Question: Grab-and-go is very popular among my customers. Many will eat here in my restaurant and then grab something to take to work or school to eat later in the day. Some customers order a beverage to go and grab something to eat with it. I’d like to capture as much of this market as possible. Can you give me some ideas for vegan/healthy grab-and-go items?
Answer: It does seem that more and more people are eating on the run. Here are some menu and packaging ideas.
1. Plain, onion, sesame, whole wheat, dried tomato and poppyseed bagels or vegan muffins with soy cream cheese,* nut butters (peanut, almond, soy, or hazelnut), or margarine and apple butter
2. Cold soy* or whole wheat pasta or potato salad, made with vegetables, cooked beans, and Nayonnaise*. Add chunks of flavored, extra-firm tofu, seitan*, tempeh*, or Tofurky* for “meatless” chicken and tuna salad
3. Hot veggie and bean chili*
4. Cold vegan sandwiches made with a variety of breads, soy cheeses,* vegan deli slices, and lots of shredded and chopped vegetables, such as spinach, red or green cabbage, carrots, radishes, bell peppers, chilies, onions, celery, different types of sprouts, and summer squash
5. Hot or cold veggie burgers topped with soy cheeses* and vegetables
6. Tossed mixed green salads with soy salad dressing*
7. Vegan chef salads with mixed greens, diced Tofurky*, and soy cheese*
8. Fresh fruit salad paired with soy yogurt or soy sour cream
9. Soy pudding cups*
10. Vegan brownies* or cookies* made with chopped nuts or chopped dried fruit
11. Cold edamame* or nut mixes
12. Vegan frozen novelties, such as Rice Dream or Toffuti individually-packaged desserts
1. Offer “brown bag” lunches, better than what Mom made, with an assortment of food items and a novelty item, such as a handwritten note, a la fortune cookie, or a coupon. You could pair a sandwich with a container of juice and a piece of fresh fruit, a salad with a muffin and a container of juice, or a sandwich wrap with a small package of edamame or mixed nuts and a container of soymilk.
2. If you have space, have a hot food bar for customers to design their own grab-and-go meals. Have a variety of containers and a cold area for fruit, salad, and beverages. Your hot bar could include several soups, chili, premade hot sandwiches, and baked white and sweet potatoes.
3. Offer snack combos. Combine a package of dried fruit with a wrapped cookie, a brownie with a piece of fresh fruit, a container of soy yogurt with a small container of fruit salad, or a package of nuts with a wrapped muffin.
4. Offer “meal deals.” Take a page from the fast-food industry, but make it healthy. Allow customers to pick their own menu combinations with some pricing incentives. For example, offer a vegan sandwich, a beverage, and a piece of fruit or a vegan pasta salad, muffin, and a small package of edamame as a “package deal.”
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