These days customers love a seasonal menu! In fact, 49% of people said seasonal menu items were more appetising and an additional even 39% believed they were healthier. It makes total sense; consumer trends indicate a recent move towards sustainability and supporting locally based growers.
Yet customer preference isn’t the only reason you should consider embracing a seasonal menu. Seasonal menus are simply far more cost-effective. Using seasonal dishes means you’re using in-season ingredients (which are typically more affordable) rather than trying to import off-season ingredients from far-off countries at a premium.
And let’s not forget that announcing a brand-new summer menu is exciting - it breathes life into your menu and gives your valued customers new reasons to come back and visit you! Creating new dishes means you have an exciting reason to reconnect with customers who have visited you before, all via your marketing channels. Not to mention it keeps things fresh in the kitchen! Your kitchen staff definitely won’t get bored if they can help dream up fresh new menu items and bring them to life on the plate.
Read on to find out just how easy it is to create a seasonal menu.
Before you start panicking, remember that a seasonal menu doesn’t mean you need to transform your entire menu! You can (and should!) keep your signature dishes and staple menu items. You’ll only need to change your menu twice a year - once for summer and then once more heading into the cooler months.
A seasonal menu means that you’re simply adding a few dishes that are sure to perform well during that season. In summer, that could mean swapping out a range of items and adding light meals, salads, snacks, or delicious summer cocktails. If it’s easier, you could even just print an additional menu sheet with seasonal specials on rotation, instead of changing your whole menu.
So, where do you begin? Well, start by thinking about anything your menu lacks, or anything that customers have been asking about recently. For instance, do you have any vegetarian or seafood options available? Get feedback! Ask your waitstaff what customers have been asking about recently.
Also, think about what you’d like to swap out in your menu. Consider removing heavy winter foods, especially anything that contains pricier ingredients, anything that hasn’t been that popular, or items that take a long time to prepare.
So, what’s in season in spring and summer? Well, think asparagus, peppers, avocado and fresh tomatoes, as well as a range of delicious tropical fruits like cherries, mangoes, pineapple and watermelon.
This means you can create summer menu items that centre around freshness such as bruschetta, fresh berries on pancakes or french toast, and plenty of fresh juices. Consider creating delicious fresh cocktails using all the fresh fruits on offer.
Check out the Australian Seasonal Food Guide to see what is on offer from season to season. Hop onto social media and see what customers are taking photos of in nearby restaurants. Remember to look at tagged photos - if you look at photos venues have posted you’ll just see the dishes they are trying to promote, and not necessarily what is popular. Tagged photos will give you a stronger indication of what customers are really loving.
There’s no point in creating a new seasonal menu if no one knows about it! Promote your new summer menu items the right way using a few clever tactics. First of all, think about the presentation of your new menu items and find ways to make them look more appetising or “Instagrammable”.
If you’re creating french toast, can you drizzle a succulent chocolate sauce on top? Can you top a dish with an edible flower or two to add colour? Take plenty of photographs of your exciting new dishes and arm yourself with fantastic new content to share on social media or to your existing email list. Make sure back-of-house staff know exactly how to create your new dishes, and train front-of-house staff on how to highlight new options to customers.
The most important aspect of creating your new menu is ensuring that you’ll have a steady, consistent, and reliable supplier (or suppliers) to provide the exact ingredients that you’ll need for your new dishes. With new menu items, it can be hard to gauge demand in advance, so you’ll have to monitor sales and feedback closely for your new menu items in the first few weeks.
Remember; you’re not alone! The Foodbomb team is here to help you with your planning. Reach out to your Growth Manager to help coordinate your suppliers, find any new suppliers, and cost your menu so that it’s optimised for success.