Cooking breakfast from scratch

For schools, this proves challenging.

Demand for freshness is spurring foodservices of all types to consider more scratch cooking in the morning, but school cafeterias are finding that quest tougher to pursue when they start serving breakfast in the classroom.

In part, “it’s a volume thing,” explains Dan Witt, supervisor of food services for Pueblo County (Colo.) School District 70. He’s already seen his breakfast volume increase five-fold, to 300 morning meals, since he implemented classroom service. With that big of a jump in a small time period, Witt says it’s hard to keep up with demand and cook items from scratch.

Add in the need for portability and variety, and scratch cooking suddenly becomes much more difficult, especially with the labor costs involved.

“I always look for ways I can do scratch cooking, but it’s not always feasible,” says Witt.

So, he says, his district prepares a breakfast burrito from scratch but buys packaged items such as waffles and mini pancakes. For complex dishes like biscuits and gravy, “it’s pretty much half and half,” he says; the gravy is rehydrated from a powder, but other elements are cooked from scratch.

“If there’s something I can do from scratch, I will,” he adds.

Using prepared items is a little easier for Witt because he finds more high-quality and healthful options are available today from suppliers. “They’re moving in the right direction,” he comments.

Still, some customers want to see their breakfasts made right then from scratch, even if they can get the same thing in a prepackaged form, says Melodie Strickland, cafeteria manager for the World Dining-managed foodservice of the Honeywell plant in Rocky Mount, S.C. “[Customers] tell us, ‘I want my eggs scrambled for me. I don’t want to have them already put together,’” she explains. “It’s the same thing, but they want it made fresh.”

That’s a challenge when breakfast service extends to breaks and a new wave of employees floods the cafeteria every 10 minutes to grab something and get back to work within a short time frame. Strickland tries to meet that demand without waste by cooking eggs every five minutes for grab-and-go sandwiches. 

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
construction plans drawing tools calculator

When revamping an old cafeteria or building a new retail spot, the design process can feel like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle: What needs to fit in the space, and what’s the most efficient flow for staffers, cooks, diners and more?

Cathy Estes, administrative director of nutrition services at four northern Indiana hospitals that are part of the Franciscan Health network, faced the creation of a new in-house dining program at Franciscan’s Munster hospital. Amid all the big plans, design was one of the largest undertakings.

“I was looking at 5,000 square feet on a...

Ideas and Innovation
amazon prime delivery

About 90% of our students receive financial assistance and participate in our free and reduced-price meal program. But a number of students in our district study remotely due to circumstances such as chronic illness. In January, we hired a driver to deliver meals to students who aren’t able to step into our cafeteria each day.

Ideas and Innovation
wheaton emerson int salad bar

Restaurant design is all about catching a customer’s eye —and it’s sometimes particularly beneficial to be far-sighted. As Airbnb has proven with its San Francisco headquarters, where cafe spaces are inspired by cities like Cairo and Mumbai, elaborate design schemes that evoke far-flung geographic regions can be done to great effect. But operators are finding simpler ways to achieve that feel.

That’s been the experience of Kutztown University Dining Services in Pennsylvania. Kent Dahlquist, director of housing and dining services, says that when the university decided several years...

Managing Your Business
overtime payroll timesheet

Just eight days before Dec. 1, when operators would have to comply with the U.S. Department of Labor’s new overtime rules, a federal judge in Texas slapped an injunction on the regulation. The move indefinitely halted the rules that would have doubled the overtime threshold to $47,476, affecting nearly 4.2 million workers, according to the DOL. For some operators, the move was too little, too late. Now, they have to answer to employees who had been briefed on promised wage increases.

Kansas Memorial Union at the University of Kansas in Lawrence made changes ahead of the deadline...

FSD Resources