Each year I review the camp menu and the food preparation worksheet from the prior year. My goal is to check the acceptability of each item on the menu. I them have to decide if I'll replace less popular menu items or look for a recipe that uses different flavors.
Even though our camp really doesn't have any vegetarians, meatless options are served on the steam line and salad bar. Few menu items enjoy 100 percent acceptability. Vegetarian items are given as an alternative. And they're there for undeclared vegetarian campers.
The popularity of some items -- chicken tenders on opening night, for instance -- have steadily decreased each year. During the inaugural year in 2002, the campers couldn't get enough. Now I trim the amount I purchase each year even though I'm feeding more campers each year.
I haven't decided if I'll replace the chicken tenders. If I don't, I may "repackage" the meal with new flavors, like in a sandwich on a hoagy roll. I could also use the pulled chicken (I purchased too much in 2007 anyway!) and make a quick fajita or burrito. I'll keep you posted.
A NOTE ON MY MENU PLANNING PHILOSOPHY
I've found the best way to get campers to eat is to provide good food -- food that's familiar and food they enjoy. My menus follow the proposition, "You can lead the children to the table, but you can't make them eat."
It does no good to prepare nutritionally sound meals if the campers won't eat. A low-fat meal loaded with multi-grain breads and cereals may look good on the nutritional drawing board. But it does not benefit children if they won't eat.
I find my role as chief cook and menu planner as one who finds that balance between nutrition and the need to feed a diet to campers that will satisfy their social and health needs.
Elisa (left) and Lisa assemble lasagna for Tuesday night's dinner. (To confuse matters, I also have an Alisa on staff!)
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