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4 reasons to use on-hand ingredients in craveable LTOs

Photograph: Shutterstock

As dining rooms in restaurants reopen to the public, operators will be welcoming back their loyal customers with open arms. But with many reopening plans, operators are beholden to new capacity guidelines restricting the number of people allowed to be seated at one time. As a result, restaurants will have to work extra hard to ensure not only customer satisfaction, but also a streamlined back of house. One way to do this is by using existing menu items and back-of-house ingredients to create delicious, craveable LTOs. According to Technomic’s Foodservice Impact Monitor – 12th Edition, 24% of operators said that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, they pivoted toward offering family meals and meal kits, while 23% said they pivoted toward offering value offers.

Included in these family meals and value offers are, of course, LTOs. In the month of June, operators menued a total of 1,263 LTOs across menu parts. LTOs are a great way to keep guests interested in the menu, but preparing them can often mean extra work for kitchen staff.

By using ingredients like fresh-dried mashed potatoes, however, operators can eliminate some of the labor involved in creating new and unique dishes. Here are four reasons why operators should use on-hand ingredients, such as fresh-dried mashed potatoes, to create LTOs.

1) They’re customizable

Fresh-dried mashed potatoes come together in a snap—but their speedy prep isn’t their only trick in the kitchen. Kitchen staff can customize them in a number of ways—adding cheese, stirring in bacon, drizzling with hot sauce, etc.—to create unique, exciting side dishes. They can also be topped with any number of delicious garnishes as an alternative to the classic salad bar option of building one’s own baked potato. Offer customers their choice of three toppings for their mashed potatoes for a truly customizable meal.

2) They travel well

Takeout and delivery are still dominating restaurant sales, and it’s key for operators to make sure every dish that goes out can hold up to travel times—especially if they’re special offers meant to boost interest in the restaurant and increase sales. Fresh-dried mashed potatoes, in any of their various forms, travel well, and any leftovers can also be reheated easily without losing quality. For operators, that means a stress-free LTO.

3) They’re a comfort food customers love

In stressful times, consumers seek out foods they love. Comfort foods, after all, are called comfort foods for a reason. But even if they’re ordering familiar foods, many consumers may still crave innovation and the chance to try something a little bit different. Mashed potatoes offer the comfort these customers are seeking, but thanks to their easy customization, can also offer the change of pace some diners are after, too.

4) They’re low-labor and high-margin

Finally, mashed potatoes are a cost-effective solution for creating great LTOs. One of the factors many operators worry about when creating an LTO is whether it will pay off or if they’ll be stuck with unused product or expensive leftover ingredients. That’s not the case when the LTO includes mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes are a low-labor, high-margin, food-cost friendly option to menu as an LTO—and because customers are already familiar with them, operators won’t have to do much to convince them to order something they’re unsure about.

For operators looking for a cost-effective, popular LTO option to menu, mashed potatoes fit the bill. Customized with great toppings or unique mix-ins, potatoes offer customers the comfort food options they love and the innovation they crave, all while being safe for takeout and delivery orders. To learn more, visit idahoanfoodservice.com.

This post is sponsored by Idahoan Foods

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