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Versatile ingredients offer low-labor solution for multiple meals

Photograph: Shutterstock

With the pandemic has come the need for foodservice operators to quickly adapt to a new normal—fewer meals served onsite means needing to optimize the menu to minimize food waste, for instance, and skeleton crew staffs mean getting creative with what’s being served to ensure variety without adding a lot of labor to the back of house.

One solution to both of these issues is choosing versatile ingredients that are not only shelf-stable for a long time, but that also can be used in an array of dishes. Particularly in K-12, where picky eaters abound, it's crucial for foodservice operators to serve palate-pleasing options. By using versatile ingredients such as tortilla chips, operators can create a number of different dishes all with one convenient product. Check out these tips for how to do it.

Customizable nachos   

Despite most self-serve dining options being eliminated due to safety concerns, the opportunity to customize meals is still important, especially for young students who may have strong aversions to certain foods. By offering options like customizable nachos, operators can set up a toppings bar with a staffer to serve up each helping, ensuring cross-contamination isn’t happening and that only one person touches the serving utensils. Nacho options can go across the globe, too—offer Korean BBQ Nachos, topped with diced chicken, carrots, green onion, red onion, red bell pepper, chopped cilantro and Korean BBQ sauce.

Nachos are also great as a grab-and-go option. Pre-packaged meals including either chicken or beef, or beans for a vegetarian option, can be portioned out in advance so students can grab a container and go.

Walking tacos

Similarly, tortilla chips including Tostitos® and Doritos® can be used as the base for portable, fun “walking tacos.” Individually portioned bags of chips are topped with traditional taco ingredients, such as shredded lettuce, grated cheese, ground beef or beans, tomatoes and more, and eaten with a fork right out of the bag. It’s a fun menu option for students and adults alike, and can be put together in just a few seconds. What’s more, there’s limited waste due to the meal being made in its own packaging—no Styrofoam or additional plastic containers to worry about.  

Other toppings

Finally, tortilla chips and corn chips can be used as toppings in their own right—on soups, salads, burgers, tacos and more. Crunchy, crispy chips—whole or broken into smaller pieces—add a great textural element to any meal, and can elevate soups such as chicken tortilla or beef chili to the next level.  Chips can be used as a topping inside burritos, too—adding Fritos® corn chips to a beef or bean burrito gives a great crunch that students love.

Versatility both on-premise and off

Whether students are dining on-premise or grabbing a lunch to go, versatile ingredients such as chips provide a great solution for creating an array of tasty meals students love. From toppings on soup to innovative burrito ingredients and customizable nacho plates, chips are a crowd pleaser for both diners and foodservice staff alike. To learn more about how to incorporate versatile ingredients on the menu, and to find out more about PepsiCo Foodservice’s Nacho Sweepstakes, wherein schools can win $500 by putting nachos on the menu, click here.

This post is sponsored by PepsiCo Foodservice

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