5 Things to Consider when Adding "Healthy Choices' to the Restaurant Menu

Every year, as the new year dawns upon us, 67% of Americans pledge to eat clean, lose weight and stay fit. How many of these stick to the resolution is another story. However, the obesity epidemic is really a matter of grave concern for Americans. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the current prevalence of obesity in the US is 42.4% compared to 30.5% in the early 2000s. 

But times are changing, and we are seeing an increased interest in diet and healthy living. Even people who dine-out frequently have started demanding healthy food options, and in case of lack of healthy choices, they prefer to stick to soups and salads. So if you’re a restaurant owner, this is bad news! 

With an average American spending nearly 45% of their food budgets on restaurant food and 71% of them looking for healthy menu options, restaurant operators should seriously consider adding healthy menu choices. 

But just like everything, modifying the menu to accurately meet the consumer demand would require some planning and factor point considerations. Here are a few things that should help you get started on the right foot. 

Work with the Available Ingredients

Like all big projects, start small. You don’t really have to add 20 odd healthy dishes in one go. Work with available ingredients and give your customers the option to customize. Take a note of the available ingredients and create a few dishes that are not only low in calories but also provide wholesome nutrition to the customer. For example, for a Pizzeria, offering pizza made with a Whole-Grain Crust can bring down the calorie count per serving substantially. Load it up with healthy vegetables, choose leaner meat, and use lighter cheese. Your healthy eaters would appreciate the customization that allows them to binge on their favorite food without any guilt. 

Add Calorie Information

This is exactly what your customers are looking for when ordering from a healthy restaurant menu. You can either hire a professional nutritionist to get the most effective and detailed analyses of the menu, or use online nutritional analysis software like MenuCalc and MyFitnessPal to determine macro breakdown (carbs/fats/protein), and vitamin & mineral amounts. When you put down the list of ingredients used in the dishes, the software will calculate the nutritional info that you add to the menu for customers to make an informed purchase. 

Use Visual Cues 

When it comes to buying healthy dishes from the restaurant menu, people often doubt the presentation and taste, Can healthy food look and taste good? Such doubts emerge from our brain’s imagery to see only “Green” when talking about healthy food. But that’s not always the case. Green is healthy, but not healthy is green. Show this to your customers with delicious photography. Good photographs highlighting calorie information and nutrition value per servings can help build trust and temptation. As well as increase sales. 

Limit the number of unhealthy items

According to menu engineers, a vast menu with more than 40 dishes tend to hinder customers’ ability to order food. In most cases, they feel lost and become indecisive - one of the primary reasons for a high number of abandoned carts. So if you decide to add healthy dishes to the menu, you must first cut out a few unhealthy items from the menu. Check out the analytics and make a list of items that don’t perform well all year around. Cut them out of the menu to make space for new additions. 

Be mindful of the prices

Of course, being mindful of prices is also important. Consumers often associate healthy with expensive. But it doesn’t really have to be this way. Your customers shouldn’t really have to empty their wallets to buy healthy items off the menu.  Stick to basic nourishment if you have to, but make sure the healthy additions are reasonable enough for your customers.