More Plants Please!
Why More Plants Please!
Chef Ann Foundation programming centers on supporting schools in developing and sustaining school food operations that serve healthy, fresh food made from scratch. More Plants Please! offers recipes, promotional materials, and resources designed to get more plant-based proteins into schools. Plant-based proteins like beans and tofu credit to the USDA meal pattern and are nutritious and delicious additions to school food menus.
Why Have More Plant Forward Meals in Schools?
In the United States, more than 30 million students eat lunch every day. If schools begin to incorporate more plant forward meals into their operations, and students choose to eat those meals, the impact on the environment, student health, and school food finances could be huge. Because schools serve such a large population, serving one vegetarian or plant-based meal once a week or once a month is beneficial. Plant forward meals focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and reduced meat proteins to introduce students to a healthy diet at a young age. A diet focused on plants is also better for the environment, as most plants take fewer resources to produce than meats.
To support schools in offering more scratch-cooked options, focused on plants, we have developed new plant forward recipes that fit USDA meal requirements and have been tested in real school kitchens and tried by actual students. Educational and eye-catching marketing materials explain to school communities why this is so important and the impact it can have on both the environment and student health. Plant forward does not mean changing an entire meal program, but rather focusing on the inclusion of plant forward options that can have big results.
View, download, and use the recipes and menu cycles (K-5 Lunch, K-8 Lunch, 6-8 Lunch, & 9-12 Lunch), share the educational marketing materials, and get the facts on why more plants are healthier for our bodies, our planet, and our school food operations.
How It Works
How to get More Plants into your School
More Plants Please! consists of two main resource areas for you to use in your school district to encourage more plant forward dishes at lunchtime: Recipes and Menu Cycles and Marketing and Promotional Materials. Together, these recipes, marketing materials, and resources provide what is needed to take the first steps towards a healthier student population and a healthier planet.
Recipes and Menu Cycles
We consider a recipe to be plant forward if it:
- Is free of animal protein
- Is vegetarian
- Is a traditional meat-based recipe where some of the meat has been replaced with plant-based proteins that credit to the meal pattern
We compiled a complete list of the new recipes developed specifically for More Plants Please! in addition to existing plant forward recipes for you on the Recipes tab. These recipes include dishes like Chickpea Masala, Zucchini Boats, and Quinoa Burgers to introduce children to new and delicious menu items that help establish healthy eating habits with a positive environmental impact. These recipes are also combined to create six one-week plant forward menu cycles that still offer meat-based options but are focused on incorporating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and plant-based proteins into meal programs.
To encourage students to eat more plants and try more plant-based meals, download and print large (24 in x 36 in) wall posters to hang in classrooms, hallways, and the lunchroom. These posters highlight both the health benefits and the positive environmental impacts of eating more plant forward meals.
To cultivate a plant forward eating community in and out of school, download and print two flyers that explain what plant forward means, why it’s a healthier way to eat, and how to do it. The take-home flyer for families includes ideas for making one-bowl plant forward dinners to get the whole family eating less meat and more vegetables, and the flyer for staff encourages plant forward appreciation, action, and support amongst your school faculty and staff members.
To priovide the rationale behind eating more plant forward meals and to provide a greater understanding of its benefits, we compiled an annotated list of links to research and news articles for you on the Resources and Tools tab.
Tools and Resources
Posters and Flyers
Download and send these files to your local print shop so you can use them to promote eating plant forward because it's healthier for our bodies and better for our planet.
Water Consumption Impact
This poster is designed to show students how much water it takes to produce a meat-based lunch versus a plant forward one.
Can You Grow It?
Encourage students to try foods at lunch that grow on a vine, tree or in the ground.
Water Consumption Impact
This poster is designed to show students how much water it takes to produce a plant forward lunch versus a meat-based lunch.
Meat Production Impact on Air Quality
This poster is designed to show students the impact that meat production has on air quality.
Eat Plants & Stay Healthy
This poster encourages students to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based proteins.
How Much Water?
Use this poster to help explain the amount of water different sources of protein take to produce.
Now Serving: Plant Forward Meals
Use this flyer to help explain the importance of eating plant forward meals to staff.
Eat Plant Forward at Home!
Send this flyer home with students to show families easy ways to eat plant forward at home.
Research, Articles, and News
Check back for an updated list of research, articles, and news that supports and explains plant forward eating.
Plant Forward Recipes
Plant Forward Recipes
Chef Ann Foundation tests all recipes on The Lunch Box in school kitchens and lunchrooms. Students have tasted and approved these recipes, so you can feel confident serving them in your lunchroom.
Scroll down to see the new More Plants Please! recipes in addition to recipes already on The Lunch Box that fit our plant forward criteria: free of animal protein, vegetarian, or a portion of the meat is replaced with plant-based proteins that credit to the meal pattern.
You can use the recipes individually or together in menu cycles that have already been built out.
How to Use
- Each recipe has been analyzed for the USDA meal components; that information can be found on the “Food Groups/Meal Patterns” tab.
- From each recipe page you can scale the recipe, save it as either a pdf or an Excel file to your computer, and view and save the nutrient analysis and the costing. The costing is based on Boulder Valley School District's procurement since they developed the recipes.
- To scale the recipe, change the “Standard Yield” number and click the “Scale” button. To return to the default standard batch size, click the “Reset” button.
- Ingredient yield factors, where applicable, can be found at the top of the Recipe Instructions tab in “Pre-Preparation Instruction” fields where applicable.
- The recipes are offered in their tested batch sizes. Although they are regularly used for meal counts in excess of 2,000, we recommend scaling batch sizes to be compatible with your equipment. Since seasonings are particularly affected by increased scaling, we suggest taste testing as you increase quantities.
New More Plants Please! Recipes
Register to Download The Lunch Box Tools
Please help us keep The Lunch Box tools and resources free for all users by registering here! It will help us demonstrate to our supporters how this site is used in school food work.