Rethink Your Menu

As outlets continue to diversify in light of the current crisis, there are a number of options that you could consider, so whether you are planning a takeaway service or taking a positive approach and looking at your offer prior to re-opening, rethinking and refreshing your menu is always good for your business. Here are Take Stock’s planning tips to a great new menu.

Understanding changing habits

The way that people are enjoying food is changing because of the lockdown. The number of meals being eaten at home has grown by more than 38%, according to Kantar Worldpanel, and this could create opportunities for out of home menu development in both the short and longer terms.

Keep it simple and perhaps offer a reduced menu – thinking about the fact that there may be availability issues with some products. One area that deserves careful consideration is breakfast. With no morning rush to contend with, people are spending more time preparing and eating better breakfasts.

Outlets could find it profitable to think about developing a breakfast menu, extend their current offer or create brunch-style dishes to take away while we are still in lockdown or as a great opportunity when doors open again. Consider trialling a number of new dishes for a weekend to gage interest or on a special event like the VE Day celebrations (8 May) or Father’s Day (21 June).

Food for comfort

During uncertain times, customers are less likely to experiment with meal choices and will be looking for old favourites. Good traditional roasts, burger, curry or fish and chips all make for comforting, popular dishes that also adapt well as a takeaway option. “Our famous battered fish and chip meal with mushy peas that we offer everyFriday is proving very popular, and so are our pre-cooked Sunday roast dinners,” says Julia Duffy, manager at Whalley Golf Club in Lancashire. “Not that I over-charge – this isn’t about making a profit but helping the community and members. The reaction and support from them has been overwhelming, and some are even asking me to carry on the takeaway service when we’re open again!”

Satisfying sides

Home snacking has risen as consumers look for ‘pick me up’ moments to make them feel better during the lockdown. Adding tempting treats to your menu will increase average order sizes and keep customers happy. Sides and snacks help bring a point of difference to delivery menus, especially on trend dishes such as Mac ‘n’ Cheese Triangles, Hash BrownBites and Habanero Cheese Nuggets. You can add sweet snacks too. “When it comes to your food takeaway menu important factors to consider are offering dishes that can withstand delivery, provide consistent quality every time and importantly can be easy and quick to cook in rush hour,” advises Mohammed Essa, commercial director, Aviko UK & Ireland.

Box up a BBQ

Tap into the demand for BBQ food which will grow as the weather improves. According to National BBQ Week (25-31 May) barbecuing eating is a top home leisure activity. The overall at-home alfresco eating/BBQ market was worth just over £7.6 billion in 2018. Adding some BBQ dishes to your menu also lets your customers enjoy the taste without the fuss.

Take inspiration from street and American-style BBQ dishes including Korean and Filipino specialities such as Bulgogi (barbecued beef) and Pinoy style pork barbecue. Include firm favourites burgers and hot dogs – already a popular takeaway option – however, add some of your own style too. Check out the luxury burger recipe topped with bacon, avocado and blue cheese butter. Remember to tell customers how you plan to cook the burger to check that is OK with them. Spice up your hot dog offering with a range of tasty toppings and condiments (see recipe on page XXX) or for a twist on the traditional why not try a mustard bagel dog – a hot dog wrapped in pizza dough!Visit the recipe.

Standout vegetarian dishes

According to Mintel, sales of meat-free foods have grown 40% to an estimated £816 million in 2019, and the proportion of meat eaters who have reduced or limited the amount of meat they consume has risen from 28% in 2017 to 39% in 2019. Make sure your new menu has some irresistible vegetarian and vegan dishes. A grilled field mushroom and stilton ‘burger’ is a dish with a real bite – and if you buy slices rather than a whole Stilton you will cut back on waste. Cheese served hot – such as feta, halloumi and mozzarella – is growing in demand, according to Eurilait, specialists in continental dairy produce. This is a great vegetarian option and grilled or baked cheese steaks and camembert make great gooey takeaways.

Buying British

When surveyed, 60% of shoppers say they try to buy British food whenever they can, 45% think that British food tastes better and 76% believe it’s important to support British farmers.* They want to enjoy the food on their plate, however, they also want to know where it’s come from – its story, from sustainability and health aspects to animal welfare. So, make provenance a selling point on your menu by buying local and promoting this on your menu, website and social media.

AHDB Beef and Lamb has launched a campaign to promote the sales of steak. It has identified a need to support better use of the whole animal during these difficult times and is trying to shift purchase behaviour from beef mince towards hind quarter steaks. You can join in the campaign #makeitsteak#steaknight – it’s a great menu option for you to promote on social media and get your customers to join in too.




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