Demand for healthy dining options has never been hotter. According to the National Restaurant Association,73 percent of adults are trying to eat healthier at restaurants than they did two years ago. This growing food trend has certainly not been lost on restaurant owners across the United States. As many as four in five restaurant owners indicate their guests pay more attention to the nutritional content of food.
Interested in boosting sales and gaining an edge on the competition? Follow these three tips for crafting and marketing nutritional dishes to health-conscious diners without leaving behind popular menu options your customers know and love.
Catering to health-conscious diners doesn’t mean you have to spend hours creating a new menu. Try substituting ingredients that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol or sodium with highly-nutritious options to make your top dishes healthier. There are dozens of substitutes you can incorporate to raise the nutritional value of your menu without sacrificing flavor, including swapping out white rice for brown rice or cooking spaghetti with zucchini ribbons instead of carb-packed noodles. If you’re hungry for even more ways to cut down on calories, offer to grill or roast dishes instead of frying them.
Once you’ve thought of some healthy alternatives to your restaurant’s best-selling dishes, the next step is to fill in your customers. Update your printed and online menus to include a designated section or special icons calling out light, healthy options. Also consider featuring substitute dishes on your restaurant’s website and social channels to attract potential customers who might weigh the healthy menu items at several different restaurants.
Always take caution when classifying menu items as healthy. According to U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, any food being used in a health claim cannot have more than20 percent of an individual’s daily value for fat, cholesterol or sodium.
While creating great-tasting, healthy alternatives is crucial, that alone is not enough to persuade health-conscious diners to choose your restaurant over the competition. Customers also want to know where their food came from. In a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers conducted by Cowen and Company,nearly 40 percent of respondents ranked “where food comes from” as either very or extremely important. Post a list online that details specific dishes that use organic or locally-sourced ingredients. Raise your restaurant’s level of transparency even further by giving diners the opportunity to ask any questions they have regarding your menu either online via a contact form or in-person.