Use versatile ingredients to boost margins and efficiency

Grilled chicken salad
Photograph: Shutterstock

With diners heading back to their favorite restaurants, operators have cause for celebration. While many restaurants made necessary pivots to off-premise ordering to accommodate the needs of consumers during the pandemic, opening back up definitely allows for some more freedom on the menu. With that freedom, of course, comes the need to be mindful about what gets added to the menu—consumers can quickly get overwhelmed with too much variety, plus operators need to ensure they’re getting the best margins on dishes while minimizing waste. Optimizing the back of house, of course, need not come with sacrificing customer satisfaction. Using versatile ingredients can help ensure margins are great, labor is efficient, staff aren’t overstressed and diners are happy.

Appealing to customers

According to Technomic’s 2020 Future of FSR: Family and Casual Dining Consumer Trend Report, 43% of consumers say it’s important that restaurants offer signature items they can’t get anywhere else, 41% say it’s important that restaurants offer dishes that feature unique flavors and 29% say it’s important that restaurants offer new or limited-time only menu items. It’s crucial for operators to include new, exciting and trending flavors and ingredients on the menu—while also catering to more traditional palates and consumers who may be looking for familiar favorites. By choosing versatile ingredients to stock the kitchen, operators can easily do both—without maxing out food costs or overwhelming kitchen staff.

Time- and labor-saving options

When considering dishes to put on the menu, operators should choose dishes that have ingredients in common rather than calling for unique ingredients in every single dish. Cooked proteins and pastas, as well as prepared sauces, for example, can be used across the menu—from appetizers to entrees and sides—and can be used in dishes that feature familiar flavors as well as more adventurous options.

Operators can also opt to offer an array of speed-scratch sides—perfect for letting diners customize their meals without adding a lot of back-of-house work.

Using versatile, prepared ingredients from the starters menu to the dessert offerings can not only save operators time and labor, but it can also allow for a more varied menu. For example, use beef barbacoa for tasty, craveable street tacos on the small plates menu, and offer it up as a protein in a rice bowl or salad on the entrees menu. Or, take Grilled Chicken Breasts from Sandridge Foods: perfect atop just about any salad from a classic Caesar to Chinese Chicken, delicious as a standalone entree with two sides and convenient as can be when sliced over pasta—no matter the sauce.

By using prepared options that can be used in more than one dish—and with more than one flavor profile—operators can save on food costs, minimize waste and limit stress on the back of house, all while providing their customers the new and exciting (or comforting, familiar) options they’ve been craving.

Find out more about all Sandridge Food Corporation has to offer at

This post is sponsored by Sandridge Food Corporation


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