Grab and go foods are the latest trend in fast-casual restaurants and are meant to appeal to the busy lives of the average customer. These days, sitting down at a restaurant for a couple of hours just isn't an option for many people. Customers often look for meal options that can be taken with them to go, without sacrificing the quality and freshness of a dine-in meal.

What is Grab and Go Food?

Grab and go foods are premade and prepackaged meals and snacks offered as an alternative way of dining in cafes, bakeries, grocery stores, colleges, hotels, and other establishments. However, customers aren't looking for boring options like the average ham and cheese sandwich. Customers most attracted to grab and go foods want their meals to be as high-quality, diverse, and delicious as they would be in a restaurant.

If you're looking to keep customers satisfied outside of your establishment, consider adding grab and go healthy breakfast options or grab and go lunches to your weekly menu. Set up a small station where customers can easily come in and choose their upcoming meal, and provide a mouthwatering selection customers can't wait to get their hands on.

What to Keep in Mind When Building a Grab and Go Menu

Before you start planning out your grab and go menu, there are several steps to take to ensure that you're putting out products customers will love while cutting food waste and costs when possible.

Keep in mind the demands of your customers:

  • High quality, fresh ingredients
  • A multitude of options
  • Easy carry out process

Helpful Tips for Grab and Go Menus

  • Monitor food trends. A great way of expanding your grab and go menu's variety is by keeping up with new trends in food and beverage. Customers these days pay extra attention to what goes into their foods, and organic or locally sourced options are usually best-sellers at most foodservice establishments.
  • Accommodate dietary restrictions. By providing vegan, gluten-free or kosher options in your grab and go foods, your customers will appreciate the inclusivity to their needs and the variety provided!
  • Packaging is key. Grab and go crowds are attracted to the best quality foods they can find and maintaining clear visibility in your packaging allows customers to see exactly what they're getting.
  • Go green. Ditch the traditional styrofoam carry out containers and opt for clear PLA plastic salad bowls, deli containers, and to go boxes with clear lids.
  • Get creative with your food presentation. Carefully place colorful, bright ingredients at the top of your containers to show off your high-quality meals. Your customers will appreciate the eye-catching displays and will reach for foods they already deem tasty just by looking at them.
  • Plan out your weekly menus. Keep track of what's on your shelves by creating weekly menus in advance to maintain the highest quality in your grab and go meals.
  • Mark the "best if sold by" dates. To ensure your sandwiches, salads, and soup containers are fresh before putting them out on shelves, be sure to clearly label how long they're good for. Your customers will appreciate being able to know the quality of their foods, which adds credibility to your business.
  • Pro tip: Figure out the buying patterns of your customers and accommodate prep days to make larger quantities of items that sell out the fastest.

Building a Grab and Go Menu

When you start building your first grab and go food concept, keep in mind your customers are already coming in for your delicious dishes, so your job is to meet their demand and find a way to make the same high-quality, fresh meals you serve portable.

Above all, customers who tend to reach for grab and go foods usually want breakfast, lunch, and snack options. It's important to create an extensive menu filled with a variety of classic dishes, customer favorites, and more.

Here are examples of grab and go food ideas that you can include in your future menu:

Grab and Go Breakfasts

  • Cereal cups with different milk options such as soy, almond, or oat milk
  • Bagels with different spread options such as cream cheese, honey, or avocado
  • Breakfast wraps that include gluten-free and vegan options
  • Breakfast sandwiches with keto, paleo, vegan or gluten-free options
  • Seasonal fruit cups
  • Yogurt parfaits
  • Muffins and scones

Grab and Go Lunches

  • Salads
  • Cold wraps and sandwiches
  • Burrito bowls
  • Poke bowls
  • Sushi rolls
  • Protein and side combinations that include vegan, gluten-free, and pescatarian options
  • Pasta and soups

Grab and Go Snacks

  • Cheese and deli meat boards
  • Fruit trays
  • Cookies, cupcakes, and other baked goods with vegan and gluten-free options
  • An assortment of chocolates and chips

The Benefits Of a Grab and Go Menu

Including a grab and go menu alongside your foodservice establishment's regular meals is beneficial for your customers and your business. Customers will enjoy the high-quality foods you provide and appreciate the ease of taking their favorite meals with them during their busy day.

By serving healthy options you can expand your customer base and be more inclusive to dietary restrictions. Having a rotating range of weekly options also allows your business to adapt to the meal moods of your customers. To add convenience to your business, incorporate a grab and go menu and a selection of breakfast, lunch, and snack options.