Capitalize on customization with bowl meals

Photograph: Shutterstock

Bowl meals aren’t exactly a new menu trend; restaurants such as Chipotle have been offering them for some time. But in noncommercial foodservice, they present an interesting opportunity. By allowing meals to be truly customizable, operators can capitalize on diners’ preferences for personalized meals and still accommodate those who are following specialized diets.

Bowl meals, typically offered with a base of grains, noodles or salad, can be prepared specific to each diner’s exact needs—whether they don’t eat meat, they need something that’s gluten-free or they just don’t like broccoli.

Check out these inspired ways to add grain- or pasta-based bowls to the menu.

Get creative with the base

When people think of grain bowls, they might think of rice or quinoa, two popular options often served as the base for bowl meals. But there are more options than just one or the other. For a nutrition boost, try using a base that blends more than one grain or pasta with vegetables or legumes. Simplot Good Grains Multi-Grain Orzo, Red Quinoa and Vegetable Blend, for example, features mixed-grain orzo pasta made from whole wheat, amaranth, quinoa and teff flours, as well as red and brown rices, quinoa, lentils and vegetables. By diversifying the bases available for a bowl meal, consumers have the option to choose something simple—or something that’s complex, satisfying and unexpected.

Focus on plant-forward

According to Ignite menu data from Technomic, mentions of vegetable bowls have grown 100% on noncommercial menus since last year. This could be a result of more diners seeking out healthy, plant-based options; Technomic’s 2018 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report finds that about 1 in 5 consumers (21%) say that when they want to order healthy items, they look for vegetarian or vegan items. Grain bowl meals made with a base of Simplot Good Grains Ancient Grain and Kale blend or Couscous, Red Quinoa and Vegetable blend are a perfect way for consumers to get more vegetables in their diets. Diners can add beans and vegetables, plus plant-based proteins such as nuts, seeds, tofu and more—everything they like, and nothing they don’t.

Global influences

Another great way to update bowl meals is by adding a new or exciting flavor profile. For instance, operators can suggest diners try a Latin American-flavored bowl, using a base of Exotic Grains with Fire Roasted Vegetables. The bowl can be topped with proteins such as grilled chicken or chorizo, plus flavorful toppings such as pickled jalapenos and carrots, salsa and more. Or suggest a Thai-inspired meal featuring Thai Quinoa and Vegetable Blend from Simplot Good Grains, made with garlic, green onions, lemongrass, turmeric and spices. Offer coconut curry as a sauce for this bowl, along with toppings such as scallions, sliced chicken, shrimp, broccoli, water chestnuts and more.

By offering customizable bowl meals, foodservice operators can appeal to all types of diners, from consumers looking for a plant-based option to ones looking for exciting new flavors. To learn more about Simply Good Grains blends, click here.

This post is sponsored by Simplot

Want breaking news at your fingertips?

Click here or text FSD to 888-111 to receive text alerts from FoodService Director and get the news and insights that matter to your operation.