The advent of the fast-paced lifestyle has spurred a revolution in the food industry. The increasing demand for quick, easy, and convenient meal options has made "grab-and-go" menus an integral part of many food establishments. These are designed to cater to customers who want to enjoy their meals without the typical sit-down experience, either due to time constraints or personal preference. If you're running a restaurant, café, food truck, or any food-related business, developing a well-curated grab-and-go menu can be an excellent opportunity for growth. Here's how to create a successful grab-and-go menu for your business.
What Is Grab & Go Food?
Grab-and-go foods are premade and prepackaged meals and snacks offered as an alternative way of dining in cafés, 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 bestsellers 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.
Choosing The Right Food Items
The items you include in your grab-and-go menu should be a balance between what your customers want and what is practical for your business. Consider the following factors when selecting food items:
- Portability: The food items should be easy to carry and eat on the go. This typically includes sandwiches, wraps, salads, pastries, and handheld snacks.
- Shelf Life: Ideally, you want items that can hold well for a few hours without losing their quality. Easy and Quick Preparation: Given the nature of grab-and-go, the items should be quick to prepare and easy to package.
- Health Factor: Many customers prefer healthier options for quick meals, so consider including options with whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
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 & Go Breakfast
- 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 & Go Lunches
- 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 & 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
Marketing Your Grab & Go Menu
Once your menu is ready, it's time to let your customers know. Use all your marketing channels – your website, social media, email newsletters, in-store signage – to advertise your new offerings. Consider offering deals or specials initially to entice customers to try your new menu.
Proper packaging is crucial for grab-and-go items. Not only does it need to maintain the quality and temperature of the food, but it also needs to be easy to handle. Use sturdy, leak-proof containers, and make sure the packaging is eco-friendly, as this is an important consideration for many consumers.
Types Of Packaging
- Plastic: Plastic containers are often chosen for their durability and versatility. They are available in many sizes and styles and can handle a wide range of foods. However, with increasing concern about plastic waste and its environmental impact, it might be advisable to explore other options or at least ensure the plastic used is recyclable or compostable.
- Paper/Cardboard: Paper or cardboard containers are a popular eco-friendly choice. They are biodegradable and can come in a variety of forms, such as boxes, bags, or wraps. They're best suited for dry foods, as they can get soggy with moist items unless lined or coated.
- Bamboo or other plant-based materials: These are excellent eco-friendly alternatives that are both sturdy and compostable. They can handle a variety of foods and are generally microwave-safe.
Qualities To Look Out For
The primary function of packaging is to protect the food, maintaining its quality and preventing any leaks or spills. However, modern consumers also value convenience. Therefore, consider packaging features that enhance usability. For instance:
- Stackability: Packaging that is easy to stack is a boon for display purposes, and it also makes it easier for customers to carry multiple items.
- Microwave-safe: Many customers appreciate the ability to reheat their meal in the same package it comes in. So, whenever possible, try to use microwave-safe materials.
- Re-sealable: Depending on the type of food, customers might not consume the whole portion at once. Re-sealable packaging allows them to save the rest for later, maintaining freshness.
Remember, the goal of excellent packaging is twofold: to ensure the food remains delicious and appealing and to offer a convenient and pleasant customer experience. Making informed choices about your packaging materials, design, and functionality can significantly contribute to the success of your grab-and-go offerings.
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.
Take The Leap
Building a successful grab-and-go menu requires careful consideration of your customers' needs, careful food and packaging selection, and diligent marketing. However, the potential benefits –increased customer satisfaction, higher sales, and a wider customer base – make it a worthwhile endeavor for any food business.