Menu shakeups for K-12 cafeterias can be complicated. Operators need to adhere to government guidelines for nutrition, and kids are notoriously picky, so straying too far from familiar favorites can be risky. But with a few tweaks, operators can transform classics that kids love—without adding work to the back-of-house or needing to start with a new recipe from scratch.
Macaroni and cheese, an undeniable crowd-pleaser, is the perfect canvas for interesting flavors, nutritious toppings and indulgent add-ons—and when operators use Land O Lakes® Prepared Macaroni and Cheese, there’s no need to worry about labor. Here’s a few ways operators can freshen up mac offerings without adding stress to staff or bursting the budget.
Comfort food mashups
Kids love familiar foods like mac and cheese, hot dogs, pizza and hamburgers, so what better way to boost menu appeal by combining some of their favorites? Offer up All-American Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese, for instance, made with Land O Lakes® 25% Reduced Sodium, 50% Reduced Fat Macaroni & Cheese with Whole Grains, 85% lean ground beef and spices, topped with optional pickle slices and ketchup. Or, try Mac and Cheese Pizza—top a whole grain pizza crust with prepared mac and cheese and additional shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses for a delicious lunchtime option.
Global cuisines have made their way onto mainstream restaurant menus, and even picky eaters won’t turn away from fun new flavors if they’re paired with a favorite familiar food. Try a Tex-Mex option—Fajita Mac and Cheese—by adding Mexican seasoning, fajita-style chicken strips and salsa to prepared mac and cheese for a hearty, zesty meal. Or, branch out even farther with Korean-Inspired Mac and Cheese, made with gochujang paste and ginger and topped with Korean meatballs made with gochujang paste and teriyaki sauce. This mildly spicy and sweet dish is sure to be a hit.
Portable formats and all-day eats
Another way to use mac and cheese in school cafeterias is in applications beyond the lunchroom and lunchtime. For example, try offering a Philly Mac Breakfast Bake—shredded beef, liquid eggs and frozen peppers and onions are mixed together with prepared mac and cheese and baked for an omelet-style morning meal. Portability can also boost participation—taking meals on-the-go is easy with options like Pepper and Onion Mini Mac and Cheese Cups. Muffin tins offer the perfect vessel for these handheld bites that are perfect for breakfast, lunch and snacks.
Using a versatile product such as Land O Lakes® Prepared Macaroni and Cheese makes it easy to experiment with menu offerings without straying from nutritional requirements or the taste kids love. To learn more, visit here.
This post is sponsored by Land O'Lakes Foodservice