could switch that out with a fresh local fruit or fruit salad. Or trade your frozen broccoli and cauliflower for locally sourced vegetables. Local ingredients can also boost the flavor and appeal of your regular baked desserts, including sweet potato or pumpkin pie, apple crisp and blueberry muffins.
Try New Recipes and Ideas for Seasonal Menus
If you find a great local source for a fresh ingredient, why not use it in a variety of ways to appeal to the residents in your facility? For example, sweet potatoes aren’t just good for pie. You could oven-roast wedges, make a sweet potato mash, add a puree to baked goods for extra nutrition or simply bake and serve them like Idaho potatoes.
Creating new recipes for your local ingredients may not be easy, however, as it requires time, effort and culinary knowledge. Grove Menus can help. Our unique program offers a variety of flexibility, including the ability to quickly and easily add seasonal menus and other customizations
Contact Grove Menus today, or visit us online, to learn more about our integrated suite of menu planning tools. View samples menu and prep lists, learn more about our dietician-approved recipes. You will be amazed at how easily our menu planning and prep program makes customization and scaling.
We look forward to helping you improve the food at your facility while saving you both money and time. With Grove Menus, creating a fresh, seasonal menu is easy and cost-effective.