Grabbing health to go

Portable foods get pumped up as snacking turns into a meal occasion.

salad shaker

The partitioned, compostable cups that hold breakfast yogurt parfaits sparked healthy grab-and-go ideas throughout the day at University of Texas at Austin. Assembled in-house, whole-grain Salad Shakers, launched in October, are sold at UT's retail outlets. Kitchen staff layers a rotating selection of cooked grains (farro, barley, ruby rice or five-grain rice blend), kalamata olives, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and torn basil in a similar container; a separate lid holds the housemade salad dressing. Building on that shaker’s popularity, UT introduced Edamame Shakers in January.

“Today’s students don’t make time for sound eating habits,” says Lindsay Wilson, registered dietitian at UT. “With healthier grab-and-go foods, they can eat between classes, while socializing, studying, etc.” 

Lunchtime is the busiest meal period for purchase of the heartier salad shakers ($3.99), with many students buying two and storing one in their dorm room’s mini fridge to snack on later, says Wilson. Students purchase the Edamame Shakers ($3.29)— filled with protein-rich edamame and topped with a partitioned lid holding seasonings such as kosher salt, Cajun spices or dried chilies—as more of a snack.

The original salad shaker was so popular that four now are in UT’s regular grab-n-go rotation; the edamame version was tested for a month and will roll out permanently in September. “We have to make sure the kitchen can handle it,” says Director of Food Service Rene Rodriguez. “Any time you add special containers and more prep, it adds extra production time.”

The B&I segment also has expanded grab-and-go snack options to meet customer demand for healthier anytime eating. “We provide snack boxes in our cafe and catering services that include housemade hummus and pita chips along with carrots, broccoli, tomato and cucumber.

Even more innovative offerings include housemade almond and sunflower seed butter,” says Amy Lucas, registered dietitian and wellness coordinator for Eurest at Chevron’s corporate locations in California, Texas and Louisiana. “I’m seeing people buying snack foods that I don’t think they would have considered buying five or 10 years ago.”

Guests also are interested in combining multiple snack selections into meals. “Eurest chefs have personally experienced what trend watchers have observed: Increasingly, more diners are eating four or five small meals each day rather than three,” says Mike Fiato, vice president of consumer experience for the contract feeder. “In B&I, we began seeing grazing with our millennial diners, but snack-size meals that can be eaten on the go also are becoming popular with Gen X and baby boomers.” 

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
oversized portions

Here are the trends FSD's Chefs’ Council members wish would go away.

Kale Gluten-free Sriracha Chipotle Microgreens on everything Sous vide cooking Aversion to bread Healthy desserts Vegan diets Lies about local sourcing/organic food Fast food Cupcakes Pumpkin spice Fat-free or low-fat Meatless Mondays Bread cones Rigid child nutrition guidelines Bacon on everything Cajun Doughnuts with over-the-top toppings Oversized portions Fried foods Pinterest
Ideas and Innovation
Frose

Frose, sushi burgers and single-item restaurants are hot topics as of late, according to Forbes, which recently released a list of seven buzzwords in the foodservice world. Here’s what’s trending, in no particular order.

Blended burgers Frozecco and frose Goth food Hemp Single-item restaurants Sushi burger Upcycling
Industry News & Opinion
MeuDirections

One of my favorite cartoons shows a commander whose soldiers are in the midst of fighting a war with bows and arrows. Without turning around, he tells a man who has come up behind him, “I’m sorry, I’m too busy to talk to you.” The man was a rifle salesman.

In today’s time-pressed world, we are all too busy. So, it can be difficult to find time to reach out to others for ideas, solutions and best practices. But as that cartoon illustrates, it’s critical to being successful. The sharing of knowledge is a pillar of FoodService Director . Through our magazine and events, we have been...

Ideas and Innovation
chefs

We started inviting chefs and FSDs from other districts to come prepare lunch. Through featuring different chefs and chef-inspired meals, I’ve found the students have been looking forward to coming into the cafeteria. They are willing to try new things with crazy names, and to ask for their favorite outside items turned healthy.

FSD Resources