Use versatile ingredients for easy grab-and-go meals

Photograph courtesy of Potatoes USA

As kids head back to school, administrators and foodservice operators are working overtime to ensure everyone stays safe amid the pandemic. Part of the plans for many schools may include spacing out where everyone eats lunch—traditional lunchrooms may be too crowded to comply with safety guidelines set forth by states or municipalities, for instance.

To work around this, grab-and-go options can be an ideal solution. Grab-and-go entrees and sides using versatile ingredients help keep labor manageable while ensuring kids have access to tasty foods they like. Potato products offer foodservice operators the help they need in creating delicious easy-prep meals, both hot and cold.

Heating up

On the hot side, Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, Peppers and Onions are perfect alongside any protein, from chicken breast to meatloaf. Made with hearty yellow potatoes, red and green bell peppers and aromatic rosemary, this dish offers a comforting, tasty option kids love. Another great comfort food side, Cowboy Mashed Potatoes, features red and yellow potatoes, plus zesty jalapeno peppers, baby carrots, corn and shredded cheese, for a Tex-Mex twist on this familiar favorite. And for a change of pace from a standard chicken sandwich, try offering an Asian-Style Chicken Potato Sandwich. This sandwich combines fajita-seasoned chicken strips with tasty diced potatoes and tangy, craveable Korean BBQ Sauce for a hearty option that’s sure to be a hit.  

Keeping cool

Potatoes offer flexibility to foodservice operators. Unlike many vegetables that taste best only when warm, potatoes are perfectly delicious cold, too. For instance, who doesn’t love potato salad? This picnic table staple is just as welcome on a school lunch menu. Buttermilk Ranch Potato Salad is sure to be a crowd pleaser, featuring tangy buttermilk and craveable ranch seasoning. Or, go global with Potato and “Samosa” Chicken Dippers—roasted potato wedges served with Indian-inspired Samosa Chicken Dip and Yogurt Raita Sauce.

Whether operators want to go with familiar flavors or new and exciting options, potatoes offer the possibility to do just about anything.

Foodservice operators can even use potatoes as an innovative breakfast or snack recipe. Potato Power Energy Bites, made with rolled oats, raisins, cinnamon, sunflower butter, maple syrup and mashed potatoes, are a no-bake, convenient option that’s perfect for a hearty grab-and-go snack or morning meal, perfect for kids on the go.

Fruits and vegetables play a key role in maintaining a healthy diet, and certain vegetables can really drive nutrition and sustenance throughout the day. Potatoes, along with sweet potatoes and carrots, have the highest per-dollar score of eight essential nutrients including potassium, fiber, protein and vitamin C. In fact, potatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C—which can play an important role in immune function—with one serving providing 30% of the recommended daily allowance.

Using versatile ingredients in the back of the house helps operators switch up the menu without needing to order more items and without extra labor for the kitchen staff. What’s more, potatoes lend themselves to eating just about anywhere—whether on a lunchroom tray or packaged in a grab-and-go lunch sack.

To get more recipe inspiration for great-tasting sides for K-12 cooking, visit

This post is sponsored by Potatoes USA