What's cooking for breakfast on the go?

bowl breakfast granola fruit

As the adage says, breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but most diners only have a few minutes to dedicate to it before making a mad dash. Crafting intriguing new portable options could be just the thing to entice them. Here are four ways operators are thinking outside the breakfast burrito when it comes to handheld options.

1. Bowls

oatmeal ingredients toppings

To offer employees of New Balance healthier options to start their workday at the athletic company’s Brighton, Mass.-based headquarters, Unidine General Manager Kathy Guild launched the Build A Better Breakfast program in January. One component is a make-your-own breakfast bowl bar stocked with various bases (Greek yogurt, quinoa, wheat germ, oats, granola) and toppings (nuts and seeds, fruit, coconut, flax). “In a nutshell, it’s a yogurt parfait in a cup that’s been elevated to the next level,” Guild says. Response has been positive. “[Diners] eat with their eyes; they like to pick and choose and make their own bowl,” she says. “You put the cover on, it’s pay by weight, you go back to your desk.”

2. Crepes

usc spinach crepe

At University of Southern California in Los Angeles, students can order sweet or savory crepes made to order and served street food-style in a cardboard sleeve. “[Chefs] have a unique way of folding it and putting it together so it’s easy to eat on the go,” says Kris Klinger, assistant vice president of retail operations for USC Hospitality, which includes residential student dining, among other campus units. Nutella and banana, berries and cream cheese or sausage and spinach are just a few filling options.

3. Bites

no-bake energy bites

At a coffee counter, New Balance customers were craving healthier options beyond pastries. “Bread is evil these days. [Diners are] looking for low-carb and less carb,” Guild says. “Because we don’t have a grill, we had to think, ‘What can we do that’s healthy that can go in the morning or the afternoon?’” The answer is a line of nut- and fruit-based morsels called power balls and energy bites. The New Balance Power Ball is made with dates, raw almonds, Belgian chocolate nibs, honey and flaxseed; the Peanut Butter Energy Bite features oatmeal, peanut butter and shredded coconut. “It’s a 1-ounce bite, a little bigger than a golf ball. They’re simple and they’re easy; [diners] know exactly what’s in them,” Guild says, adding that more than 1,400 bites had sold since their debut in October.

4. Sandwiches 2.0

waffle sandwich usc

At USC, waffle sandwiches are offered alongside more traditional breakfast sandwiches. Fillings range from eggs and bacon to fried chicken, inspired by the Southern brunch classic of chicken and waffles. Though newer options have interested students, Klinger says the trusty breakfast burrito continues to lead sales.

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