10 food trends that will be popular with kids in 2023
Food management company Chartwells K12 has released its third annual list of the top food trends for kids in the coming year. The list was compiled by Chartwells K12 chefs and dietitians and is based on data from school districts throughout the country that Chartwells serves. Here’s a look at what students will be asking for on menus in 2023.
1. Global flavors
Global cuisines continue to be big with younger eaters, according to Chartwells. Authentic global dishes such as Albondigas con Arroz and Eggplant Caponata allow students to explore different parts of the world without leaving the cafeteria.
2. Spicy seasonings
Students are looking for spices that add bold heat to meals, says Chartwells K12. The company says it uses menu items like Sichuan-style Bang Bang Chicken and Nashville Hot Chicken to showcase different spices that add heat and also make a great swap for salt.
3. Food with a community connection
Allowing students to learn the story behind their food and where it comes from will continue to be popular over the next year. Operators can invite farmers to talk to students or get students involved in the food-growing process using school gardens to give them an inside look.
4. Eco-friendly eats
Menu items that taste good and help the earth are well-received by students. Along with offering more plant-based meals, dishes that utilize all the different parts of an ingredient can be a great way to reduce waste, Chartwells K12 says. Composting will also continue to be popular in school cafeterias as another way to go green.
5. Bold sauces
Bold, fresh and bright flavors in the form of sauces are going to be big with kids in the upcoming year, the company says. Accompaniments such as Balsamic Blueberry Salsa, Argentinian-style Chimichurri, Mojo Barbecue Sauce and Orange Ginger Vinaigrette can all add excitement to dishes.
6. Smoothies on the go
Smoothies continue to be a hit in the K-12 segment. Chartwells says that its Banana Apricot Smoothie, Mango Lassi Smoothie and Dragon Yogurt & Berry Smoothie bowl have all been popular with students.
7. Healthy sweets
Healthier desserts will be a popular way for kids to treat themselves in 2023. School operators can add a nutritious twist to the desserts and snacks lineup with options such as oat and sunflower butter energy bites or black bean brownies.
8. Plant power
Baja Bean Tacos, Orange Tofu Salad with Baby Spinach and Kale, and other plant-based items continue to be met positively by students. One in 3 students rated vegetarian or vegan options as extremely or very important when choosing lunch at school, a recent Chartwells K12 survey found.
9. Colorful produce
Fruits and vegetables in a wide variety of colors will continue to shine on K-12 menus this year. They also present an opportunity to teach students about how eating colorful produce affects their mood and immune system.
10. Signature sandwiches
Sandwiches are once again listed as a top trend for the upcoming year. K-12 operators can spice up their sandwich selection by serving options such as a Mexican Torta de Jamon with avocado and pickled jalapeno or a Vietnamese Pork Banh Mi on a baguette. Chartwells K12’s Asian Chicken & Vegetable Wrap with Napa cabbage, scallion, carrots and sesame vinaigrette has also been popular with students, the company says.