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Meal Pattern Minute: Serving Meats/Meat Alternates at Breakfast

January 1, 2023

Serving a meat/meat alternate at breakfast is a good way to introduce more variety and nutrients in your Child and Adult Care Food Program breakfast menu. You can include foods such as eggs, nut butters, ham, turkey sausage or yogurt. As a best practice, choose foods that are lower in saturated fat and sodium. But how much do you need to serve and how often can you credit a meat/meat alternate at breakfast? 

Tune in and listen to our nutrition education specialist, Isabel Ramos-Lebron, MS, RDN, LD, as she explains how meat/meat alternates fit into the CACFP breakfast meal pattern. 


After you've watched the video, here are some additional things to remember about breakfast crediting, which you can find in the Crediting Handbook for the CACFP:

  • Breakfasts in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) include milk, vegetables and/or fruits, and grains. You can also serve meats and/or meat alternates instead of grains at breakfast up to 3 times per week. This option gives you more choices for menu planning.  
  • To include meats or meat alternates as part of a reimbursable breakfast, substitute 1 ounce equivalent of meats/meat alternates for 1 ounce equivalent of grains.
    • Ounce equivalents are a way to measure amounts of food. In the CACFP, 1 ounce equivalent of a meat or meat alternate is equal to 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, ½ of a large egg, or 1 ounce of lean meat, poultry, or fish. If you want to serve meats/meat alternates at breakfast more than 3 days a week, you must offer them as additional foods, which do not count toward a reimbursable breakfast. 
  • If you plan to offer a meat or meat alternate at breakfast in place of grains, it must replace the entire required amount of grains. The table below shows the minimum amount of a meat or meat alternate you would need to serve in place of grains at breakfast.

Here are some more resources that you can use when planning to serve meats/meat alternates at breakfast:

Want more meat/meat alternate recipe ideas for breakfast? Try one of these meat/meat alternate breakfast recipes at your center or family child care home! 

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