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Food

Best practices for menu planning success

Lamb Weston fries
Image Courtesy of Lamb Weston

Whether dining in or dining out, there’s one mantra that holds true—life’s too short for soggy fries. That’s why it’s key for restaurant operators to ensure their fries are standing up to current challenges—including longer hold times and delivery. With takeout and delivery still holding strong, even since dining rooms have reopened, operators need to be sure their fries can rise to the occasion. While on-premise, it’s crucial for the menu to taste perfect every time. Here are some menu planning tips for keeping consumers happy and fries crispy. 

Labor-saving products

Labor shortages continue to be prevalent, and operators are looking for ways to streamline their menu and reduce labor costs. One solution is to use products that can help save on prep time, and a good place to start is with fries. When it comes to convenience and cost savings, frozen fries can’t be beat. Frozen products are easy to prepare and serve without sacrificing that made-from-scratch taste and can be simply stored in the freezer and cooked in just minutes.

When cooking up the perfect fry, there are a few tips to keep in mind. For example, keep fries frozen until they’re ready to cook and make sure the oil temperature is between 345- and 350-degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also important not to over-stack them in the fryer to prevent uneven cooking.

A great base product

Coatings and batters play a big role in how fries carry and hold their heat. Whether consumers are waiting for their order to be delivered to their door or table, the end goal is fries that keep their crunch no matter where they end up. Operators should look for french fry products that are coated or battered to ensure they can hold their shape and heat longer.

With the right coating and batter, fries can withstand the test of time and exceed traditional hold parameters by staying crispy for up to 30 minutes.

Coated and battered fries give restaurant operators the opportunity to showcase flavor creativity and craft signature recipes. And with longer hold times, these fries are an ideal base for topped & loaded dishes. According to Ignite menu data, U.S. menu trends for 2021’s fourth quarter reported that loaded fries had a 15.3% year-over-year growth and chili cheese fries grew 7.1%. For operators looking for new ways to innovate with fries, loading them up with craveable toppings can be one way to go.

Delivery and Takeout

When it comes to takeout and delivery, operators should choose a product that offers the longevity and reliability needed for today’s diners—for on-premise and off. There are some best practices to keep top of mind to preserve that crunch. Use vented packaging to reduce moisture build up, keep fries upright, pack separately from cold foods and provide the consumer with reheating tips on the packaging to maintain crispiness.

Look beyond burgers

Technomic’s 2021 Burger Consumer Trend Report found that 75% of consumers prefer ordering fries as a side for their burger, but burgers aren’t the only meal diners love enjoying fries with. In fact, Technomic’s 2021 Starters, Small Plate & Sides Consumer Trend Report noted that 50% of consumers say fries are their preferred appetizer or small plate. For these diners, operators can not only offer the classic french fry dish but can also incorporate seasonal ingredients and trendy flavors to keep things interesting and customers intrigued. Japanese furikake is just one trending topping, and operators can consider offering this and other globally inspired takes, as well as more indulgent offerings, such as topping fries with barbecue pulled pork and nacho cheese, or pepperoni and mozzarella for ‘pizza fries.’

For more great tips on how to plan a successful menu with crispy fries, click here.

This post is sponsored by Lamb Weston

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