With the holidays in full swing, having menu solutions that ease the burden on your team while maintaining high-quality service is critical for success.

With holiday catering, prix-fixe menus, deliveries, holiday events, and more, this time of year is always hectic, especially factoring in the pandemic, and the last thing operators need to worry about is food and labor costs. However, with some tweaks to your menu, you can make it easier on your staff and bottom line with these labor-saving menu solutions.

Appealing Appetizers

Get creative with your apps this season and opt for simple dishes that are quick and easy to prep. According to Datassential, meatballs appear on 32.5% of all U.S. menus. Consider items like Roma® Gourmet Beef & Pork Meatballs, which are fully cooked, can be reheated in multiple ways, and make for a great appetizer, whether it be authentic Italian-style menu applications or savory sauces for festive dishes. Getting creative with flavor combos like cranberry chili, basil pesto, spicy arrabbiata, or even Korean BBQ gives you the flexibility to choose any flavor profile and entice guests to spend more.

Small plates and tapas are extremely popular right now, especially among young people. Cash in on this craze by taking dishes that are on the regular dinner menu, scaling them down, and offering at a lower price point. Think charcuterie, a hummus plate, and, empanadas. Get creative with presentations, global flavors, and spices, and these shareable dishes will sell themselves.

Serve Up Sammies

Sandwiches, sliders, and flatbreads are great options as labor savers. They work for every meal and don’t take a lot of time or skill to produce. Getting creative with ingredients you already have for new sandwich recipes can be a great solution. Rethink popular dishes to see how you can present them in sandwich form for the month like a meatball sub or sliders using Roma Gourmet Beef & Pork Meatballs that are fully cooked and ready to go.

They are also great to throw on top of a toasted flatbread, with marinara, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. Have winter produce you need to use up? Create a vegetarian sandwich with roasted veggies, add some cheese, a zesty sauce, and spices for a perfect LTO, or dinner entrée with made-ahead sides.


Diners love to customize their own meals to their specific tastes and diets. Having a build-your-own dish can not only take some of the stress off short-order requests, but it allows kitchen staff to get creative with ingredients and provides a personalized experience for customers. Noodle bowls, grain bowls, and salads all work well here. Guests can customize toppings like raw veggies and fresh produce, incorporate different sauces, and mix-and-match bases.

COP Success

Pizza is always a good go-to, because it’s a blank canvas and appeals to almost all diners. And authenticity is increasingly important to pizza eaters, with 49% wanting more authentic offerings. But providing high-quality, authentic recipes while keeping costs low can sometimes be a challenge. Consider using Roma Ground Italian Sausage or Roma Ground Beef for pizza toppings. They are frozen fresh for ease, convenience, and multi-purpose, so you can use them for other Italian staples such as calzones, pasta, or your own signature creations.

Pasta is another center-of-plate option that all diners love. It’s comfort food, it’s hearty, and it’s so versatile, so you can use much of what you already have in stock. Using herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme, and mint can elevate winter pasta dishes to another level. Add in some butternut squash and creamy Burrata, and you have a high-quality meal without extensive prep. For a pasta dish that’s a little heartier, consider adding Roma Gourmet Meatballs with a simple marinara sauce or basil pesto that appeals to the younger demographic, families, and kids while keeping the burden off kitchen staff.

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