Careful Menu Selections Part 1

Jul 22, 2010

As an informed restaurant owner, you can help customers make healthier choices and still enjoy the convenience of a restaurant. Over the next series of blog posts, we will discuss what restaurant owners can offer both on and off the menu to create healthy choices for guests. This creates a sense of care and concern for your guests as well as keeps profitability higher with patronage of people seeing efforts on their behalf.

Make careful menu selections for your patrons – pay attention to the descriptions on your menu. Dishes labeled deep-fried, pan-fried, basted, batter-dipped, breaded, creamy, crispy, scalloped, Alfredo, au gratin or in cream sauce are usually high in calories, unhealthy fats or sodium. Highlight items with more vegetables and leaner meats.

Encourage patrons to drink bottled water with their meal. Soda is a huge source of hidden calories. One 32-oz Big Gulp with regular cola packs about 425 calories, so one Big Gulp can quickly gulp up a big portion of daily calorie intake. Suggest Iced Tea or bottled water. There can be a profit margin and a healthy choice for the guest. Try adding a little lemon to your water.

Suggest clients “Undress” their food. When choosing items, help customers be aware of calorie and fat packed salad dressings, spreads, cheese, sour cream, etc. For example, if they ask for a grilled chicken sandwich, suggest skipping the mayonnaise. Offer a packet of ketchup or mustard they can add themselves, controlling how much they put on a sandwich.

Don’t be afraid to let them special order. Many menu items would be healthy if it weren’t for the way they were prepared. Ask if vegetables and main dishes can be served without the sauces. Serve olive oil and vinegar for salads or offer the dressing “on the side” and spoon only a small amount on at a time. If your food is fried or cooked in oil or butter, ask if guests prefer to have it broiled or steamed.