How to use the plus-one strategy to build unique LTOs

Photograph: AFP advanced foods products llc

In today's fast-paced food industry, staying updated on changing diner preferences is crucial for success. Younger consumers in particular are looking for exciting menu options, with 52% of 18-34 year-olds actively seeking new flavors, according to Technomic’s 2023 Flavor Consumer Trend Report. Operators are introducing these new flavors through limited-time offerings (LTOs), which have increased by 45% year-over-year from 2022 to 2023, according to Ignite menu data.

The plus-one approach makes it easy to satisfy diners and keep them coming back for more. This strategy involves elevating core menu items and creating signature dishes by re-imagining everyday ingredients. Products such as cheese sauces, dips and puddings are great solutions to use when incorporating the plus-one approach.

Explore the versatile, shelf-stable options from AFP advanced food products llc and see how they make delicious bases for unique and exciting options.

Win big with cheese sauce

As of January 2024, cheese-focused LTOs over-index with Gen Z according to Ignite Consumer Brand Ratings data and appear on top-rated lists for purchase intent, uniqueness and draw. This makes cheese sauce the perfect product for plus-ones.

Start simple with a two-ingredient combination: mix Muy Fresco® Cheese Sauce and Sriracha to create a new dip or condiment to drizzle over nachos or spread on a burger. Next, beef up the menu with Queso Fundido, a delicious, melted cheese dip enhanced with spices, ground meat and veggies for a tasty and shareable appetizer.

Take plus-ones even further by exploring fun flavor mashups in a brunch side sure to appeal to younger diners—according to Technomic’s 2023 On-Premise Multi-Client Study, 72% of millennials and 69% of Gen Z visit restaurants for brunch once a month. For recipe inspiration, try Hangover Fries, which feature cheese sauce plus a mix of other common menu items: diced ham, chopped bacon, fried eggs and cheese sauce over a bed of French fries.

Dip into menu success

Dips are a flavorful and efficient way to unlock menu potential. For a quick and unique signature condiment idea, serve French Fries with a side of Muy Fresco® French Onion Dip. This dynamic duo will have diners saying “au revoir” to the ordinary.

Breakfast can be even better when restaurants use the plus-one strategy. Take hashbrowns to the next level in this fun twist on toast featuring French onion dip, crumbled bacon and a sprinkle of everything seasoning.

Looking to transform lunch or dinner? Simply spread French onion dip on a tortilla and top with sliced roast beef for a Hot French Onion Dip Wrap.

Sweeten the day

The versatility of pudding makes it the perfect pick for modern menu items, like upgraded breakfast treats. Dessert-inspired breakfast starches were ranked as a top LTO during the first quarter of 2024, according to Technomic’s LTO Monthly Activity data from January 2024 . Meet demand with a craveable plus-one: Stuffed Pancakes. Simply combine Real Fresh® Vanilla Pudding with berries or chocolate chips and layer between a stack of pancakes. Or try this Loaded Chocolate Dip with chocolate pudding and serve as a side for French toast sticks.

With 40% of consumers seeking nostalgic flavors, according to Technomic’s Flavor report, pudding can be the star of the dessert menu. Take diners back in time with an indulgent Pudding Pop-Inspired Shake: combine chocolate ice cream with chocolate pudding and milk for the ultimate creamy combination. Top with chocolate syrup and chocolate whipped cream.

Find more ways to plus up the menu

Get more plus-one menu inspiration with AFP’s easy-to-use products and on-trend recipes.


This post is sponsored by AFP advanced food products llc


Exclusive Content


This is why the restaurant business is in a value war right now

The Bottom Line: Same-store sales have slowed markedly for the past year as customers shifted to other options. And now operators are furiously working to get them back.


Saladworks-parent WOWorks is shopping for new brands to buy

The platform company is almost finished assimilating its existing six brands. Now it's time to add to the family, said CEO Kelly Roddy.


2 more reminders that the restaurant business is risky

The Bottom Line: Franchising is no less risky than opening your own restaurant. Just ask former NFL player David Tyree and the former president of McDonald's Mexico.