Trending Now: International Flavors for Kids' Meals
As a school foodservice director, you're always fighting to increase your school meal participation. One answer? Keep your menu relevant to new generations of students.
Thanks to the adventurous palates of today's parents, your students have been exposed to, and come to love, many more dishes with global flavors than previous generations. Is your menu keeping pace?
Globally-inspired kids' dishes
Quesadillas have been as American as apple pie for a long time. But, following their parents' lead, your students have been enjoying cuisines once considered "exotic."
• 50% of parents say their kids like more adventurous ethnic cuisines, including Indian, Peruvian, Vietnamese and Moroccan.1
• 2/3 of parents say their kids enjoy mainstream ethnic cuisines like Mexican and Chinese.1
• Ethnic-inspired dishes are the #1 trend on kids' menus in commercial restaurants in 2018.2
Schools are beginning to match the trend
Always keen to keep up with kids' food interests, American schools are introducing more international flavors than ever. Nearly 60% of districts report offering a new menu item that features international flavors, and 26.2% are considering or testing some.3
Here are some great examples from around the country:
Korean BBQ Grain Bowl with Korean BBQ, whole grain rice, kimchi, black beans, power blend slaw, red onions and julienne carrots. (Greenville County Schools, SC)
Chicken or Beef Stir Fry Made to order from 13 different items, including fresh ingredients like shredded carrots, spinach, water chestnuts, broccoli, green and red peppers, mushrooms, edamame and pineapple. (Oxford Community Schools, MI)
Frozen products can make international cooking more feasible
Executing international cuisines with available labor in a school kitchen can be challenging, but there are many frozen food products that can simplify the effort, reduce waste and increase consistency.
Simplot Good Grains™ ancient grains and blends can take the work (and guesswork) out of preparing popular grains like quinoa and wild rice. Prep is as easy as heat and serve.
Simplot Simple Goodness™ frozen vegetables deliver amazing color, texture and flavor with zero waste and consistent quality year-round.
Simplot RoastWorks® Roast Vegetables and Fruits offers innovative products like Flame-Roasted Corn & Jalapeño Blend that are well-suited to international flavors, with heat and serve simplicity.
Simplot Harvest Fresh Avocados™ eliminate the challenges of spoilage and waste you get with raw avocados, and still provide the rich avocado flavor students love.
You don't have to become an expert in Thai cuisine, for instance, to add ethnic appeal to your school menu. Simple additions like offering peanut sauce for dipping, or putting lunch on a stick (i.e. kabobs), are enough to add excitement and interest.
Beyond burgers and pizza
Increasing your student meal program participation is never easy, and you need all the help you can get. With all of the excitement around global cuisines, adding international flavors to your menu is a smart way to keep your students engaged and coming back.
For more fresh, on-trend menu ideas, download our kids' menu eBook now.
1 Datassential, FOODBYTES, 2016
2 National Restaurant Association, 2018
3 School Nutrition Association, School Nutrition Trends Report, 2017