Can you believe that 2021 is coming to a close? It seems like just yesterday that we were relieved to see 2020 end doesn’t it? Yet, here we are entering 2022 in just a few more days. If you are amongst those celebrating in the United States, you know what’s coming up next — our tried and true tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. That’s right, it’s that time of year where we all resolve to give extra attention to our overall well-being, lose the holiday weight or embark on another journey that most likely involves our health in some way.
While these are all noble goals, what does this mean for restaurants? This is an article about menus isn’t it? Sure is. If you’re a restaurant operator, manager, or what have you, you know that you are impacted by more than just your own personal resolutions, your customer’s resolutions come into play too! Come January 1st, everyone will be 10x more conscious about their meal choices than they were just a day before. That being said, is your menu ready? If not, here’s a few ideas that can make you a popular choice amongst those who are making a resolution about improving their health and/or eating habits this year.
Suggestion #1: Explore Plant-Based Options in Restaurant Menus
In the past year, no trend was more prevalent than plant-based. But why? Almost as a knee-jerk reaction in response to COVID, everyone took to Google to find what experts had been saying regarding what could be done to improve the immune system and safeguard our health in general. And almost coincidentally we were bombarded by plant-based content, articles, documentaries and white-papers that began to tell a story about how our current volume of meat consumption has been impacting our health as a society in a negative way for decades now.
Consumers from around the planet began to pick up and carry the baton for the plant-based movement, whether it was for the improvement of the environment, weight loss or disease improvement, the momentum built by the plant-based movement has become prevalent enough to impact how customers dine out. For this reason, we felt it pertinent to add to our list for 2022 restaurant menu trends.
If you’ve never experimented with plant-based before, try taking some of your customer favorites and “veganize it”. “Veganize” is a plant-based term gaining a ton of popularity and it refers to a meal or a dish that would be normally made with animal products, but with a few quick swaps, it can be made into a vegan dish.
This practice has been a popular one amongst independent restaurants who have already established a customer base who have favorites.
For example, if your home-made baked Mostacolli is a hot seller on your menu, try swapping out animal-based products (like cheese, ground sausage, butter, etc.) Instead, try plant-based substitutes like Miyokos cheese, Impossible Sausages, and other plant-based best-sellers.
Suggestion #2: Categorize Your Menu
As you very well know, each and every one of your dining guests are unique. They all come to the table (literally) with different tastes, desires, and expectations. And though we’re all unique, every single one of us begins in the same place: the menu.
We surveyed hundreds of participants during the last year in research for our new dish discovery platform and we discovered that the average time it takes for a person to read a menu and make a selection is 11 minutes.
Now take that same 11 minutes and double or triple it if you’re going out to eat with a few friends or family members. Making a selection at a restaurant can be laborious.
A way to combat that is to make your restaurant menu easier to read and decipher for your customers. But what does that mean? Well, if 95% of your restaurant menu is text, then the best thing you can do is organize it in a way that is appealing to all who read it.
Now this may seem like a no-brainer, however, we’ve evolved so far past your simple headings of “breakfast, lunch, and dinner” and we’ve moved to more specific categories that reflect the trends of our unique tastes! But how do you know where to start?
Well if you are a trendy-spot who offers cuisine for the latest consumer demands, a great way to go could be dietary preference (we like to be fancy and call them lifestyle preferences). This can include things like “plant-based” as mentioned above, or “keto”, “pescatarian”, “vegan”, and everyone loves a “build your own”. The more customizable your menu is, the more appealing that it becomes.
Suggestion #3: Nutritional Transparency
While the categorization and recognition of trends on your menu caters to your customer’s taste-buds, nothing says “I understand you” more to a customer than nutritional transparency. This simply means adjusting your restaurant menus to display accurate nutritional information about your menu items.
Matter-of-fact, simply identifying the presence of allergens in their restaurant menu resulted in a 39% jump in traffic for the Indigo Restaurant within the Adwich Hotel in the UK. These types of accommodations can only be made possible by having a nutrition professional perform a restaurant menu nutrition analysis or by using a platform like, well, MenuCalc. Our restaurant-industry experienced nutritionists work closely with restaurants to provide the appropriate nutrient reporting for each dish offering on a restaurant’s menu, down to the beverages.
While many restaurants opt to outsource this nutrition analysis, it can be done in-house. Simply enter your recipe name into the MenuCalc platform. Then, identify the ingredients and quantities of each ingredient, as well as any other important notes. Then MenuCalc’s nutrition calculator + nutrient database instantly calculates the nutrition information for your menu recipe and assigns it to your recipe.
These nutrition reports include but are not limited to:
- Total Fat
- Saturated Fat
- Dietary Fiber
- Vitamins and Minerals
- And most importantly…. allergens.
We flag each individual ingredient entered into our platform for the presence of the Top 8 Allergens. Then, all of this information becomes easy to access and share directly to your menu website. It really is that simple. So if you’re wanting to appeal to your customer base using your very own restaurant menu, you know where to go!
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To learn more about how MenuCalc works, check out our tutorials here.