Restaurant menu

Could a Healthy Menu Trim Your Waste and Waist?

Cracker Barrel has faced criticism that their menu is considered “heavy” or “rich”, primarily being hearty breakfast fare served at all hours of the day, ranging from butter-drenched biscuits to gravy-coated chicken fried steak. It’s a heavy indulgence every once in a while, but the company has decided to float the opposite way to get some customers they might have lost. Their “Wholesome Fixin’s” menu introduced this week is conceptually about keeping meals under 600 calories while keeping their menu fresh and relevant.

Any restaurants worth their weight in salt (low-sodium, of course) need to revise their menu on a regular basis; trim the fat of products that don’t sell, and introduce new ones that might have a chance at the spotlight. Could introducing, or at least highlighting, your lower-calorie menus be a saving grace for your restaurant?

Simple Substitutions

Looking at Cracker Barrel’s changes, there’s a few simple swap-outs that happen that can dramatically make a meal healthier:

  • The “Good Morning Breakfast” features turkey bacon, scrambled Egg Beaters, sliced tomatoes, cheese grits, and a seasonal fruit selection. Turkey bacon is less sodium than it’s pork counterpart (and would actually appeal to consumers who don’t partake of pork). Scrambled Egg Beaters theoretically offer lower cholesterol.
  • Their new multigrain french toast dish is baked, coming with honey citrus yogurt and seasonal fruit. Multigrain bread is replacing their low-carb bread.
  • Spice-rubbed pork chops, pepper-grilled sirloin, buttermilk oven-fried chicken, and pecan-crusted catfish are all either cooked healthier or include steamed sides to reduce the caloric count.

New Menu Items

Sometimes, something new has to be tried.

  • “Fresh Fruit and Yogurt Parfait” is yogurt, strawberries, and raspberries with granola.
  • Egg and Cheese Sliders feature mayo, tomato, egg, and Colby cheese on flatbread.
  • New sides include a cucumber-tomato-onion salad, mixed green side salad with country pepper vinaigrette, sweet whole baby carrots, country green beans, whole kernel corns, baked sweet potato, and brown rice pilaf.

And You Already Have…

A few highlighted items on their menu are things you likely have in your kitchen already.

  • “Good Morning Breakfast” features sliced tomatoes and seasonal fruits, two sets of things in any traditional restaurant with such a variety of menu items.

What can be learned from these new menu items at Cracker Barrel? Offering lighter fare does not have to incur many, if any, new costs. Simple highlighting and pairing of items, too, can greatly increase the healthy of your meals, such as using fresh fruit or offering steamed veggies. Steaming veggies can be highly healthy and come at very little cost with the right steamer. In many cases, looking at your kitchen may offer new alternatives; sliced tomatoes may do fine as a side on their own, keeping them with your produce but before putting them on sandwiches, for example.

Selling lean foods may find you a new audience while keeping your costs lean.