Part 2 -Recipes, Menu Sandbox and Admin Review Reports

The instructions below assume that the Vendor Item Upload is complete, Item database is loaded, and Item set up summary has no warnings. A best practice when creating recipes is to first have all items and ingredients that go into that recipe be items already created and entered into the local Item Database. This way, all GDSN or Generic data associated with the ingredients is available for use without further data entry.

Product Updates

It's important to stay informed about any changes made by the manufacturer to ensure that you have the most accurate and up-to-date information. That's why we have implemented a Product Updates module that will allow you to easily access any changes made by the manufacturer.

To access the Product Updates module, simply go to the left-hand side of the screen and select it. You will be presented with a list of items that have updates from the manufacturer. We recommend that you check this module at least once a week to stay informed about any changes made.

GDSN Connect allows you to easily track and manage the status of items that require your attention. With this feature, you can quickly identify and display items that have been resolved, as well as view the number of items that still have unresolved changes.

The first column shown is the Item Name, name used in inventory system.

Item ID

Menu Item Name, name used on the menu.

Menu Item ID

Updates Date, the date that the item was first updated.

Source, where the information is coming from.

DEX ID, the unique identifier.

Updated info, description and/or category of what has updates.

Selecting an item will display a detailed breakdown of its information across three tabs: Item Info, Allergens and Nutrients, and Meal Components. These tabs display all updated or changed product information, and each element can be accepted or rejected independently to ensure that your data is always accurate.

At the top of each tab, you'll be able to view the source of the information, providing you with complete transparency and confidence in the data you're working with. On the left-hand side of each tab, you will see the current information that's stored in your item database, while the right-hand side displays the new information that is coming from GDSN.

With this level of detail and control, you can easily manage and update your product information with confidence, ensuring that your districts have access to the most accurate and up-to-date information possible. 

You will see a red exclamation point on the tab that contains updates. This indicates that there are changes to review. It's important to carefully go through the updates before deciding whether to accept or reject them. When it comes to Allergens, you must either accept all of the changes or reject them all. It's not possible to accept or reject the changes for individual claims.

*Meal pattern credits are scaled to the serving size of the nutrients. Some case may have odd numbers for example 2.715oz of Meat/Meat alternates, it's recommenced NOT to round up/down as it will cause it to have an incorrect value. 

Data Sources


It's important to have a clear understanding of the origin of item data. Branded item data is sourced from GDSN, which is the industry standard for high-quality and reliable data. Data for generic items may be obtained from a variety of sources such as the Food Buying Guide, Food Data Central, USDA sources, or directly from suppliers.

The Standard of Identity, a source overseen by the FDA, provides information on the allergens present in items.

If you come across a source listed as "Not Provided" or "User", it means that the information is either missing or was added by a user.

Creating New Recipes

Creating new recipes is an essential part of food service operations which allows users to create recipes and place them in the Menu Sandbox to ensure they meet standards for an Admin Review. In this section, we will learn how to create new recipes and add ingredients. Select Recipes from the left-hand side. 

  1. To search for public recipes that have been published to GDSN Connect, start by clicking the [+] button and selecting "Search N2F Database".

  2. Next, enter a search term such as "Chicken" to find recipes related to your search. A list of items will then be displayed, including Recipe Name, Image, Brand, Meal Session, Meal Components, and Allergy information.

  3. Once you select a Recipe you will see three tabs, Recipe Info, Ingredients and Directions, and Nutrients and Meal Components. From here review the information and select if the recipe will be for an Entree or Side.

  4. On the Ingredients and Directions tab you can view all of the ingredients and see if it's items you already have in your database. If any of the items aren't in your database yet, it will add those Generic items, and you can then swap them out. You will also see Directions and Notes. 
  5. Select Add to add the recipe to your local District. 

You can also add a new recipe to your local District making it from scratch. Start by selecting the [+] and select Add New Recipe. 

When adding a new recipe, it's important to fill out all required fields to ensure that the recipe is saved correctly. To get started, open the Add Recipe flyout and fill out the following fields:

  • Entree or Side: Select whether the recipe is an Entree or a Side. This choice will determine where the recipe is placed when added to a menu.
  • Recipe Name: Enter a name for the recipe. This will be how the recipe is displayed in the Recipe database and how you will search for it when adding it to a menu.
  • Recipe #: Enter a number for internal tracking purposes.
  • Meal Session: Choose a meal session from the drop-down list. This selection will limit the recipe's availability when building a menu to the same meal session.
  • Yield: Enter the number of servings the recipe will make.
  • Weight: Enter the weight of a single serving of the recipe in ounces, pounds, or grams.
  • Measure: Enter the measure of a single serving of the recipe, such as each, cups, tablespoons, or teaspoons.

Once all required fields have been completed, click the Save & Continue button to save the recipe. The recipe will open up and allow the user the start adding all the necessary information to complete the recipe. On the Recipe Info tab you'll see a list of information that is required to enter indicated with a red asterisk. 

