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.
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.
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.
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.
Cheese also enhances the presentation of salads and bowls by providing a contrast in colour and texture!
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.
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!
How many options should a lunch menu contain? Prioritize a limited menu with 10 to 15 options. It is also preferable to offer only hot or cold meals rather than both, allowing your team to be more efficient during peak periods.
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
2 The NPD Group, Top Food Items, September 2021
3 Technomic, Ignite Menu, Q3 2019 to Q3 2020
4 Technomic, Omnibus Consumer Survey, May 2020
5 DoorDash, Menu Trends in 2020, 2020
6 Technomic, Canadian Flavour Consumer Trend Report, 2021
7 Technomic, Ignite Menu, Q4 2020 to Q4 2021
8 Technomic, College & University Consumer Trend Report, 2019