Objective: This objective of this study was a methodological analysis of the variety and diversity of dietary items and their different origins offered in institutional menus across four daycare centers serving low-income families in Guatemala City. Methods: Foods, as served in daycare centers, were used to explore and illustrate the different approaches to evaluating food quality. Foods served at daycare centers were analyzed for variety (number of different items) and diversity (using three food-classification systems). The weight and energy contributions for each meal were reported for animal, plant, mixed, or water; modern versus traditional foods; fortified versus non-fortified foods; and processed versus unprocessed foods. Results: During 5 d of observation, three of the four daycare centers served 100% of the food groups of the current Guatemalan and international classification systems. In addition, the results showed the four daycare centers provided mainly traditional and non-fortified plant-based foods. However, although the traditional foods contributed more by weight, the modern foods contributed more energy. These findings showed that the " modern" foods served at daycare centers are energy dense compared with traditional foods. Conclusions: These daycare centers contributed to variety and diversity while serving mainly traditional, plant-based foods. Our analysis went beyond the simple existence (mention) of a food as consumed to weight in grams or calories to provide potentially new and useful perspectives for understanding how guidelines for healthful eating patterns can be promoted and assessed, not only in children or in institutions but across all age groups, and settings. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.