The winter months are meant for noshing. The cozy nights in, weekends watching sports on TV, and casual gatherings with friends all call for tempting comfort foods across the menu. As the weather cools, how can your menu persuade people to place an order instead of cook? Think tempting appetizers that can be shared, family-style entrées for social gatherings, and multi-course meal bundles that can be ordered for easy weeknight dinners.
What’s better comfort food than a burger? When your burger menu offers the right combination of options, it can be a go-to section of your menu for vegetarian and carnivore alike. A kitchen can create a wide range of burger experiences with subtle alterations in toppings, condiments, rolls or presentations, making burgers an inventory-wise menu option too. Consider how you can get creative with classic burgers, incorporate global flavors or even invent a new burger variety on your menu with a surprising combination of tastes and textures.
Gluten-free food products have experienced a period of significant growth in recent years – and there is likely more expansion to come. New research from IMARC Group on the global market for gluten-free foods forecasts 10 percent annual growth in the next five years. Offering gluten-free options on your menu is a good way to not only meet the needs of allergic consumers – items like non-perishable, gluten-free pastas and other grains can also allow your operation to cut back on waste and manage food shortages by providing an inventory buffer.
In the past couple of years, consumers have become increasingly aware of – and eager to ingest – foods that can best support their health. Fermented foods and beverages, which regulate healthy gut bacteria and support immune system functioning, continue to be in high demand. They are also smart choices for restaurant operators looking to make the most of excess produce and other ingredients on hand. This winter, is there room on your menu for additions like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, yogurt or kombucha?
While life has slowly opened back up in recent months as more people have received the Covid-19 vaccine, concern has lingered for families with children who are too young to receive the vaccine and others who have health conditions that prevent them from receiving it. As a result, this winter we can expect to see more families reforming the bubbles they created for support in the early months of the pandemic. It’s something to consider when planning your menu and marketing promotions. For families, meal bundles will likely continue to be in demand for not only the holidays but for weekend meals throughout the winter. Think about offering soups and comfort foods that can be taken home to fill the freezer, promotions that offer discounted kids’ meals with the purchase of adult meals, or to-go packages of appetizers, entrées, cocktails and desserts for small groups. At the same time, this winter could also present an opportunity for you to make your onsite promotions extra special for guests who don’t fit those categories and are looking for a good excuse to go out. Consider offering prix-fixe meals for two, date-night cocktail specials or dessert samplers, bringing in musicians, or hosting private events with your chef or sommelier
The plant-based meat market continues its climb. According to Allied Research, the global meat substitute market was valued at $4.1 billion in 2017 and is expected to surge to over $8 billion by 2026. Plant-based protein options have several factors converging in their favor, including relative environmental sustainability, growing consumer acceptance and a smoother supply chain. A recent Forbes report said that while new entrants to the plant-based meat market are facing regulatory hurdles concerning food safety and traceability, their supply chain tends to be shorter, more compact, and less water- and labor-intensive than the traditional meat supply chain – all important positives right now. New releases to the plant-based meat market are getting a boost in the media as a result: Impossible Foods just launched plant-based chicken nuggets in many popular U.S. restaurants, Nestle has expanded into vegan eggs and shrimp, and brands including McDonald’s have announced that taking a plant-based approach is a key part of its plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. You can expect plant-based meat options to occupy a larger portion of restaurant menus going forward – if not because guests are demanding them, then because the restaurant industry is requiring them in order to compete. #plantbased
More consumers may be cutting back on alcoholic beverages, but they are still craving premium drinks. Your beverage menu is an ideal tool to use to bring customers in the door to enjoy items they crave but are less apt to prepare at home or order for takeout. As the weather cools, you can pull in so many appealing flavors of the season – think warm, spicy pumpkin, caramel apple, tangy cranberry or sweet pear. What flavors could you recast in new recipes to help guests experience the season?