To counter the dramatic rise in at-home dining (and corresponding restrictions on onsite dining in many states) this year, foodservice operators—commercial and noncommercial alike—have been offering meal kits, in addition to traditional, fully prepared foods and meals, to drive sales. This trend has taken off: Ignite menu data reveals that meal kits have been the top off-premises offering added to menus this year.
An alternative to fully prepared takeout meals, meal kits offer varying degrees of interactivity, which can be especially important for families, couples or people who simply enjoy cooking. Whether it’s just heating up the different components or a bit more involved—think cooking pasta, putting together a side dish, building a salad or something else—meal kits give diners a unique way to enjoy a meal.
How can foodservice operators customize their meal kits to make the experience special and memorable? Here are a few ideas.
Familiar favorites with a twist
Technomic’s August 2020 Off-Premise COVID-19 Menus: Food & Beverage report found that about a third (34%) of 18- to 34-year-olds are likely to purchase family meal bundles, including meal kits. Family meal kits may be especially popular among busy families, who want to get lunch and dinner on the table quickly with little fuss.
By making meal kits that feature comfort foods—such as sliders, fried chicken, pasta dishes and pizza—operators set themselves up for success, as consumers have been turning to these familiar favorites more often in 2020. But it’s important to update these foods to add interest and appeal.
For instance, some large chains are making meal kits around popular existing menu items, such as burgers, chicken sandwiches, lasagna and more, but are adding elements such as a signature sauce, trending condiment or innovative topping. Then, operators simply pair the entree with diners’ choice of side(s) and an appetizer or dessert for a diverse meal kit that satisfies any craving. Offering crowd-pleasing dishes with a twist as part of a meal kit is an easy way to satisfy consumer demand for quick, convenient family meals. By elevating and updating the flavors of classic dishes consumers love—especially in the form of adding beloved hot sauces—operators can appeal to diners with adventurous palates or those who love spicy foods.
Add on-trend ingredients, including holiday flavors
As the holiday season approaches and families spend more time together, meal kits may be especially popular, as they allow people to spend more quality time catching up and less time in the kitchen. Operators can encourage consumers to order meal kits by including menu options that feature seasonal flavors. For example, try offering a meal kit that comes with a fall- or winter-inspired salad, with toppings including pomegranate, candied pecans, goat cheese and roasted butternut squash, with a spicy, bold vinaigrette to enhance all the flavors.
Looking for more holiday-inspired dishes to add to your meal kits? TABASCO® Brand offers an array of “Holiday Comfort” recipes across all menu categories. Consider, for example, Rotisserie Porchetta, made with TABASCO® Brand Original Red Sauce; Yellow Pepper Gazpacho, made with TABASCO® Brand Green Jalapeño Pepper Sauce; or Sweet and Smoky Cannoli, made with TABASCO® Brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce.
Emphasize customization with condiments
Finally, adding condiments to meal kits reassures customers that the food they receive can taste exactly how they like it. TABASCO® Brand prepackaged solutions—including TABASCO® Mini Bottles, TABASCO® PC Packets and even 2-ounce bottles that custom ers can keep after their meals are served—allow diners to add both flavor and heat to their meals without having to deplete their own stash of hot sauce. Operators should bear in mind that these inclusions require little additional labor, delight customers and can enhance the appeal and enjoyment of any meal.
Learn more about how to customize your meal kits with TABASCO® Brand recipes and solutions at TABASCOfoodservice.com/.
This post is sponsored by TABASCO® Brand