Among trends in the food industry such as international cuisines and plant-based options, one category of menu items remains unchanged. Comfort foods, beloved for their nostalgia-inducing tastes and often indulgent ingredients, will always have their place on foodservice menus. Operators will always have a handful of options—from pizza to macaroni and cheese, casseroles, soups and more—that they can call on when they need a sure winner.
For healthcare operators, offering comfort foods is a great way to signal to residents that they care. Residents will recognize that their favorite foods are on the menu, which can boost their morale as well as their satisfaction with the options they are offered.
Some tips for menuing comfort foods include the following ideas.
‘Build your own’ meals
Customizable meals are a favorite among many residents. It can be fun to choose what they top their pizza, soup or salad with, or what they mix into macaroni and cheese or a burrito bowl, but it also ensures they like every part of the meal. Pre-topped pizzas, for instance, could include mushrooms that they don’t like, and pre-tossed salads could include cheese or bacon, which don’t mesh well with people following stricter plant-based diets. By offering build-your-own meals on the menu, operators can ensure every diner has a meal choice they’ll love.
Keep it simple
Operators need not overthink what kinds of comfort foods to offer. The basics—macaroni and cheese, tomato soup, chicken noodle soup, chicken tenders, spaghetti and meatballs, just to name a few—are all easy to prepare and come together in just a few minutes. What’s more, they’re sure winners: About 1 in 5 consumers say they prefer sticking to their favorite foods or flavors and rarely try new ones. For these diners—as well as more adventurous diners who just want something they know they’ll love—comfort food is king.
Innovate on the classics
While comfort foods are fairly straightforward, one way operators can keep residents engaged and interested in the menu is by offering updates on classics. For instance, serving white cheddar macaroni and cheese instead of traditional macaroni and cheese, or offering a globally influenced soup. Soup is a comfort food for many consumers, but that doesn’t mean they want to eat the same kind of soup every time they crave it. Try offering spicy options for heat-seekers, or offer interesting toppings such as roasted chickpeas, chutneys, fresh chopped herbs and more to keep soup interesting.
Operators can also offer more traditional iterations of classic favorites. For example, a roasted vegetable lasagna can take the place of classic lasagna, which is typically made with a meat-based sauce.
By offering foods that are familiar yet different, operators can keep the menu interesting while offering residents foods they love.
Learn more about adding comfort foods to the menu at campbellsfoodservice.com.
This post is sponsored by Campbell's Foodservice