Placing Calorie Counts on Restaurant Menus Changes the Way Customers Order
Creating a More Health Conscious Customer
According to a new release by Fox Business News, placing calorie counts on your restaurant menu actually changes the way that your customers order. It looks like they’re ordering healthier options and reducing their caloric intake — which was the intention of the regulation issued by the FDA stating that fast-food chain restaurants, as well as sit-down restaurants with more than 20 locations ( as well as other eateries), must place calorie information next to their menu items on their restaurant menus and menu boards.
While this is well and good for public health what does this mean for you, the restauranteur? If your diners are ordering healthier options, do you have enough calorie-friendly fare to offer them? If you’ve been reading our articles lately, you’ll quickly see that the cottage cheese and fruit plate isn’t going to cut it. Consumers are demanding more nutrition information than ever and they don’t stop there, they’re looking for variety and foods that serve a purpose to actively improve their health.
What is the Restaurant Owner’s Responsibility to the Customer?
So what is a restaurant owner do? How do you offer options for these calorie-conscious consumers and how do you get on board with this growing trend of functional foods? What if you’re a restaurant with under 20 locations, does this still apply?
In short, the trends apply to all who participate in this delicious industry. And there is plenty to be done to appeal to your calorie-conscious customer while offering them everything in the healthier options they’re looking for: variety, flavor, and functionality. This winning trifecta will ensure you aren’t only on-trend, but ahead of it.
Overwhelmed? Don’t be. We got you covered. Lucky you, we’ll cover a few options here and also get you in touch with a dietitian that handles this type of thing. Let’s begin.
Functional Flavor Through Healthier Fats
Chances are, if you’re even a little successful, you’ve mastered the ability to infuse flavor into your dishes. Flavor components come primarily from fat sources, sugar, and salt. And the winning combination is all 3 playings a role in a single dish to hit every part of the palate.
When it comes to making the food choices on your restaurant menu have fewer calories while maintaining that flavor profile, you have to get functional.
Butter, for one, has been hailed as the go-to item for flavor-boosting. But there are a plethora of other fats that are not saturated and artery-clogging that can still lend a delicious flavor to your menu items. Consider, for example, exchanging the butter in the base of your pan for garlic-infused olive oil.
Olive oil, a monounsaturated fatty acid, contributes to heart health while garlic is known for it’s antioxidant properties. And in the words of Emeril — BAM! You just got functional. Essentially, what these consumers are looking for are foods that improve the state of their health. This way, they aren’t just eating out, they’re progressing.
At this point, I’m sure you’re wondering at this point about the “fewer calories” part of revising your restaurant menu. Swapping fat for better fat and getting functional is one thing, but what about the calorie count part of menu labeling? Keep reading.
Creating Smart Portions by Increasing Fiber
Whole Grains, another functional food, offer not only flavor but fiber to a menu item recipe. When you use a functional food like whole-grain pasta, customers often get fuller with smaller portions. Why is that?
In refined flour-based products, the hull or the outer coating of the wheat gets removed. This outer shell contributes the most nutrition and fiber. Fiber, once consumed, expands within the stomach and digestive system. This contributes to a feeling of satiety or fullness much faster than its refined counterpart. And it’s more flavorful to boot. The outer hull of whole grains are nutritious, fibrous, and lend a nutty sweetness to any dish. With a quick swap like this, your customer gets functionality, a reduced number of calories, and more flavor.
Adding Variety by Collaborating with a Registered Dietitian
This can be the trickiest part of the re-calibration of your restaurant menu, but it doesn’t have to be. If you review your current menu items, chances are, you can begin to swap out individual ingredients for healthier options and create an entirely new category for the customer who is considering calorie counts.
But in the case this becomes confusing or you just don’t have time to do the research, this is where a Registered Dietitian can come in handy. A dietitian is well-versed in all things nutrition while your chef is trained on everything culinary. With this winning combo, there are no such things as too many cooks in the kitchen. Matter of fact, many restaurants are opting to hire an in-house dietitian in order to address customer concerns, offer nutrition information and help with the changes on their restaurant menus that lower-calorie counts while maintaining flavor and functionality.
If a staff R.D. can’t fit into your budget, we may have an option that’s just as appealing. At MenuCalc, we offer the combination of menu-labeling software with the option of utilizing our in-house dietitian. We offer this option so you can collaborate on menu item changes, remain on trend, and reduce the total calories in your food items, Now, your restaurant menu’s nutritional information stays up to date without breaking your budget.
If you’re looking to offer your calorie conscious consumer the winning trifecta of fewer calories, functionality and variety, we’ve got the software and dietitian services you may have not known you needed. Contact us today.