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Best Practices for Menu Substitutions in Senior Living

Julie Halfpop
Julie Halfpop | November 23, 2021

Food product availability and staffing shortages have become more prevalent since the pandemic began, often making it difficult to serve the foods you’ve so carefully planned on your menus. With these new challenges, many of us find ourselves making menu substitutions more frequently than we ever have before.

Consider these best practices when making substitutions to your senior living menus:

  • Have a Substitution Policy that states:
    • What situations allow for menu substitutions
    • Who is able to determine substitutions
    • Standard equivalents for each food group and key nutrients
    • How therapeutic diets are handled
  • Document menu substitutions in a Substitution Log to regularly review with your dietitian(s) that includes:
    • Date and day part of substitution
    • Menu that was planned originally and what was offered as the substitution
    • Reason substitution was made
  • Communicate with residents and their families
    • Display menu changes in an area that residents normally see the posted menu
    • Discuss why changes are happening and what you are doing to work with your vendors at resident council meetings
    • Convey information about supply chain challenges to families

Clear plans and communication are the keys to earning patience and good-will from your residents and their families. Keeping residents updated about the challenges and what you are doing to ease the situations will help keep dining satisfaction high.

Looking for more resources to help communicate the current need for more menu substitutions?

Click here for a sample article to post in your newsletter.

Click here for a sample social media post.

Click here for a printable poster.


Questions or comments about this article? Feel free to contact us!


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