How to Incorporate Local Ingredients On Your Menu
The local food movement shows no signs of going away anytime soon, and for good reason! There are so many reasons why local food is beneficial—it’s good for the environment, it’s good for the local economy, and it’s even healthier and more nutritious!
But most importantly for your restaurant, serving local food is good for business. Serving local food can be a great marketing angle and it can make you stand out among other restaurants. And customers are often willing to pay more if they know that ingredients are fresh, local, and healthy.
So how can you incorporate local ingredients on your menu? Here are a few tips and tricks.
Buy in season.
In-season produce is cheaper, better looking, and better for you! Consider rotating your dishes by season—offer more lettuce in spring and more squash in the fall. This will save money and give your customers some variety.
Check with your regular distributors.
You don’t necessarily need to find new sources–your normal distributors might be able to bring you local ingredients. You never know unless you ask!
If you already have an ordering system in place, it can seem overwhelming to think about totally overhauling things. So start small by offering a Local Foods Night. A prix fixe menu with local produce and meats can attract customers and be a good way to test out the local food waters.
If you aren’t sure how to incorporate local ingredients into your menu, start out by offering locally made desserts. Is there a local ice cream company or bakery that might like to have the spotlight on your dessert menu?
Don’t forget about booze.
Alcohol is one of the easiest ways to go local (provided there are breweries, vineyards, or distilleries in your area). Mix up a cocktail using local liquor and you’ll be supporting a local business that will likely support your restaurant, too!
Focus on one ingredient.
Don’t think that you need to make an entire meal of local ingredients. You might want to use local cheese on your burgers or local maple syrup on your brunch dishes.
Shout it from the rooftops.
However you decide to incorporate local ingredients on your menu, make sure your customers know they’re there. Using local ingredients can be a great marketing strategy if you’re open about it!
Using local ingredients can be a great way to boost business and attract customers. How do you incorporate local ingredients onto your menu?