4 Easy Ways to Make Your Menu Healthier

Society has made a shift. We are now, as a whole, “health-conscious.” Instagram is full of beautiful photos of colorful vegetables, an onslaught of health-related books grace the shelves of our local bookstores and libraries, untold articles delve into the pros and cons of new alternative diets. And so the pendulum swings, in what can only be called a societal shift. We are now experiencing a backlash against hyper-processed, high-calorie, low nutrient foods. This is a retaliation against America’s unhealthy eating habits and expanding waistlines.

People are looking for healthy options and it has become a major factor when choosing where to eat. According to a restaurant industry forecast conducted by the National Restaurant Association, “71 percent of adults said they are trying to eat healthier at restaurants.” Don’t let your establishment fall behind when it comes to getting on the health bandwagon. We’ve assembled a few tricks to help you create or simply revamp your menu with a healthy bent.

1. Substitutes

4 Easy Ways to Make Your Menu Healthier

Creating a healthy menu that still boasts delicious meals is all about substitutions. You can sub out many traditional ingredients for healthy alternatives. It can be as simple as swapping brown rice for white. Greek yogurt can be substituted in most recipes for sour cream. One of the easiest alternatives is switching olive oil for butter, and that’s just the beginning. Ohio State University compiled a very comprehensive list of healthy alternative ingredients that will jump-start your creativity and help you make some changes to your favorite dishes. As you make these changes in your recipes be sure your patrons are aware that they are eating meals that have been created in a health-conscious manner.

2. Quality

4 Easy Ways to Make Your Menu Healthier

By and large, patrons have shown that they are willing to pay for good ingredients. Be sure that your restaurant provides them. When revamping your menu make sure you use verbiage that will showcase the fact that your restaurant features organic vegetables and antibiotic-free meats in your recipes. Stress the origins of your food so your diners are aware that your sourced their meal from local farms. People are willing to pay extra for premium ingredients and they feel good doing it.

3. Make Room for Creativity

4 Easy Ways to Make Your Menu Healthier

According to a recent survey conducted by BFS Capital, millennials look for a few things in particular when choosing a restaurant. Ranking at the top of that list is the ability for customization. Millennials love the ability to be creative with their food even when dining out. This is a model that has worked well for decades at restaurants like Chipotle, Piada and Blaze Pizza. These restaurants all tout long lists of ingredient options and virtually limitless combinations.

4. Changing the Layout

4 Easy Ways to Make Your Menu Healthier

Perhaps you already have a number of healthy dishes on your menu but they aren’t in a prime location. Sometimes poor placement on a menu can be as bad as not even offering the dish. Be sure when re-engineering your menu to highlight those healthy dishes. Giving them prime real-estate (at the top of columns, or in a highlighted box). This placement will draw the eye and reinforce the effort your restaurant makes to be health-conscious. Adding small symbols on the side of your meals is an easy indicator to readers that some dishes are Vegetarian, Vegan, or Gluten-free and makes them easier to find.

Making a few easy changes to your menus’ ingredients, playing up the value of your food, placing your healthiest meals in prime locations, and allowing for customization are all easy ways of showing the public that you are serious about their health and the food you create. These simple tricks will keep your diners happy, your food delicious, and your restaurant relevant.

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Hannah Abaffy

Hannah Abaffy

Pastry Chef & Recipe Development

Hannah Abaffy is a pastry chef and an active member of the culinary community. From working in kitchens to developing recipes, and creating menus for restaurants, she has been involved with food in one capacity or another for the past decade. After starting a food history blog, Hannah has been continuously writing and learning about the ever-changing realm of cuisine, its history, and its future. Since then her appetite to learn about and share all things that touch upon the world of food can only be described as voracious.