Nutrikids Nutritional Analysis

Nutrikids Nutritional Analysis – Evaluation

Maryfrances Marecic

School food service administrators face major challenges as they juggle providing nutritious foods with budget constraints and changing health directives for children. Nutrikids[TM] is designed specifically for school food service operations. The purposes of the program are to conduct recipe nutrient analyses and to expedite menu planning. By focusing on these functions, the developers have efficient data entry procedures for recipes and meal parameters. Also, analyses and menu planning can be conducted for all grades or for user-determined grade levels, such as kindergarten through 3rd grade, 4th through 6th grades, or 7th through 12th grades. For added flexibility, nutrient intake and menu planning standards are coded by the user and thus are consistent with those established by individual school districts. The ability to generate reports of the costs, nutritional values and production aspects of recipes and menus makes this program appropriate for other users as well.

The program is menu-driven and together with the manual and program windows is easy to use. Installation procedures are well described, but users should be aware of disk space requirements for the database (3.0 MB on a hard disk drive). Addition of recipes and menus will require additional disk storage space. Before entering any information, I suggest trying the tutorial. It takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes to complete and provides an excellent overview of program functions and directions.

There are six options in the main menu: Recipe Analysis, Menu Planning, Ingredients, Inventory and Costing, Production, and Supplemental Programs. Two of the options require the purchase of integrated programs (Inventory and Costing and Production) and assist in calculating recipe and menu costs, tracking inventory and creating daily production plans. Users will have to enter data necessary for these functions.

Recipe Analysis is one of the major program functions and its submenu is used to add, delete, modify, list, display and duplicate recipes, enter recipe instructions (up to 45 lines) and create sizing and preparation sheets. Entry of each recipe can take a few minutes and begins by giving a permanent recipe number, followed by a long and short descriptive title and food group. Quantity of servings and serving size for each age level are requested and used to calculate recipe yield. This is helpful when the same food is going to be prepared in more than one serving size.

Up to 30 recipe ingredients can be entered and listed individually or as batch recipes (sub-recipes). Next, the measurement and quantity of each ingredient or subrecipe is entered. Units of measurement (e.g., #10 can, lb, oz, kilo, gram, cup, leaf) are appropriate for food service. Nutrient values for the total recipe and each ingredient are shown on the final screen. On a per serving basis, the analysis shows percent yield of each ingredient, calories, cholesterol (mg), sodium (mg), fat (g), protein (g), carbohydrate (g), total nutritional values per age group, and percentage of calories from the energy nutrients. Once the nutrient analysis is displayed, ingredient modifications can be made. After the recipe is saved, serving size and yield can be altered and printed without changing it in the database (sizing). Preparation sheets can also be tailored by putting multiple recipes on one page of the printout (worksheets).

Menu Planning is another primary program function. There are two basic styles of menu planning, daily menus or choice (ala carte) menus. In the choice option, multiple menu offerings (up to 30 per day) can be specified and nutrient values shown. In the daily menu option, up to four daily meal combinations can be selected including special meals such as training table, low-fat or low-calorie. Up to eight items per meal can be entered and foods served daily (e.g., milk) can be coded as defaults. Printouts show menu date and age groups as well as nutrient information on meal totals, percentage of calories from the energy nutrients, and percentage of RDA and RDA for each age group. There are also weekly and monthly menu formats designed to assist with report writing and calendar planning. Both show meal components, nutrient totals and averages and costs. Other printout formats can be used to customize data to needs.

Adding new ingredients and establishing nutrient standards are integral to the program’s efficacy. Although the 1,400-item database is tailored to food service, recipe components may be missing (especially if their consumption is not encouraged in a school setting, e.g., candy). These foods need to be entered as ingredients using the Ingredient option from the main menu. Although entry of this information is straightforward, its accuracy is critical to the integrity of the recipe analyses. The user must locate specific nutrient values as well as other information, such as percent edible product.

Establishing the nutrient requirements used during menu planning calculations is fundamental. The program does not recommend or give suggestions for the nutrient standards used (RDAs). Therefore, it is essential that users obtain the assistance of a registered dietitian knowledgeable about the nutritional requirements of school-age children. Nutrient values can be established for all grades or specified age ranges and can include calories and percentage of calories from the energy nutrients and saturated fat, oleic acid and linoleic acid. In addition, the amount of these food components can be selected: cholesterol, sodium, fiber, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, potassium and ash. Users can select and customize the analyses, meal planning and printouts of these food components.

Other software amenities include a good support staff, frequent updates and a Nutrikids[TM] Newsletter published biyearly. The newsletter provides information about updates and maintenance contracts as well as helpful hints for marketing, promoting and modifying school food service programs.

COPYRIGHT 1993 Lippincott/Williams & Wilkins

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group