How versatile products benefit foodservice operators amid labor challenges

Today’s labor challenges are unlike anything operators have ever seen. Employee retention has always been a big deal, but now simply finding reliable talent can be a struggle—and that’s saying nothing of challenges arising once workers are hired, including scheduling conflicts, illness and more. In order to mitigate the problems brought on by short-staffed operations, operators are looking for ways to strategically streamline their kitchens without sacrificing quality, taste, convenience or menu variety. Choosing versatile products helps in a few ways: They reduce shrink due to food waste; they speed up prep work, which is perfect for understaffed kitchens; and they simplify training, which is ideal amid current labor challenges.

Reducing shrink via food waste

Choosing versatile products to use across the menu can help reduce overall food waste. If, say, a cheese sauce is used on a pasta dish, as a base for pizzas and a condiment for veggies, that’s three dishes rather than just one, meaning the product will get used up faster and won’t expire. By choosing ingredients that can be used across menu parts and dayparts, operators can reduce the amount of food they need to throw away. Part of this will require operators to tinker with the menu to ensure offerings align with the products kept on-hand, but with crowd-pleasing, delicious ingredients, that’s not a tall order.

Speeding up prep work

Versatile ingredients also help quicken prep work. By choosing speed-scratch ingredients for an array of dishes, kitchen staff can prep one thing once and use it across the menu rather than needing to create several different components for each individual dish. For instance, if the menu features four dishes that all use an ingredient such as a prepared garlic and herb butter or cheese sauce, kitchen staff can simply prep once and go—rather than having to prep four different sauces for four different dishes. Additionally, choosing speed-scratch, versatile ingredients means kitchen staff will spend less time overall getting the kitchen ready to go.

Compare prepping a heat-and-serve product to scratch cooking, for instance. Going to the pantry or walk-in and collecting all the ingredients; chopping ingredients and measuring seasonings; and finally doing the cooking itself takes a lot of time. When incorporated across the menu, speed-scratch ingredients can drastically cut down the amount of time and labor needed to make each dish.

Simplifying training

Finally, versatile ingredients can simplify training—ideal for the current labor challenges and especially so in college and university settings, where student labor means working with employees who are not likely to be classically trained in cooking techniques. By using versatile ingredients such as Land O Lakes® Performance Dairy cheese sauces and other dairy products from Land O’Lakes Foodservice, operators can trim the amount of training needed to produce each dish on the menu—especially if some of the ingredients are speed-scratch time-savers.

Choosing quality, versatile ingredients is a great help amid today’s labor challenges and will help kitchens set themselves up for future success—not only with regards to customer satisfaction from great-tasting food, but also thanks to the ingredients’ time-saving nature. To learn more about helpful, delicious products from Land O’Lakes Foodservice, visit

This post is sponsored by Land O'Lakes Foodservice