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Restaurants Use Meal Kits to Reach Stay-at-Home Diners


Jun 4, 2020

Most states have been advising their residents to stay at home as much as possible in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. As a result, many consumers are making use of their time by learning how to cook. While operators looking to promote availability of curbside pick-up and delivery may see this as a challenge, some have recognized the opportunity to reach their diners in a new way—meal kits.

While meal kits have become common in other segments, like C&U, chain restaurants are now also capitalizing on their surge in popularity. Chick-fil-A has added a Chicken Parmesan Meal Kit, which contains both cooked and raw ingredients and feeds two people. At Denny’s, patrons may order a sandwich kit that can feed 4-6 people or a slow-cooked pot roast meal kit for 6-8 people. Each main dish comes with condiments and sides. Meanwhile, Bartaco offers a Taco Pack with tortillas and assorted fillings to make 16 tacos. California Pizza Kitchen sells a Lettuce Wrap Kit that features Asian-influenced sauce, lettuce cups, green onions, shiitake mushrooms and more.

Take a look at your menu and determine which fan favorites could make for a successful meal kit. If you need ideas, get inspired with a few of these recipes that could work well for the at-home cook:

  • Turkey Flatbread Pizetta: Nearly 70% of millennials and households with kids want BYO pizza kits. With turkey medallions or turkey meatballs, flatbread, grape tomatoes, potatoes and shredded mozzarella, diners can enjoy cooking a favored dish without the trouble of making dough from scratch.
  • Buffalo Turkey Burger: Customers missing the bar scene can whip up a saucy burger reminiscent of happy hour. According to Datassential, 61% of consumers would be interested in a BYO burger kit. This recipe calls for ground turkey, carrots, celery and blue cheese mayonnaise. To garnish, they can use the Buffalo sauce provided or another brand they prefer.
  • Kung Pao Salad: This option is great for diners interested in ethnic fare who don’t want to buy a bevy of ingredients. It’ll only take them a few minutes to toss the turkey breast, bok choy leaves, house made Kung Pao dressing and other veggies in a bowl, creating a better-for-you meal full of Asian flavors.
  • Singapore Meatballs and Zoodles: While pasta has been in heavy rotation, customers can dress it up with global inspiration. Using turkey meatballs, lighter zucchini noodles and an Asian-influenced sauce, any home cook can pull off this easy prep.
  • Turkey French Dip: This is for the diners who want to take sandwiches to the next level. Prepare a kit with slices of turkey breast, French bread, turkey jus, caramelized onions and a honey horseradish sauce with Cajun mustard. Once finished, patrons get complex flavor with a simple execution.

While the pandemic has been difficult in many respects, it has inspired operators to get creative. The restaurant industry is long accustomed to monitoring trends and pivoting to meet new demands; meal kits are only one of many examples. Operators have continually adapted to meet customers’ needs, and now is no exception.

Does your operation sell meal kits? Share your experiences on Facebook or LinkedIn. Be sure to browse our Resource Center for more foodservice topics.

SOURCES

COVID-19 Report 11: Reinvention, Datassential, April 2020.

Romeo, Peter. Chick-fil-A, Denny’s Add Meal Kits, Restaurant Business, May 2020.

Thorn, Bret. Restaurant meal kits provide fresh food, entertainment for customers stuck at home, Nation’s Restaurant News, April 2020.