Skip to Content

Student menu: Tips for making the most of the lunch rush

Convenience is key when it comes to student menus! Cafeterias and restaurants near campuses have everything to gain by offering lunch options that can be prepared quickly and enjoyed on the go.

Chef Beall shares some tips for optimizing prep in the kitchen and tailoring your menu to the student clientele. According to Chef Beall, the secret is to favour recipes that require minimal manipulation, such as burgers, sandwiches, salads, and bowls. These dishes only require layering pre-portioned ingredients, making it easier to control food costs.

Chef Chris Beall


The same ingredients already used on your menu can be combined differently to prepare a variety of options. For example, the ingredients of a club sandwich can be used to make a salad. This is a clever strategy to offer your customers choice without overloading your team.

Sandwiches and burgers

Sandwiches and burgers are must-haves on any lunch menu1! Chicken options are consumer favourites according to recent foodservice trends2. Why not take this opportunity to add poultry to your cheeseburgers or to introduce a club sandwich to your lunch offering.

Ready-to-use formats help standardize portion sizes! Pre-sliced cheeses such as Cheddar, Swiss, Mozzarella, Provolone or Monterey Jack cheeses are all suitable for sandwiches and burgers. These cheese varieties are also among the most popular with consumers3.

Chef Chris Beall


Speed up your assembly time for sandwiches and burgers by preparing your sliced cheese in advance: peel off some slices and separate each one with a sheet of waxed paper. Are you using smaller buns? Try cutting the slices into triangles for a better fit.

Dishes perceived as healthier food

Nearly half of Gen Z consumers are willing to pay more for food they perceive as healthy4. Given this trend, it would be beneficial for restaurant owners to add a few options of salads and bowls with cheese, greens, vegetables, legumes or grains.

The possibilities are endless! This is the perfect opportunity to integrate flavours that young people love, such as international cuisine. This burrito bowl inspiration is particularly enticing. The colour and sharp nutty notes of the old yellow Cheddar cheese shred blend wonderfully with the spices—a quick addition that can make all the difference! This type of bowl was the most ordered take-out dish in Canada in 20205

In dishes such as this hearty grain salad with bocconcini and parmesan or this grilled chicken and quinoa bowl, mozzarella style fresh cheeses add an interesting textural contrast with a touch of freshness.

Soft Fresh Goat cheese, Feta cheese and blue cheese allow for options with unexpected flavours and textures. Available pre-crumbled, these cheeses can be easily integrated into sauces and dressings, like in this sour cream and Feta Caesar salad.

For a final touch with a rich, fruity taste appreciated by many consumers6, simply sprinkle your dish with shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese, like in this warm chicken salad inspiration.

Meatless options

Restaurant owners benefit from offering vegan lunch options, as they rank among the most popular dishes on the menu! Nearly 20% of consumers surveyed prefer plant-based dishes7 and more than 75% of Generation Z diners choose to go meatless at least once a week.

For a ton of ideas, check out our many vegetarian and vegan inspirations.

Snacks and bottled milks

These additions can be a simple trick to increase the average bill while remaining affordable for students!

81% of 12-25 year-olds surveyed said they prefer snacks that are both convenient and perceived as nutritious that they can easily eat on the go8. Our pre-portioned and individually wrapped cheese sticks are an ideal choice as a lunchtime snack.

It is also possible to swap out soft drinks or juice for bottled milk. The milk does not require refrigeration and can be enjoyed with any meal on-the-go!

Chef Chris Beall


How many options should a lunch menu contain? It's preferable to prioritize a limited menu with 10 to 15 options, allowing your team to be more efficient during peak periods:
- 3 to 5 salads, bowls or soups
- 3 to 5 sandwiches or burgers
- 4 to 5 featured items that rotate every few weeks

Looking for the perfect cheeses and ingredients to enhance your lunch menu? Contact your Saputo Foodservice representative. For countless other menu ideas and inspirations, subscribe to our À LA CARTE newsletter!

1 Crest, Foodservice Market Data, September 2021
The NPD Group, Top Food Items, September 2021
Technomic, Ignite Menu, Q3 2019 to Q3 2020
Technomic, Omnibus Consumer Survey, May 2020
DoorDash, Menu Trends in 2020, 2020
Technomic, Canadian Flavour Consumer Trend Report, 2021
Technomic, Ignite Menu, Q4 2020 to Q4 2021
Technomic, College & University Consumer Trend Report, 2019

Did you enjoy these tips? You'll find even more in our newsletter,


Fresh Baguette Sandwiches

Fresh Baguette Sandwiches

Caesar Bowl with Haloumi Croutons

Caesar Bowl with Haloumi Croutons

Provolone and Ricotta Brunch Pizza

Provolone and Ricotta Brunch Pizza


Gen Z trends: tailoring your menu for the new generation

Gen Z trends: tailoring your menu for the new generation

Did you know that Gen Z diners have different habits and preferences than millennials and older generations? Our experts recommend strategies for adapting your menu to the next generation of foodservice consumers.

Lunch staples: grab-and-go menu trends and lunch ideas

Lunch staples: grab-and-go menu trends and lunch ideas

Students and young professionals love dining out for lunch. Check out these tips from Chef Beall and our Consumer Market Insights team exploring creative lunch ideas and grab-and-go trends.

<span class=5 classic cheeses to rediscover">

5 classic cheeses to rediscover

Looking for new ways to experiment with classic, everyday cheeses? This article explores a whole new side to your kitchen staples!