Heat-and-eat foods help operators save time, labor

Waffle sandwich
Photograph: Shutterstock

Among the myriad problems foodservice operators faced during the pandemic, the most critical continues to be the labor shortage. Despite a steady trend of job creation in the first half of the year, eating and drinking places are still nearly 1 million jobs, or 8%, below pre-pandemic employment levels, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2021 Mid-Year State of the Restaurant Industry Update.

As operators scramble to hire skilled workers, they are also looking for high-quality food products that can reduce labor costs and are versatile enough to utilize in every daypart. Krusteaz® waffles fit the bill for all types of restaurants. Made from premium ingredients with a fresh-from-the-griddle flavor, Krusteaz® heat-and-serve waffles are ideal for limited labor and kitchen-space situations because there’s no batter mixing nor waffle iron needed.

Waffles are hugely popular—especially with younger consumers: 35% of millennials say they order waffles, according to Ignite menu data, as do 27% of Gen Z and 16% of Gen X. Besides the popular Belgian-style waffles, with deep grooves to hold toppings, Krusteaz® offers Golden, Homestyle, Buttermilk, Whole Grain and Maple-Flavored varieties in shapes and sizes to fit every application. Here’s some ways to use these tasty, convenient heat-and-serve waffles across the menu.

Breakfast beyond basic

It’s easy to enhance the beloved breakfast sandwich by replacing the bread or roll with a crispy waffle. Krusteaz® Waffles are perfect sandwich carriers, especially the flat-bottom varieties that securely contain fillings. Egg with cheese and bacon or ham is the classic, but operators can add Mexican flair with chorizo and pico de gallo. Or smear a waffle with cream cheese, top with lox and a sprig of dill—an elevated fusion of breakfast faves.

Breakfast casseroles can be prepped ahead then bake for service. In a greased pan, layer waffles, then shredded cheese, chopped, cooked meats and vegetables; repeat until the pan is filled. In a bowl, beat eggs, milk and salt and pepper until combined then pour over casserole. Refrigerate until it’s time to bake.  

Savory fare

Consider the Waffuletta, a variation on the New Orleans classic Muffuletta. Using flat-bottom waffles as a base, layer plenty of salami, ham and mortadella with Provolone and mozzarella, then top with spicy olive salad and another waffle. The Monte Cristo is another sandwich classic that can easily be enhanced with waffles; just dip the ham-and-cheese sandwich in egg batter and fry.

To accompany a bowl of stew or chili, consider siding that with a Krusteaz® whole-grain waffle instead of biscuits or cornbread.

Sweet treats

Desserts are another area where waffles can dazzle. Dessert waffles are trending upwards by 2%, according to Ignite menu data.

House-made ice cream sandwiches with waffles as the carrier are sure to appeal. Try a Krusteaz® maple-flavored or buttermilk waffle paired with butter pecan ice cream.

Riff on the Spanish indulgence churros y chocolate. Spray waffle sticks lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with sugar-cinnamon mixture, then serve with rich and thick hot chocolate for dipping. 

Turn waffles into a rich bread pudding, too. Slice waffles into bite-sized chunks and mix with raisins, toasted nuts, shredded coconut and chocolate chips. In a bowl, combine eggs and cream plus ground cinnamon and nutmeg with a dash of vanilla. Pour over waffle mixture and bake in a moderate oven until a knife comes out clean. Serve hot or cold.

For more inspiration, Conagra Foodservice offers a number of tasty recipes at

This post is sponsored by Conagra Foodservice


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