How versatile ingredients can help keep costs and labor low

Photograph courtesy of Barilla

Amid the recovering market, foodservice operators are keen to make the most of increasing demand by offering diners the foods they’re craving most. But in order to balance the very real challenges in labor and supply chains against innovation and marketing, efficiency is everything.

Cut costs, reduce labor

The resurgence in consumer demand is great news for operators, but meeting this demand can be easier said than done. According to a May 2021 survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, half of operators in the foodservice and accommodations industries reported that labor shortages were limiting their business capacities. In short, as demand continues to increase, more and more operators need labor- saving solutions to optimize their back of house. Technomic’s June 2021 State of the Industry Report recommends that foodservice operators facing labor shortages simplify their training process, streamline prep work in the kitchen and cut costs by maximizing their use of fewer, more versatile ingredients.

The goal of cross-utilization is to trim down the pantry while maintaining—and even increasing—the number of offerings on the menu. Especially as diners begin patronizing foodservice more frequently, variety is key to keeping them coming back for more.

Maximize versatility

Multitasking ingredients can cut costs and reduce food waste; even as demand for certain dishes fluctuates, operators can put any unused ingredients to use elsewhere. What’s more, using similar components across the menu means that the kitchen staff has to learn to cook fewer ingredients, which saves time both in training as well as in everyday prep work.

Certain ingredients are especially helpful for menu optimization. A quality pasta from Barilla, for example, is the perfect canvas for operators to transform into meals for any cuisine type or flavor profile. The same rotini pasta, for example, can just as easily make an appearance in a cold pasta salad as in a cheesy Italian pasta bake. The same elbow pasta in a classic mac and cheese is just as delicious in a hearty minestrone soup.

We use pasta dishes to provide variety to the menu…they offer us the ability to prep ahead for a large scale kitchen while maintaining product consistency and minimizing costs.” – Gary Cooper, Strong Memorial Hospital

Other standby ingredients for favorite pasta dishes can come in handy for other offerings, too. As a rule of thumb, if an operator has ingredients for pasta, they can probably craft a pizza with many of the same cheeses, proteins and prepared sauces—and vice versa.

Gary Cooper, assistant director of food & nutrition services at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y., finds Barilla pastas instrumental to offering a diverse array of foodservice offerings.

“We use pasta dishes to provide variety to the menu,” says Cooper. “Popular dishes that utilize pasta in some capacity are: Eggplant Parmesan, Chicken French, Beef Stroganoff, Stuffed Shells, Lasagna and Macaroni & Cheese…[Dry pastas] offer us the ability to prep ahead for a large scale kitchen while maintaining product consistency and minimizing costs.”

Pasta varieties suited to a variety of dietary needs are important too, he adds. “We like Barilla due to some of the nutritional differences from other brands. There is the Gluten Free option, as well as Protein + [and Whole Grain]. The Barilla brand is easier for a hospital setting to utilize due to its anti-allergy and diabetic-friendly makeup.”   

Barilla pastas and sauces offer an unbeatable combination of quality, value and versatility—and in the coming months, foodservice operators need ingredients they can count on. For ideas in efficient innovation with Barilla pasta, including ideas for National Pasta Month, visit www.pastadelivers.com.

This post is sponsored by Barilla