2017 trend: Making more with less

ingredients sheet

Food costs overwhelmingly influence what goes on noncommercial menus, according to our survey. For 49% of respondents, the price of ingredients always impacts menu choices;
32% say it often is a factor. But Chefs’ Council members are skilled at controlling costs without diminishing perceived value. Here’s how they’ll deliver the biggest bang for the buck. 

Vegetable tart Provencal

vegetable tart

"Vegetable tart Provencal is a small piece of puff pastry with slices of zucchini, a few grape tomatoes and some caramelized onion. Even at our low price point of $4 we’re at well under 20% food cost, but the perceived value is very high because its ‘fancy’ factor is high. Plus, it gives the impression of being both healthy and indulgent.”

—Eric Eisenberg
Swedish Health Services

Pork shoulder

pork chili verde

“We cook whole pork shoulders to use in several applications. I am experimenting with braised pork chili verde, which can be shredded for taco filling or diced for a stew with rice and beans.”

—Eli Huff
Salt Food Group

Legumes

lentils bowl

“Legumes are great on the wallet, and we can introduce them into our menu in a variety of options with delicious success.”

—Cameron clegg
Parkhurst Dining

Grain bowls

thrive 360 avo farro bowl

“We’re buying less beef and adding grain bowls. They offer a personalized dish with interesting flavor profiles, and can fit the needs of vegan, halal and gluten-sensitive students.

—Bill Claypool
Vanderbilt University

Rice and beans

rice beans bowl

“Rice and beans have always delivered high flavor, protein, variety and value. Also good ol’ grilled cheese and tomato soup combos never fail to satisfy and sell.”

—Tracey MacRae
University of Washington

Beef tenderloin tail

beef tenderloin

“Beef tenderloin tail is as tender as a filet, since it comes from the same piece, but offers much better value.”

—Nicola Torres
The Garlands of Barrington

Build-your-own stations

moes ingredients line closeup

“More build-your-own stations for students. They get to pick exactly what they want so it reduces waste.”

—Callie Fowler
Union Public Schools

Reduced portion sizes

small portion filet mignon

“Reducing portion sizes on high-cost items.”

—Carrie Anderson
University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign

Roast chicken

roasted chicken

“The USDA commodity roast chicken is a lower-cost item that can be menued in multiple ways—jerk chicken, barbecue chicken, baked chicken, etc. Because it resembles chicken that students get at restaurants, they are more likely to participate on the days it is menued.”

—Kevin Frank
Detroit Public Schools

Beef brisket

beef brisket sliced

“Beef brisket. It’s simple and cost-effective, saving on labor and the food budget.”

—Gregory Gefroh
University of North Dakota

Sushi

sushi chopsticks hand

“Sushi. I think the market and margins have already been set, so our students are accustomed to the price range.”

—William Brizzolara
North Carolina State University

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
scratch card

Two days a week, we do scratch card purchases of $6 or more to get a free item on the next visit. Patients and staff look forward to the Monday and Friday scratch card days. It increases sales on slow days as well as guest satisfaction.

Ideas and Innovation
ramen noodles

The Arkansas Heart Hospital in Little Rock has unveiled a new, full-time food truck called Food from the Heart. It’s the first hospital-owned and operated food truck in the nation, according to KATV .

The truck, which will offer a limited menu that includes Chef Coby Smith ’s popular ramen, served its first meal on May 2 and will roll out service throughout the area beginning next month, the report said.

In addition, it will have pop-up locations, allowing the hospital to extend its reach to communities outside metro Little Rock. The truck can also be used in emergency...

Industry News & Opinion

In a bid to boost sustainability, Dartmouth Dining Services recently replaced its paper straws with red-and-white paper versions that are biodegradable, The Dartmouth reports .

The move is “a small step but a very important one,” Associate Director of Dining Services Don Reed told The Dartmouth.

While paper straws are slightly more expensive for the department than plastic ones, the difference is slight enough to justify, Reed says.

Not all students at the Hanover, N.H., school are on board with the change, however, and some are reportedly hoarding straws from...

Industry News & Opinion

After reaching a tentative deal with the district, Los Angeles Unified School District cafeteria staff will no longer strike for 24 hours on Tuesday, Los Angeles Daily News reports.

The workers, who belong to Service Employees International Union Local 99, will receive a 3% pay increase that is retroactive to July 1 of last year. Employees who did not receive a full pay raise in their previous contract will also be eligible for an extra 1% increase if they participate in additional training or work.

Additionally, workers will receive a 3% increase for the 2018-19 school...

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