How to offer plant-based dishes without adding labor

Offering plant-based menu items doesn’t need to come with added labor or cost.
Photograph: Shutterstock

As plant-based diets continue to rise in popularity, restaurant operators may feel pressured to make drastic changes to their menus to accommodate these changing preferences. In reality, though, some dishes that are currently on the menu and popular among diners, such as Stouffer’s®  White Cheddar Mac & Cheese, still appeal to diners following these diets, even though they may not seem to fit the “plant-forward” label.

For operators who want to broaden their appeal to diners who are trying to eat more plant-based or meatless dishes, the key is positioning. Menus may not need big updates, but the way items are showcased can be refined to highlight foods’ specific qualities—such as being plant-based or meatless—and that can make those dishes more appealing.

Appealing to diners interested in plant-based foods

While only a small number of consumers strictly follow a vegetarian diet—about 3%, according to Technomic’s 2019 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian Consumer Trend Report—many more say they have been eating more vegetarian dishes in general compared to two years ago. In fact, according to Technomic, nearly 1 in 5 consumers say so.

For these diners, as well as for those who follow more rigid vegetarian diets, offering comfort food favorites such as Stouffer’s®White Cheddar Mac & Cheeseis a perfect solution for ensuring there’s always a plant-based, vegetarian option available, without having to invest in a handful of extra ingredients that can be used for only one or two dishes.

Comfort foods made with quality ingredients

While plant-based options might bring to mind images of stir-fries packed with broccoli and peapods, a veggie burger or a green salad, there are plenty of diners who don’t always want that when looking for a vegetarian meal. Sometimes diners just want a comforting, familiar dish they can rely on. For such diners, White Cheddar Mac & Cheese from Stouffer’s® can be that dish. Made with nine-month-aged white New York sharp cheddar cheese and containing no preservatives, artificial flavors or colors, it’s a high-quality, wholesome dish every diner can feel good about eating, whether they’re looking for a vegetarian meal or not.

Another option to offer these diners is Stouffer’s®  Tuscan-Style Vegetable Lasagna, a meatless entrée made with no artificial flavors or colors, stuffed with a rich blend of spinach, kale and artichoke, plus a blend of four cheeses.

Versatility without added labor

Mac and cheese, positioned as a plant-based, vegetarian-friendly dish, ensures there’s always something on the menu for those who are abstaining from meat, whether for a long-term dietary choice or just for that meal. What’s more, it offers a delicious base for operators to riff on so they can mix things up: Adding green chiles, corn and black beans makes a Tex-Mex White Cheddar Mac dish diners will love, and adding Buffalo cauliflower to it gives it a spicy kick without the meat. It can be offered as a side or an entree. And best of all, because it’s already prepared, operators don’t have to worry about added labor costs.

By highlighting foods that are incidentally vegetarian, operators can make sure they’re catering to consumers who want a plant-based option, all without adding complicated vegetarian meals that take a lot of extra time and labor to prepare.

To learn more about Stouffer’s®  White Cheddar Mac & Cheese and Tuscan-Style Vegetable Lasagna, visit nestleprofessional.us/stouffers.

This post is sponsored by Stouffer’s®