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Food

Make holiday celebrations easy with meal kits and off-premise offerings

Photograph: Shutterstock

With the holidays just around the corner, restaurants are staring down yet another challenge this year: How can they deliver the same special holiday experience and indulgence that often drives sales and raises check averages, even as dining room capacities are restricted in some places (and closed in others)?

Delivering authentic flavor and high-quality dishes remains paramount, and, as is customary around the holidays, togetherness will be top of mind for many consumers. That’s why for restaurants, offering meal kits—both ready-to-heat as well as options that involve some prep at home—can be a great opportunity. From appetizers to dessert, meal kits provide consumers with the convenience they need during these busy months without sacrificing the feeling of treating oneself with a special meal.

Authentic, indulgent ingredients

No matter what’s on the menu, customers want to know they’re getting dishes made with great ingredients. For operators, conveying quality can be as easy as listing qualifying words on the menu or website—source information for meats and poultry, for instance, as well as specific origin for ingredients such as cheese.

Real California Dairy, for instance, shows diners that the cheese used on the menu is sourced from domestic farms and produced in authentic ways certain to deliver deliciousness. Take advantage of the variety Real California Dairy offers—cheeses from classic cheddar to creamy brie, soft mascarpone and zesty pepper Jack, just to name a few, make it easy to create an array of cheese-centric dishes that are perfect for meal kits. For instance,  Mexican Mac & Cheese is a delicious twist on a classic favorite—great as a main dish or as a side, and Strawberries Pazzo with Sage Honey Labne makes a perfect appetizer (or even a dessert!).

A Beef Pastitsio with California Cheddar and Dry Jack cheese makes for a perfect brunch meal kit, and  Shrimp and Cheese Grits are an ideal for creating Southern flavors. Whatever diners are looking to eat this holiday season, there’s a cheese that can make it even better.

Comforting convenience

Cheese boards offer an easy plate-and-serve option, perfect for appetizers and small plates, game-day snacking or just an easy weeknight meal. Restaurants can offer cheese and charcuterie boards that consumers can customize to their liking, or operators can pre-select several options for consumers to choose from. For instance, offer a “classics” cheese board, a Hispanic-style cheese board and a mix-and-match board with both hard and soft cheeses. To fill out the boards, offer accompaniments such as pickles or gherkins, marinated olives, dried fruits, crackers or flatbreads and meats including prosciutto, salami and more.

Meal kits from restaurants are the perfect way for consumers to indulge a bit this year without giving up the feeling of being treated. Made with high quality ingredients including Real California Dairy, holiday dishes will offer just as much comfort as any other year. And when they’re from a restaurant, that means more time to spend together and less time in the kitchen—what’s not to love?

To learn more about all of the cheeses available from California dairies, or to get more menu inspiration, visit realcaliforniamilk.com/foodservice/.

This post is sponsored by California Milk Advisory Board

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