Now that calorie labeling has come into effect, many restaurants are looking for ways to make their menu items healthier. Whether it’s because certain meals may not be selling as well as they did before people knew how many calories they contained or because restaurants are simply trying to keep up with the demand for increasingly healthy meals, providing healthier menu items can be a great marketing tool to help your establishment stand out among the competition.
If your restaurant is looking to tweak or even entirely revamp the menu to make it more nutritious, the prospect may seem overwhelming. Many people simply don’t know where to begin when it comes to cutting calories and introducing more nutrient-dense foods into a menu. That’s why I recommend using menu evaluation services to make your restaurant healthier.
Using Menu Evaluation Services
We all know on some level that restaurant food doesn’t tend to be the healthiest, but sometimes you have to see the analysis results to believe it. In fact, many restaurant owners who had never nutritionally analyzed their recipes before the menu labeling law came into effect were surprised to learn the values of their dishes. Whether dishes are high in calories, sodium, fat, or sugar, many chefs and restaurateurs feel they need to change up their recipes and design healthier menus.
The trouble is, if you aren’t familiar with nutrition analysis and food science, it can be tricky to know how exactly to move the needle on the various nutritional values to successfully reduce sodium, fat, or calories while still maintaining the flavor and integrity of the restaurant’s dishes and cooking style.
Luckily, this is essentially what menu evaluation services provide. Companies like MenuCalc, for instance, have a team of expert dietitian consultants offering menu evaluation services. They work with restaurants, study their menus and recipes, and make suggestions for ways to modify recipes in order to make them healthier. Some of the ways they do this include:
- Recommend simple ingredient swaps that reduce the salt, sugar, fat, and calorie content of your menu items.
- Compare your nutritional analysis results to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans or menus of competing establishments.
- Help you apply nutrient content claims (like low-fat or low-sodium) to your menu.
- Determine which health claims (i.e. gluten-free) your menu items qualify for or help you create dishes that do qualify for such claims so you can advertise them on your menu.
- Suggest ways to incorporate new products (i.e. organic produce or grass-fed beef).
- Help you create an allergen-friendly menu or menu items.
As you can likely tell, working with a consultant who offers menu evaluation services can be incredibly beneficial for your restaurant and its customers. Just be sure to look for an expert consultant who has years of experience working in the restaurant and food industry so you can rest assured that they are familiar with current, past, and future trends in the field.
The Benefits of Making Your Menu Healthier
Perhaps you are interested in making your menu healthier but aren’t quite sure that the benefits will outweigh the costs associated with menu evaluation services. In most cases, it is easy to make back the money you would spend working with a consultant.
First, your customer base may grow as you appeal to the growing number of health-conscious diners. We know, after all, that people are becoming increasingly concerned about what food they put in their bodies and where it comes from. Secondly, you may be surprised that food costs can be cut as a result of using menu evaluation services. This may be the result of creating smaller portions or swapping out certain ingredients (like sugary sodas used in cocktail mixes for tonic water). Finally, having a healthier menu may encourage you and your restaurant staff to eat healthier food, resulting in improved well-being, increased energy, and maybe even fewer sick days.
Whether you support these trends or not, healthy eating is here to stay. As the public becomes more and more educated about the consequences of eating a diet high in calories, sodium, sugar, and saturated fat, the demand for nutritious food will only increase. That’s why it’s a good idea to get ahead of the industry by making your menu healthier. With the right support from expert menu consultants, the process will be a breeze and everyone will be better for it.
MenuCalc offers online nutrition analysis software and menu evaluation services that work with restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores of all sizes to help make their menus healthier. To hear more about our expert menu consultants, contact us today.