Couldn’t we all use a little comfort right now? Research has confirmed that Americans have turned to comfort foods more regularly since the start of the pandemic. As the holidays and colder weather approach, look to add items to your menu that customers will crave for comfort on a night in. And your comfort foods don’t have to be unhealthy. Maybe you can experiment with global spices and sauces to create a new twist on an appetizer – or invent a new dish by combining two of the popular items on your menu.
Fall vegetables aren’t only healthy additions to your menu: Their density and texture make them filling substitutes for everything from pasta to meat. Offer spaghetti squash as a low-carb pasta alternative this season or butternut squash to add meaty consistency to a vegetarian chili. Capitalize on pumpkin spice mania by adding pumpkin to pancakes and granola at breakfast or to hummus and curry dishes later in the day.
Focusing on food and restaurant trends may seem like a relic of the old days – as in early 2020 – but even amid the restaurant industry’s current challenges, food trends persist. According to Datassential’s recent research, “The Seven Lessons of a Pandemic,” many of the food trends that were on the rise pre-COVID continue to draw support from consumers. And while comfort foods have enjoyed some added attention during lockdown, the top trends persisting post-COVID have a strong health profile. Simple ingredients, plant-based foods, smoothie bowls, and functional foods and beverages all ranked highly. As you adapt your menus to a fluctuating food supply and uncertain business environment, highlighting the options that can protect health may help you stabilize sales.