Have you taken the time to find out which items on your menu are selling and which ones are costing you money? Are your customers getting tired of seeing the same “Soup of the Day” listed on your special’s menu? One piece of advice – it’s not the soup of the day if it’s the same soup every day. At that point, it’s just a standing dish on your menu. Nothing special about it.
Recipe fatigue is real. Like, really real. Your chef hates cooking the same basic chicken day after day and your customers have an appetite for fresh new flavors. In fact, they are impatiently waiting for you to take them on a trip to flavor town by introducing new recipes. In Technomic’s most recent Novel Menu Trends report, 42% of consumers are more likely to try a new or unique flavor from a restaurant than when cooking at home. Now’s your time to shine!
Your decreased profits could be the result of recipe fatigue. Technomic also reports that 28% of consumers are more open to experimentation since the pandemic started. That means, there’s no better time to jump at the opportunity to freshen up your menu with new recipes.
Yes, change is scary – especially in a time where you’re limited on the ingredients you are getting in and are faced with an unpredictable supply chain. But do you know what’s scarier? Missing out on profits because you were too afraid to take the leap into plant-based dishes or hesitant to experiment with global flavors and trending foods.
Here are three ways you can enhance your menu, and your profits, by utilizing trending foods:
1. Get Creative with Ingredient Mashups
No more basic desserts or dinner entrees. How about combining ingredients from different dayparts to create signature menu items customers can’t get anywhere else? Some of the best meals come from creative mashups such as the sushi burrito or the donut breakfast sandwich. Why not create a unique twist on breakfast with a breakfast ramen topped with a sunny side up egg or a pizza pie laid out on a layer of garlic bread instead of your typical pie crust?
Don’t forget about creative ways to extend your SKU’s as well! Left over coffee beans from breakfast? Grind them up and use them in a rub for your pork. Left over peppers from your signature sauce? Make a salsa of the day or a topping for the basic chicken we mentioned earlier. Mashups are a great way to bring something new to the table while ensuring zero food waste.
2. Get on Board with Protein Substitutions
If we’ve learned anything this last year, it’s that meat prices have skyrocketed and sometimes a substitution is necessary. Chicken breast prices going up? Swap it out for chicken thighs. Chicken thighs pack more flavor and tenderness. Beef costs breaking the bank? Pork is a great back-up. Don’t be afraid to play around with new proteins, you might be surprised how much your customers like the change and how much your profits start to change – for the better.
Also, it’s no longer all about beef, chicken, or seafood. Plant-based protein substitutions continue to make head way on menus and don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. Experiment with affordable and flavorful cost savers such as Yuba, plant-based seafood, or even vegetables.
And don’t forget, you don’t have to stick with just one method of cooking for your proteins and veggies. According to Technomic, 66% of consumers rate prep styles, such as grilled, roasted, braised, as an appealing method of imparting flavor. It’s okay to experiment with your cooking methods—branch out of your comfort zone!
3. Pack a Punch with Global Flavors
2022 is the year of welcoming new flavors and spices aside from the always basic salt and pepper. According to Technomic, 27% of consumers are eating more unique types of global foods and beverages now than they did two years ago. They also predicted upcoming global flavor spotlights to be Mesoamerica, Western Africa, and Western Asia. Our mouths are watering already.
Although spices aren’t the only way to pump up the flavor. Peppers can also make a huge difference in the powerful impact a meal can have on a patrons’ taste buds. Peppers such as friggitelli peppers, piparra peppers, cruschi peppers, and kashmiri chiles are also making their way onto restaurant menus.
Moral of the story is – basic is out and seasoning is in. It’s the time of change and you can’t be scared to experiment with these trending foods.