Optional recipe information can also be added like:

  • Customer Facing Name: If you want the recipe to appear with a different name on online menus, enter a name here that will override the Recipe Name.
  • Recipe Category: Choose a category from the drop-down list that corresponds to the recipe's type, based on the USDA's standard recipe categories.
  • HACCP Category: Select a category from the drop-down list that corresponds to the recipe's Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) category, based on the USDA's standard categories.
  • Cost Per Serving: This is the cost of all the ingredients divided by the yield of the recipe, and it can be entered here.
  • Image: You can upload a custom image for the recipe, which will appear on online menus (where applicable).

To add ingredients and directions to a recipe, navigate to the Ingredients & Directions Tab. Here, you'll find the "Manually Override Nutrients & Meal Components at the Recipe Level" toggle. By default, this toggle is in the OFF position, which means that the software automatically calculates the nutrition information and meal components for a recipe.

If you have a recipe that already has this information, you can toggle the switch to the ON position. When the toggle is ON, you'll need to manually enter the nutrition information and meal components for the recipe. This might be the case if you're using a standardized recipe that already provides this information on the recipe card.

When the Manual Override toggle is ON, you'll be able to use the Add Ingredient button. This allows you to add an ingredient to the recipe that isn't already in the Item Database. However, for standardized menu planning, it's not recommended to add ingredients using this method.

Click the [+] plus sign button and choose one of the following options:

  • Search Ingredient: This option allows you to search the local Item and Recipe Database via a keyword search from the search bar. You'll see a list of returned results and be able to select the appropriate ingredient. Then, you can enter the quantity that you want to go into the recipe.

  • Advanced Search: Similar to the Search Ingredient option, this option searches the local Item and Recipe Database via a keyword search from the search bar. However, the results will be displayed in a new window which allows you to see more detailed information about the item or recipe before entering a quantity to go into this recipe and choosing to add it to the recipe.

Regardless of which option you choose, make sure to enter a weight and/or measure for how much of this ingredient will go into this recipe. Then, click the Add button to add it as an ingredient. Repeat this process for each ingredient in the recipe until all ingredients have been added.

After you have added all the ingredients, you can type any directions and notes for the recipe in the Directions and Notes box at the bottom of the screen. You can also add images for your recipe, links, or plain text, as well as format your recipe accordingly.

To save the changes you've made, click the Save button. Finally, click over to the Nutrients & Meal Components Tab. If you have the Manual Override toggle ON, review/enter the nutrition and meal component information for the recipe. If the Manual Override toggle is OFF, all data will be read only.


Menu Sandbox

The Menu Sandbox is a feature designed to help users test out their menu options and ensure compliance with Admin Review requirements. It provides a simulated testing environment where users can experiment with different menu options. To access the Menu Sandbox, simply select it from the left-hand side menu.

Once you're in the Menu Sandbox, you can create a new menu by selecting the [+] button. It's recommended that you use a consistent naming convention, such as MASTER Week 1 Elementary Lunch Menu or MASTER Week 1 Middle Lunch Menu. Then, choose the appropriate meal session, grade range, and operating days, and select Create.

To ensure efficient menu planning, it's recommended that you add your commonly used items to Monday and then copy them to the rest of the week. These items could include Milk, Chocolate Milk, Fruit, and so on. Once you've added these items to Monday, you can proceed to add the remaining items and recipes to each day of the week. This approach saves time and streamlines the menu planning process. 

To add items to the menu select Add New Item or Advanced Search. Adding a New Item will search your local database for items. Search for an item then select [Save & Close]. 


Admin Review

The Admin Review Report comprises several reports aimed at assisting in ensuring adherence to program guidelines during an Administrative Review. Each report is specific to a single week and a single Base Menu in the Menu Sandbox, and it presents detailed information on Items, Recipes, Recipe Ingredients, and compliance levels for each day of the week, as well as the weekly average. Users can access the Admin Review Reports by selecting the paper icon in the Menu Sandbox Module.

Menu Compliance Report- Is a report for school nutrition is a document that evaluates the nutritional quality and compliance of school meals with federal regulations. The report is generated by a state agency or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) after conducting an Administrative Review (AR) of a school nutrition program.

The report is typically divided into sections, with each section evaluating different aspects of the program's compliance with regulations. These sections may include menu planning, food procurement, food production, food safety, meal service, financial management, and record-keeping.

The menu compliance report includes a summary of the review findings, which may highlight areas of non-compliance and recommendations for corrective actions. The report may also include a detailed analysis of the school menu for a specific period, typically one week.

Recipe Report- A recipes report is a report that provides a comprehensive list of all the recipes used in a food service operation, such as a school nutrition program or a restaurant. The report typically includes information about each recipe, such as its name, ingredients, quantities, and cooking instructions.

Item Report-An Item report is a document that provides a detailed inventory of all food items available for purchase and use in the food service operation. This report typically includes information such as the item's name, description, vendor information, unit of measurement, and price per unit. The Item report is an essential tool for managing inventory and ordering supplies.

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