More Plants Please!
About 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 encourage plant-based proteins in schools. Plant-based proteins like beans, tofu, soy yogurt, and tempeh are all creditable in 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 incorporated plant forward meals into their operations, the impact on the environment, student health, and school food finances could be huge. Because schools serve such a large population, serving a vegetarian or plant-based entree once a week or once a month is still 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 plants take fewer resources to produce than meat.
To support schools in offering more plant-based, scratch-cooked options we developed new recipes that fit USDA meal requirements and have been tested in school kitchens and taste-tested by students. We also developed educational and eye-catching marketing materials to show why plant forward is so important and the impact on both the environment and student health. Plant forward does not mean changing an entire meal program, but rather including plant forward options that can have big results.
Check out the recipes, 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. You can also watch the recorded session of our webinar here.
How It Works
Plant Forward Continuum
Schools can start slowly: begin by reflecting on the current menu, then strategically add or adjust recipes that move the overall menu along the continuum. Schools can find recipes that fall along each point of the continuum in the recipe section of The Lunch Box.
How to Get More Plants into Your School
More Plants Please! consists of two main resources for school districts: Recipes and Marketing & Promotional Materials. Together, these recipes, marketing materials, and resources can help any school district 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 appllies to one of the following:
- 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’ve compiled a complete list of the new recipes developed specifically for More Plants Please! (in addition to existing plant forward recipes) 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 community in and out of school, you can download and print two flyers that explain what plant forward means, why it’s healthier, and how to eat more plant-based meals. The take-home flyer for families includes ideas for making one-bowl plant forward dinners to encourage the whole family to eat less meat and more vegetables, and the flyer for staff encourages plant forward appreciation, action, and support amongst your school faculty and staff members.
We’ve also compiled an annotated list of links to research and news articles here.
Tools and Resources
Posters and Flyers
You can download and print these files, or share with your local print shop for larger formats. Marketing materials can an easy way to promote the health and environmental benefits, as well as an easy introduction to plant forward meals.
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
Plant Forward Recipes
Plant Forward Recipes
We test 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 schools.
Scroll down to see the More Plants Please! recipes in addition to recipes already on The Lunch Box that fit one of the 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; 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 an estimate based on Boulder Valley School District's procurement since they developed the recipes. Recipe costs will vary from district to district.
- 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.
- The recipes default to 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.
More Plants Please! Recipes
Check out three of our favorite plant forward recipes. Click here to see more in the recipe section.
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