Winter Menu Prep
Winter Menu Prep
In last week’s blog, we discussed how to prepare your facilities and equipment for winter weather. We outlined eight steps that you can take to ensure outdoor spaces, parking lots, sidewalks, stairways, and equipment are at their best throughout the winter. If you missed it, be sure to read it. p>
As promised, today’s post will be the second part of our three-part series on preparing your restaurant for the winter months. This week we will focus on a topic that is more closely related to all our hearts – food!
2) Create Your Menu
Depending on what the weather is like where you are, you may have already tweaked your menu for cooler weather or are already searching for inspiration for the winter holidays. Below are general menu ideas for cooler weather, holiday specials, and cocktails, and mocktails perfect for cooler weather.
• Spice up your menu
For fall, we think of pumpkin spice, but winter has its own set of spices and flavors. For instance, two flavors associated with winter are ginger and peppermint. Your restaurant could take advantage of this customer expectation and add ginger and peppermint flavored items to your menu. Peppermint flavored lattes, gingerbread cookies, ginger snaps, or peppermint creamer are great additions to your menu.
Whatever you choose to do, it never hurts to meet customer expectations and be creative while doing so. See what menu items that you already have that you can put a “winter” twist on.
• Keep it hot
Winter is cold. Give your customers something to warm them up! Consider offering soups, stews, chilis, hot chocolates, ciders, warm mocktails and cocktails, hot cereals, cobblers, and puddings. Warm foods and drinks will warm customers up from the inside out. They are often associated with feelings of comfort, home, and memories.
Stews are an excellent way to use leftovers that you don’t want to go to waste. For example, a few years ago I volunteered to help at a kitchen serving close to two hundred people. The head of the kitchen staff took leftover vegetables, hamburger meat, and taco shells from the previous evening’s special (tacos) to create a warm, flavorful beef stew. Anything is possible with the right staff and equipment.
• Prep for the holidays
If you have not started already, now is the time to be creating and planning specials for the winter holidays. Christmas and New Years’ come fast and are so close together you will not have the time- or energy- to prepare for both unless you begin now.
If you have not already read our article on preparing for Thanksgiving, now would be a good time. It has many helpful hints and suggestions that can apply to any holiday, including Christmas and New Year’s. But, to briefly summarize, if your restaurant decides to stay open for the holiday or to cater, it is a good idea to check your inventory before planning your menu. By keeping stock of what you already have, you can adjust your menu as needed without ordering too much.
Also, examine the menu you already have. You would be surprised how little tweaks can make them holiday-ready. For example, you can add green and red sprinkles to sugar cookies, use dried cranberries and green peppers in chicken salad, or garnish plates with green leaves and cranberries.
The possibilities are endless, but you don’t have to change everything to create a holiday-ready menu. Some customers will appreciate the consistency of offering familiar items while others will appreciate your effort to be festive and creative.
It’s good to have a few holiday staples. The holidays serve as opportunities for you to celebrate with your customers. Take advantage of it by offering them the traditional foods they love or even menu items that you enjoy this time of year.
• Drink it up
During this time of year, warm cocktails and mocktails are popular. If your restaurant has a bar or offers alcoholic beverages, consider adding warm cocktails and mocktails to your menu. Some examples are a cinnamon tequila hot toddy, Ancho Reyes original hot chocolate, Salted Butterscotch Hot Chocolate, and homemade eggnog. For specific ingredient lists and instructions, check out our blog on Six Comfort Drinks for Winter.
If you need any supplies or equipment before the busy winter season, please let us know. We ship most items for free and are willing to work with you to help you find the equipment that is best for your restaurant’s needs.