Choice on a plate

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

In partnership with apetito: One of apetito’s satisfied customers describes what the service provides and how it has transformed the quality, variety and appeal of its meals for children.

Catering for young children can be stressful and complex. It takes time to manage allergies, dietary needs and those fussy eaters while designing a nutritious and balanced menu. On top of that, there’s the worry vital ingredients may not be available and, while food items need to be good quality, they also have to be affordable in order to maintain careful budgets.

Claire Reynolds initially prepared the food herself when she opened Kozy Cottage Childcare in Cramlington, Newcastle but as the setting expanded she employed a cook. ‘We had our shopping delivered every week. However we often had things that were substituted for something that was not as good or which was completely different which meant that we would need time out to try and shop for the ingredients,’ says Claire.

‘If our cook was on holiday, the staff had to go in and cook. Unfortunately not all the staff had cooking ability so it did make it quite difficult and potentially myself or the manager were going in to cook, taking us away from frontline care.’

It was decided that they needed to find an alternative way of providing wholesome food that still fit the setting’s home-from-home ethos but allowed staff to concentrate on caring for the children rather than sourcing and preparing food. Their solution was to bring in the services of apetito which specialises in catering for the childcare, health and social care sector.

EASY, STRESS-FREE AND TIME EFFECTIVE

apetito offers a simplified catering solution by providing quality pre-cooked frozen foods that can simply be heated in the nursery kitchen when needed. There are more than 200 main course and dessert options so there is flexibility for settings to choose what suits their cohort of children.

An apetito main meal (consisting of protein, vegetables and carbohydrates) costs around £1.80 per child and lighter tea-time options are available for an additional cost.

Menu planning and food ordering is done online with each nursery having a dedicated ‘my apetito’ ordering platform which is designed to be quick and user-friendly. Nurseries simply search for their preferred meals on the menu planning tool, view the nutritional and allergen information and click to order. The system even suggests popular foods.

Laura Kennedy from apetito visited Kozy Cottage to show them how to order, store and prepare the food and also advise on how to devise a suitable menu, including catering for children with allergies and gluten intolerance.

'It was one of the easiest transitions,’ says Claire. Kozy Cottage decided to trial the service for four weeks with a wide range of meals – some they’d not previously heard of – and also invited parents to an open evening so that they could try the food for themselves.

‘It’s very important that we engage with the parents about what we provide for them during the day, so they know exactly what their child’s getting to eat,’ says nursery manager Denise Iley.

‘It helped the parents to taste the food and the quality of the ingredients and what the food looked like. The parents wanted to know the nutritional value of that food.

‘apetito gives you the option to print off a very detailed sheet with exactly what ingredients are in your food. We had a parent whose child had allergens they couldn’t quite figure out. I was able to print out a four-week menu for that parent to take to the specialist so she could see exactly what that child was eating, including the salt and sugar content.’

Becky, a parent who went along to the taster session, enjoyed the korma so much that she returned for ‘thirds’!

‘I think it just sets your mind at rest to know that while my child’s at nursery he’s having something good to eat every day and it does take the pressure off when you know he’s had some really good well-balanced meals during the week,’ she says.

Claire adds, ‘The partnership with apetito is fantastic, you can always get hold of somebody to speak to. They’re always offering new meals, new ideas. We can change our menu every four weeks. However it can always be different, you’re not repeating the same cycle.’

‘We wish we’d done it years ago’!

Claire is surprised by the big change that apetito has made to Kozy Cottage’s food offering.

‘The difference in the quality of the food now is just amazing,’ she says. ‘You know yourselves when you go shopping in the supermarket you have to search for good quality ingredients and the cost impact of that sometimes, whereas with apetito we know the quality is absolutely spot on and every meal that is produced is good quality meat and vegetables.’

Denise adds, ‘I would say that any nursery out there who is considering changing their menu and having a look at something new, needs to give apetito a go – commit for four weeks – give it a try. Test out the portion control, test out the menu. You’ll be amazed at the choice on offer. You have to give it a go it’s just so much easier. These children need good food during the day and it’s our job to provide that for them.’

FURTHER INFORMATION

If you would like to arrange a tasting session or discuss how apetito can support your nursery business check out: www.apetito.co.uk/nursery-meal-service or phone 01225 569411.

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