Each year, foodservice operators try to predict what food trends will be popular with consumers in the new year. Chartwells K12 has released its list of the food trends it thinks the country’s youngest eaters will gravitate toward in the coming monthsbased on what it’s seen at schools across the country.
1. Breakfast all day
Dishes like cinnamon french toast with apple compote; sausage, egg and cheese bagels; and berry banana smoothies are not just for the morning hours. All-day breakfast rose in prominence a couple of years ago and continues to be popular among young diners. Chartwells K12 says that kids are looking for a wider variety of creative breakfast dishes served at all meal parts, such as scrambled egg breakfast pizzas and huevos rancheros tacos.
3. Plant power
Plant-based eating continues its upward trend in both commercial and noncommercial settings and is popular with kids and adults alike. Chartwells K12 says operators can add variety to plant-based menus by introducing dishes such as apple beet wheatberry wraps, watermelon edamame poke bowls andsloppy joe lentils.
4. Kids in the kitchen
Kids have become more involved in the kitchen with increased time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, says Chartwells K12. Spending more time in the kitchen will continue into this year, and the foodservice management company says it provides an opportunity for younger eaters to learn new educational skills, such as measuring, while also trying new foods.
5. Healthy snacking
Healthy snacks will continue to be popular in the new year as the pandemic drags on. Chartwells K12 says operators can keep snacks exciting for kids by offering a variety of options such as homemade beet fries, ranch popcorn, sunbutter banana rollups and hummus with veggies.
6. Mood-boosting foods
Research has shown that certain foods can impact mood and physical well-being, according to Chartwells K12. The company had been working to show kids the connection between mood and food even before the pandemic with the Mood Boost program it rolled out at schools across the country.
7. Regional American favorites
While students and their families remain stuck at home, Chartwells K12 says that exploring new places through food will increase in popularity. Kids will be curious to try regional cuisine, such as New Orleans'po boys, California cobb salad and Chicago-style hot dogs.
8. Locally grown–or grown on your own
The farm-to-school movement has been gaining steam at schools across the country over the past several years and is expected to continue even with the pandemic. Students are not only trying locally grown food, but are also learning how that food is grown through school gardens or local farms.
10. Super sandwiches
Classic sandwich options like grilled cheese are still popular with kids, says Chartwells K12, but young eaters will continue branching out with sandwiches like a roasted eggplant provolone panini and a mojo BBQ pulled pork sandwich.