Restaurants have a tremendous impact on the health of their patrons. Think about it: people who do not always like to cook for themselves or simply don’t know how to, often turn to restaurants to for dine-out and order-in options. Depending on a number of factors, a person or group of people could eat at out at restaurants multiple times per week. If a customer frequents restaurants for most of their meals, their nutrition is going to be solely based off of what these restaurants serve. Therefore, it is important that restaurants do everything in their power to provide nutritional, healthy options for customers. They also must be transparent in terms of informing customers what exactly is in the meals that they are purchasing and eating. Do People Buy Healthy Menu Items? The debate over whether or not customers like to and actually buy healthy menu items is complex. There is a misconception that eating healthy can’t be as delicious or fulfilling. Clearly, this is incorrect. There are two types of customers: those who care about nutrition information being on the menu and those that do not. People who are health-conscious will naturally lean towards purchasing the healthy menu items. Customers who do not pay much attention to nutritional information or do not have to simply order what they want. In most cases, people do want to be healthy. Sometimes, however, they don’t understand what is healthy and what isn’t. You have the opportunity to take on the role as this educator and leader in the industry and give your customers the option to live healthier lives through the food options you offer on your menu. A great way to do this is providing nutritional information for all of your dishes on the menu. In doing so, you are allowing your customers to make an informed decision about what they want to eat. Who knows? You may even make an impact on someone who thinks they are eating healthy, but in reality, have been choosing a dish that does not align with their dietary goals. A study that focused on “restaurant-based intervention”, was conducted in Spain. It required 16 food establishments to incorporate healthier options on their menus. The result of this experiment was an overwhelming amount of customer satisfaction. What Does it take to have a Healthier Menu? All of this being said, creating a healthy menu does not have to be a chore or even difficult. Yes, you heard it right: it can be fun and even help you bring out your creative side! There are many benefits to implementing healthy initiatives at your restaurant. For one thing, you can have healthy foods without having to invest in pricey, organic ingredients. A negative stigma can sometimes be placed around purchasing and utilizing healthy ingredients for your restaurant because, in large amounts, it can get very expensive.This is not necessarily always the case and there are ways to purchase healthy ingredients without compromising the financial security of your business. Also, healthy dishes are always a popular option, whether we realize it or not. People will feel better about eating at your restaurant if they leave feeling like they have eaten something both nutritious and delicious, rather than feeling overstuffed. That being said, your popular dishes that aren’t so healthy won’t suffer, but customers will definitely appreciate that the option to make the healthier choice or indulge in something on the sweeter side is being offered to them. People will always want to treat themselves. In fact, one of our case studies found that carrot cake, a typically unhealthy dish, was still just as popular as ever once the calories it contained were available on the menu. This is comforting as a food provider, because it proves that you don’t need to sacrifice what may be considered “unhealthy” things on your menu to include more healthy options. The most important thing to keep in mind is that, like anything in life, your menu should be balanced. “Healthier” doesn’t mean “strictly healthy”. Make sure your menu has a balance of very healthy, somewhat healthy and indulgent food options. Here are some ideas to get you started. Be sure that your entrees are well balanced in terms of protein, carbs, and fats.Offer a variety of “side” options that can be less expensive but still provide that healthy aspect to a meal.Offer substitutes for unhealthy sides or parts of a meal. (Ex. sweet potato fries for french fries, side salad for french fries)Offer wheat and/or gluten-free pasta as part of your normal pasta offeringOffer multigrain or gluten free bun for hamburgersOffer turkey and veggie burgers in addition to beef hamburgers MenuSano’s Role How can MenuSano help? MenuSano nutritional analysis software allows you to customize and break down the nutritional content of all of your dishes. It shows a comprehensive breakdown of all of the ingredients that people most care about when adhering to diets. To name a few examples, MenuSano’s nutrition labels show calories, both healthy and unhealthy fats, carbohydrates and all other important nutritional information that appears on a standard label. Even better, the process to create this nutrition label is simple: design your dishes, input your ingredients, print out the label, and incorporate it into your menu. Anyone on your team will be able to easily use this software to its fullest capacity due to its user-friendly interface. Utilizing this software also allows for the customizing of dishes and recipe experimentation. With nutrition analysis software you are able to substitute ingredients with the knowledge of how each new ingredient is impacting the nutritional value of the dish. This can be especially useful when you think about the points made (above) about ways to make your menu healthier. Not only that, but if a new ingredient or food trend hits the market, you have the chance to test out how that ingredient may be able to be incorporated into an existing dish. Still wondering if MenuSano can help your business reach its goals? Check out our FREE trial today by visiting MenuSano.com and signing up!