ANFP Practice Standards: Menu Planning, Calories, and Portion Sizes
Professional Standards of Practice serve as the basis for quality dietetic practice for dietary managers. The standards that follow provide guidelines for dietary managers to use when developing menus and documenting calories and diet portions.
Other Practice Standards
Last Updated December 2011
Menu planning, particularly in health care, has become a challenge. Customers expect and deserve to have food choices that are creative, colorful, and tasty. Yet the foodservice department must also ensure that foods are nutritious, safe, cost effective, and meet physician's orders. The well-planned menu is the cornerstone of a successful foodservice department and the focal point from which the modified diets begin.
What is the menu? The menu is an outline of food items that are offered by the foodservice department. Regardless of whether you offer a cycle menu, a set menu, a selective menu, or a room-service menu, it is still a list of food items from which calories and portion sizes can be determined.
The certified dietary manager (CDM) shall ensure that a menu planning process is in place in the facility. Menus shall meet the needs of the clientele as well as the employees and guests at the facility, all referred to as customers.
1.1 The menu will include a variety of foods from day to day.
1.2 The general menu will meet a government food guide such as the latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines, MyPlate or Reference Daily Intakes. (e.g. Menu will include a food from Vitamin A group every other day and from Vitamin C group daily.)
1.3 The menu will avoid repeating the same food on the same day of the week. Cycle menus should be set up so they are not divisible by seven to help avoid this. (e.g. a cycle menu that is five days long)
1.4 New food will be introduced regularly; selective menus will include a familiar food with a new food.
1.5 The menu will include a variety of preparation methods and offer contrasts in texture, flavor, and temperature.
1.6 The menu is planned for eye appeal and include at least one or two contrasting and colorful foods on each menu.
1.7 The menu is evaluated and adapted frequently to utilize seasonal fruits and vegetables in order to control costs and provide variety.
1.8 The menu includes foods that can be prepared with available personnel and equipment.
1.9 Menu planning guides such as those from vendors or books such as Food for Fifty¹ or Menu Solutions—Quantity Recipes for Regular and Special Diets² are available in the foodservice department.
1.10 Food preferences of customers are routinely assessed or when complaints warrant. (e.g. resident council meetings, quarterly assessments, individual complaints, or in quality assurance surveys).
1.11 Staff uses a checklist with criteria (such as 1.3-1.5 above) when serving meals.
1.12 Staff receives training on how to add eye appeal, prepare foods with a contrast in texture, color, and flavor, retain maximum nutritive values of foods, and keep food costs within the budget allowance.
1.13 Staff receives training on the proper substitutions and documentation for food groups. (e.g. What to serve to replace a Vitamin A group, or where to document this substitution).
1.1 Checklists used by staff are evaluated weekly and menus corrected or adapted as needed.
1.2 Training records are evaluated to ensure all cooking staff has received training in food preparation, sanitation, meal service, etc.; training records are maintained in the foodservice department.
1.3 Data from food preference surveys are used for menu planning purposes and quality control.
The certified dietary manager (CDM) shall ensure that procedures for determining menu calorie count and portion sizes for small, regular, and large servings are established according to regulatory agency guidelines or facility policies.
2.1 The CDM works with the dietitian* to establish a procedure or a standard for determining menu calorie count, including calorie levels for small, regular, and large servings, and modified diets.
2.2 The therapeutic menu is approved by the facility dietitian.
2.3 The CDM works with the cooking staff to assure standard portion sizes for small, regular, and large servings.
2.4 The general/regular menu will provide calories equivalent to the approved facility policy. An example is to serve approximately 1800-2200 calories each day, not including snacks.
2.5 The general/regular menu will provide nutrients equivalent to the approved facility policy. An example is to serve approximately 65-80 grams of protein, 60-72 grams of fat, and 250-300 grams of carbohydrate.
2.6 Calories will be determined using the established procedure for the various portion sizes.
2.7 Portion sizes for general diet are standardized according to the approved facility policy, and as specified on the menu.
2.8 Foodservice department staff receives training in portion control and the facility standards for small, regular, and large servings.
2.9 Serving sizes are checked monthly or more frequently as needed and compared to facility standard.
2.1 The general menu has been analyzed for calories and nutrient content. Menus not meeting the criteria are noted and plans of correction are developed by the CDM after consulting with the dietitian.
2.2 Training records are evaluated to make sure all cooking staff has received training in food preparation, sanitation, meal service, etc.; training records are maintained in the foodservice department.
2.3 Records that show portion size comparison to standard are monitored and plans of correction are developed by the CDM after consulting with the dietitian.
Summing it Up
We hope this practice standard will improve your understanding of menu planning, calories, and portion sizes, and will enhance the overall operations of your nutrition and foodservice department.
Food for Fifty (can also be purchased as a CD-ROM), By Mary Molt, 13th edition, 2011, Prentice Hall.
Menu Solutions—Quantity Recipes for Regular and Special Diets, By Sandra J. Frank and Robert E. Baker, 1996, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
By Susan Davis Allen, MS, RD, CHE
*Dietitian refers to one or more of the following credentials: Registered Dietitian (RD), Licensed Dietitian (LD), Certified Dietitian (CD).
Susan Davis Allen, MS, RD, CHE originally wrote this standard in 2003. It was updated in 2011 by Becky Rude, MS, RD, CDM, CFPP. Allen is an advisor to the Certifying Board for Dietary Managers. Rude serves as chair of that board.