Plant-forward options without added labor: How incidentally vegetarian foods can boost menu appeal

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Plant-forward menu items are becoming more and more sought-after by diners who are making the switch to a vegetarian lifestyle as well as consumers who simply want to eat more vegetables. For foodservice operators, the crunch to offer additional menu items that meet these diners’ needs can feel overwhelming. But there’s good news: Some dishes already on the menu and already popular among diners—such as Stouffer’s® Vegetable Lasagna or Tuscan Style Vegetable Lasagna—already fit the bill as being plant-forward meal options.

To broaden menu appeal for diners who want more plant-forward and meatless meals, operators need to make sure their customers are aware that certain foods are in fact plant-forward or meatless. Menus may not need big updates, after all, if there are plenty of meals that are already incidentally vegetarian. By highlighting these dishes’ plant-forward recipes, consumers may take second notice of them—without operators having to develop completely new dishes.

Appealing to plant-forward meal seekers without adding more work

A majority of consumers don’t identify as vegetarian—only about 3% do, according to Technomic’s 2019 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian Consumer Trend Report. But on the whole, about 20% of consumers say they’re eating more vegetarian dishes now than they were two years ago.

For these diners, as well as those who are following a strict vegetarian diet, offering familiar favorite foods, such as Stouffer’s® Vegetable Lasagna, is an easy way to offer a plant-forward option without adding a lot of labor to the back of house. By offering a vegetable-forward, meatless entree option, operators can feel confident that they’re appealing to diners’ needs without having to invest in dozens more ingredients to make a new dish.

Quality ingredients make for delicious plant-forward options

Plant-forward options may call to mind green salads, vegetable-packed wraps and sandwiches, stir-fries and more, but there are a lot of diners who, while they want a plant-forward option, don’t necessarily crave those options. Sometimes, consumers want something that’s cozy and rich, indulgent and comforting—something they can rely on. For these diners, Vegetable Lasagna from Stouffer’s® is just that dish. Made with fresh lasagna noodles with 10 grams of whole grains per serving, as well as a blend of mozzarella, ricotta, Romano, Asiago and Parmesan cheeses and a mixture of spinach, broccoli and shoestring carrots, it’s a nutrient-packed dish that’s hearty and satisfying, whether someone’s looking for a vegetarian meal or not.

Promote plant-forward options

Foods like Stouffer’s® Vegetable Lasagna are universally appealing, thanks to familiar ingredients and quality preparation. Operators should be sure to highlight that this lasagna is also plant-forward. By preemptively answering diners’ questions about the dish, operators can instill confidence in consumers and let them know they care. Simply post a sign near the dish on the hot bar to let diners know what ingredients are in it and other naturally plant-forward dishes.

Appealing to those who want plant-forward meals doesn’t mean offering a whole new menu. In fact, for most operators, the answer is already on the menu. To learn more about Stouffer’s® Vegetable Lasagna, visit

This post is sponsored by Stouffer’s®

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